Britain’s latest deadline to exit the European Union is set for October 31. Until then, private schools are stuck in a fog of uncertainty arising from the political impasse.
A report by the New York Times recently detailed how private schools in Britain and overseas are struggling to prepare for Brexit, with many parents contemplating transferring their children to places like Frankfurt or Amsterdam.
Christoph Kexel, managing partner at Accadis, an international school in Bad Homburg, said: “There’s a lot of interest from families, consultancies, banks calling up and asking whether we have some opportunities for some spots, reserving some spots, asking how quickly we can react.”
An opportunity for international schools: “The truth is that Brexit was an incentive because the odds were, and still are, that Frankfurt could be the biggest beneficiary of any exodus that takes place.” https://t.co/W96tTao7jZ
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) May 27, 2019
While there are some parties reserving spots, these parents are not confirming. And while schools know figures like the number of big offices relocating to European outposts, or the number of workers transferring, they do not have information on the number of children and what ages they are, making things like hiring teachers and preparing space to accommodate this potential influx of new recruits increasingly difficult.
Despite Brexit-induced uncertainty, data from the Independent Schools Council (ISC) show many independent schools have recorded an increase in the number of pupils from European Economic Area (EEA) countries in the current academic year. Across the 1,364 ISC member schools, there are now a record 536,109 pupils, up from 529,164 in 2018.
Almost half (45 percent) of the 26,370 non-British pupils whose parents live in the UK come from EEA countries, an increase of three percent from last year.
ISC chairman, Barnaby Lenon, said: “While most independent schools are small schools serving their local community, some attract pupils of many different nationalities and these young people have a positive influence on our ability to understand other cultures as well as the country’s economy and our intellectual base.
“It is perhaps surprising to see an increase in the number of EEA pupils at ISC schools given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, but clearly much value is placed on the broad all-round education independent schools offer, their inclusive environments, and commitment to supporting the development of globally conscious young people.”
I was delighted to speak to @amietsang from @nytimes about the uncertainty Brexit is bringing to the recruitment of pupils in smaller schools. We’re buoyant & growing, but it’s taken some careful planning & work by the management team at @DoverCollege. https://t.co/Kg6bAtOdSL
— Gareth Doodes (@DoverCollegeHM) May 28, 2019
Nonetheless, Dover College headmaster Gareth Doodes has changed his business model, since fewer parents are sending their children across the channel to the boarding school on England’s southeast caost to learn English this summer.
Speaking to the New York Times, Doodes said: “We now have more pupils who come to us from non-EU countries than before so I don’t find myself in a financial deficit.”