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Don't make pupils apply for visas for school trips to Europe, campaigners say

Today we publish a joint letter with the British Council, ASCL and NEU raising concerns that Brexit will make school trips to Europe harder for schools to organise and will add to ongoing issues with recruitment and retention of teachers.

The letter, which has been reported by the BBC today, says that with less than a year until the UK's EU exit, the potential impact of the departure on schools and pupils should not be under-estimated.

Research commissioned by the British Council last year found that 12% of England's secondary schools currently have exchange visits with schools in France, while up to 29% arrange study or cultural trips.

Our letter comes amid continuing concerns about teacher shortages in England, particularly in subjects such as physics.

Here’s the letter in full:

Dear Sirs

With under a year left until Brexit, the signatories of this letter from leading schools organisations are calling on the UK’s Brexit negotiating teams not to underestimate the potential impact of leaving the European Union on schools and pupils.

Similar to the effects on the health service, we are seriously concerned that Brexit will exacerbate the already challenging teacher shortages in the UK.  Therefore, the post-Brexit visa regime must ensure that those already living and working here have their rights protected and feel secure; it must be straightforward for schools to recruit teachers from European countries.

It is also important that the prospects and opportunities for school pupils in the UK are not reduced by the UK leaving the European Union. The benefits of exchange programmes and foreign trips for pupils are widely accepted, and so visa arrangements must enable straightforward international visits and exchanges, rather than school children visiting Boulogne for the day having to apply for visas.

Britain’s future prosperity and place in the world depends on a new generation of outward looking, multilingual, globally minded young people who are prepared to live, work and thrive in the global economy.

Names of organisations and individuals who have signed this letter:-   

Mark Herbert, Head of Schools Programmes, British Council

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of National Association of Head Teachers

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union


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Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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