Education unions write to DfE for clarity on Brexit guidance

Teaching unions NAHT and NEU have written to the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson regarding reports of some EU citizen children having school places threatened in a no-deal Brexit.

In the letter, NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman and joint NEU general secretaries Kevin Courtney and Dr Mary Bousted expressed concern about the spread of misinformation and the anxiety this is causing for both children and school staff.

They also called for the government to provide clarity around the DfE’s guidance. “We believe the DfE’s guidance for schools lacks clarity. While noting that schools cannot take nationality or immigration status into account for admission purposes, it fails to make clear that schools should not ask parents of enrolled pupils to prove that their child has applied for, or holds, settled status.”

The NEU and NAHT have asked for confirmation that the addresses of pupils will not be passed to the Home Office on request and for future guidance from the DfE to be more than a repeat of the Home Office’s general advice to employers.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “EU citizens will be able to remain in the UK if we leave without a deal, children will not lose their school places and to suggest so is false and misleading.
“The National Education Union and National Association of Head Teachers should know better than to scaremonger about such an important issue.”

The DfE offered the following information in response:

DfE guidance is clear that EU nationals resident in the UK have the right to a school place and that schools are not responsible for making decisions about immigration status.

The Brexit Schools Sector Notice makes it clear that schools must not refuse admission because of doubts about migration status. ‘Schools and local authorities cannot take into account nationality or immigration status when deciding which pupils to admit. There will be no change to this after Brexit.’
The DfE guidance on the admission of overseas pupils is also clear ‘When an admission authority for a school deals with an application for a child, whether or not they are a UK national, it must comply with the school admissions code and the Equality Act 2010. It cannot refuse a school place simply because of doubts about the child’s immigration status’.

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