The DfE has released advice for schools and colleges on how to prepare for if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


Access to education


In a no deal exit, EU, EEA, EFTA and Swiss nationals and their family members living in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to remain in the UK and work, study, and access benefits and services on broadly the same terms as now – this includes access to education.


The EU Settlement Scheme


EU, EEA, EFTA and Swiss citizens will need to apply to stay in the UK if they are planning to continue living in the UK after 2020. If we leave the EU with no deal, the EU Settlement Scheme would be open to those living in the UK by 29 March 2019 – the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, but their family members who are not Irish or British citizens will need to. The rights to work, study, and access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals.

Schools can play a part in informing relevant pupils, families and staff about the EU Settlement Scheme by using this toolkit. FE colleges and apprenticeship providers should also make EU, EEA, EFTA and Swiss citizens undertaking apprenticeships aware of the scheme.


Admissions and free school meals (FSM)


Any child living in the UK can apply for and access a school place in England regardless of migration status – this will not change after Brexit. The right of Irish nationals to access education in the UK will continue to be protected.

Applications for a school place can be made from overseas by those with a right of residence in the UK, but admission authorities and LAs may require an applicant to provide proof of residence in the UK so that schools can apply their admission arrangements. UK nationals returning from the EU should be considered for admission to a school on the same basis as people living in the UK – they will also be legally entitled to access benefits in the same way as they are now.

EU, EEA, EFTA and Swiss nationals that are currently entitled to FSM will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline to remain eligible beyond 31 December 2020.


Eligibility for 16-19 places and funding


EU, EEA, EFTA and Swiss nationals who can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to be eligible for funding for FE and training.

UK nationals returning to England will be able to access 16-19 education and training provided they are living in the UK at the start of the study programme.  

The government has said that they are committed to maintaining the rights of Irish nationals to access FE courses in the UK on a reciprocal basis.


Recognition of teaching qualifications


EU, EEA, EFTA and Swiss professionals whose qualifications have been recognised before 29 March 2019, or who have applied for a recognition decision before that time, will still have the right to have their professional status and qualifications considered for the award of QTS in England under a no deal exit.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the current system of reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications between the EU, EEA, EFTA and Switzerland and the UK will not apply after 29 March 2019.

After the UK leaves the EU, the government will ensure that teachers with EU, EEA, EFTA or Swiss qualifications will still have a way to seek recognition of their professional qualifications.


EEA teacher sanctions or restrictions


Under a no deal scenario, the requirement for EEA professional regulating authorities to share details of any sanction or restriction imposed on teachers will no longer apply – this means the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) will no longer have this information.

‘Keeping children safe in education’ will be updated to advise schools and colleges about this further.


Travelling to the EU


If there is no deal, schools and colleges will need to take new action before travelling to anywhere in the EU on a trip. Guidance has been published on the issues that will need to be considered when planning travel to the EU, including in relation to passports, health cover and transport.

There will be full protection and maintenance of the current arrangement for journeys between the UK and Ireland for UK and Irish citizens.


Data protection steps to take


Leaving the EU without a deal will affect the way in which schools process personal data. If schools only work within the UK and do not transfer data within the EEA, there is no immediate change; however, schools will need to ensure they continue to comply with UK data protection law.

Leaving the EU with no deal will mean that the GDPR is brought into UK law. The GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 will continue to apply to data transferred within or from the UK.

If schools transfer data within the EEA, they should:

  • Read the ICO’s advice on data protection and Brexit.
  • Reassure people with whom they share personal data in the EEA that they can continue to do so lawfully once the UK leaves the EU, since the UK will continue to allow personal data to be sent from the UK to the EEA.
  • Identify the incidents where data is received from the EEA and, for each incident, identify who the data controllers and processors are, and where the data is stored.
  • Consider whether Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) are suitable, for example, if a data controller is based in the EEA. If SCCs are not appropriate, the GDPR has other articles that will provide schools with the additional safeguarding measures – these can be found in Articles 46 and 49.
  • In addition to any existing contracts, schools will need to ensure that any new contract put in place after an EU exit (that includes the processing of personal data in the EU) provides the additional safeguards required.
  • Ensure that all documentation, such as data protection impact assessments and privacy notices, are up-to-date, to reflect any changes that have been made to working practices.

Data controllers and data processors should follow the ICO website for progress on the discussions with the EU on the ‘adequacy agreement’, which will allow the UK to process personal data freely across the EEA. Schools should also keep up-to-date with guidance from the department on data protection issues.


Other considerations





DfE (2019) ‘EU exit guide: data protection for education providers’ <> [Accessed: 3 April 2019]

DfE (2019) ‘EU exit: no deal preparations for schools in England’ <>  [Accessed: 31 January 2019]

DfE (2019) ‘EU exit: no deal preparations for FE and apprenticeship providers’ <> [Accessed: 31 January 2019]