Brexit: What schools need to know

Written by: Imogen Rowley | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Brexit is upon us! Ahead of our EU exit, Imogen Rowley looks at the issues and considerations that schools need to be aware of

As we know the UK will continue to be a member of the EU until we officially leave on March 29, 2019.

And while an extension to Article 50 has been discussed, at the time of writing the political negotiations continue and the March 29 date remains.

So presuming we do leave on March 29, what can schools expect?

Well, most things will stay the same until at least December 31, 2020 (the date that has been earmarked as the end of the Brexit transition period), but there are some important things that you should be mindful of if you have staff or pupils from the EU, or if you are planning to travel to the EU after Brexit.

Staff members

If you have current members of staff from the EU, you are not required – and must not ask for – their residency information. Doing so may be considered a discriminatory act.

You may, however, be asked by an EU, European Economic Area (EEA), European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or Swiss staff member to provide documentation to support them in their application for the EU Settlement Scheme (see below). You must help with this as far as reasonably possible.

Elsewhere, be alert to any bullying or harassment in your school and make sure you deal with any incidents in line with your policies.

If you have a lot of staff/pupils from the EU, consider having a named point of contact within your school who they can go to with any queries.

This person should know where to go for answers and be able to signpost staff members and parents in need of advice (for example, to the Home Office department for visas and immigration, the Department for Education, unions, your local authority, or Citizens Advice.

What’s the situation for these employees?

EU, EEA EFTA and Swiss nationals and their family members living in the UK before March 29 will be able to live, work, study, access benefits and services in the UK on broadly the same terms as now.
If they are planning to live in the UK after December 31, 2020, they need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. The EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open by March 29. The deadline to apply will be December 31, 2020 (in a no-deal scenario), and June 30, 2021 (if we leave under the terms of the current withdrawal agreement).

Existing teaching qualifications are still valid

There won’t be any retrospective change for EU, EEA EFTA and Swiss teachers whose qualifications have been recognised (and who have been awarded qualified teacher status) before March 29, 2019, or for those who have applied for a recognition decision before this time.


If you have current pupils from the EU, you are not required – and must not – ask parents or pupils about their nationality

You should help a pupil or parent, as far as reasonably possible, if they ask you to provide confirmation of attendance to help them with their application to the EU Settlement Scheme.

And again, be alert to any bullying or harassment in your school and make sure you deal with any incidents in line with your policies.

For new admissions, you must not deny a child a place based on their nationality or migration status. After Brexit, we don’t currently know whether schools will have a role in collating nationality data and sharing it with any other agencies.

If you are planning a school trip

If the current withdrawal agreement is approved, you will be able to travel abroad to the EU under the same arrangements as now until the end of the transition period.

However, if there is no deal, you will need to:

  • Remind parents to check that their children’s passports are valid for at least six months from the date of travel.
  • Remind parents to purchase travel insurance for their children, because it is unlikely that the European Health Insurance Card will continue to provide cover after Brexit.
  • Check the terms and conditions for any flights and/or accommodation carefully, as there may be terms that exclude companies’ liability if the service cannot be provided because of Brexit. If you’re in any doubt, contact them.

There are some other issues to think about, but for which there’s currently no guidance. These include:

  • Charges for debit or credit card transactions.
  • Roaming charges (but the main mobile operators have said they don’t plan to reinstate charges after Brexit).
  • Driving in the EU, which may require additional paperwork.
  • Imogen Rowley is a lead content editor at The Key, which provides support and advice for school leaders. An original, more detailed version of this article is available for members of The Key for School Leaders via

Further information


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