Up-to-speed on: preparing for Brexit


The DfE has released advice for schools and colleges on how to prepare for the UK leaving the EU.


The EU Settlement Scheme


EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, as well as family members from non-EU, non-EEA and non-Swiss countries, will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they are planning to continue living in the UK after 2020. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the EU Settlement Scheme would remain open to those living in the UK on the date of exit – the deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021. You can find out who needs to apply by visiting the EU Settlement Scheme page.


Irish citizens’ right to live in the UK will not change when the UK leaves the EU, with or without a deal, but family members who are not Irish or British citizens will need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.


Schools, colleges, FE providers and apprenticeship providers can play a part in informing relevant pupils, families and staff about the EU Settlement Scheme by using this toolkit.


EU pupils and staff arriving after Brexit


In 2021, the UK will introduce a new skills-based immigration system.


In the case of a no deal Brexit, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving after the day of exit will be able to enter the UK as they do now, for a temporary period of up to three months. This will change after the new immigration system is introduced in 2021.


Those who wish to live, work and study in the UK for more than three months will need to apply for European temporary leave to remain, to stay in the UK for up to 36 months if approved.


Under the UK’s new skills-based immigration system in 2021, those wishing to stay in the UK for more than 36 months will be required to apply and qualify for an immigration status. Further information can be found on the employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members after Brexit page.


Admissions and school places


Any child living in the UK has access to a school place in England regardless of their nationality or immigration status – this will not change after Brexit. The right of Irish nationals to access education in the UK will continue to be protected.


EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, will continue to be entitled to attend a state-funded school. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will need to successfully apply for European temporary leave to remain. This will entitle them to attend a state-funded school until their temporary leave to remain ends. After that time, the UK’s new immigration system will apply to them.


EU, EEA and Swiss children arriving after 31 December 2020, who are not dependents of UK residents (or of parents in the UK on a work or study visa) will need to meet the requirements of the future immigration system to study in the UK. This will not permit non-dependent foreign national children to enter the country to attend a state-funded school.


State-funded schools that routinely recruit EU, EEA and Swiss nationals from overseas should re-evaluate their recruitment strategy as a result of the above changes to the immigration system.


UK nationals with children who return from the EU after the UK leaves the EU will continue to be entitled to apply for a school place.


Eligibility for 16-19 places and funding


After the UK leaves the EU, 16-19 education and training funding, including student financial support to help with participation costs, will continue to be provided to those who have the right of abode, right to work, or who have recently settled status, including those under humanitarian protection or having refugee status.


The eligibility rules that apply for the funding starting from 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2020, whether we leave the EU with or without a deal, are set out in the published document ‘Funding guidance for young people 2019 to 2020: funding regulations’.


EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, within the scope of the EU Settlement Scheme, will continue to be eligible for FE 19+ and apprenticeships funding on broadly the same basis as they are now.


Irish nationals will be able to continue accessing further education 19+ and apprenticeships in England, subject to meeting the current eligibility criteria. This will be on terms equivalent to those for UK nationals.


EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members, starting FE 19+ and apprenticeships in England in the 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021 academic years will remain eligible for FE and apprenticeship support, regardless of whether there is a deal in place or not. This will be provided for the duration of their FE or apprenticeship, providing they continue to meet the eligibility requirements. Advanced Learner Loans from Student Finance England will also be accessible for these groups during this time.


There will be updates concerning funding rules, advice and guidance for prospective EU, EEA and Swiss students and apprentices on accessing funding ahead of the 2021 to 2022 academic year and subsequent years in plenty of time before any changes take effect.


UK nationals studying and living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland can find more information concerning what support is available to them through the guidance on the rights of UK nationals here.


For more information see:



Recognition of teaching qualifications


EU, EEA, and Swiss professionals whose qualifications have been recognised by the date of exit will still have the right to have their professional status and qualifications considered for the award of QTS in England under a no deal Brexit.


There will be no change for people who have received recognition of their EU, EEA or Swiss teaching qualifications through the award of the QTS by the date of exit, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, there will be no change for people who have received recognition of their EU, EEA or Swiss teaching qualifications through the award of the QTS on or before 31 December 2020.


For those who are yet to receive or apply for a recognition decision by the date of exit, requirements will change.


After the UK leaves the EU, the government will ensure that teachers with EU, EEA, or Swiss qualifications will still have a way to seek recognition of their professional qualifications through a new system from the point of exit.


Further information on the recognition of qualifications in a no deal scenario is available here. Details about recognition for teachers can be found on the QTS page, here.


EEA teacher sanctions or restrictions


If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, the existing system for checking EEA sanctions will remain in place until at least 31 December 2020.


Under a no deal scenario, you must continue to carry out the same safer recruitment checks for applicants who have lived or worked outside the UK as for all other staff. You must also continue to carry out further checks where appropriate, so they can consider any relevant events that occurred outside the UK.


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 automatically have this information.


‘Keeping children safe in education’ will be updated to advise you about this further. We will keep you up-to-date with any updates to this document as they happen.


Travelling to the EU


No changes to travel will occur before the end of 2020 if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.


If there is no deal, you will need to take new action before travelling to anywhere in the EU on a trip. For more information on what to do before a trip to the EU, including passports and health cover, access the following guidance here. The NHS has also provided advice on access to healthcare for UK nationals studying or travelling abroad. Collective passports will remain in force when the UK leaves the EU.


Foreign travel advice are available for the latest updates on specific countries. There is also an option to sign up for an email alert subscription for foreign travel advice for your relevant country.


If you are arranging school travel to the EU with sports, exhibitions or other equipment, please check the guidance on taking equipment to the EU.


If you are preparing to travel to the EU by coach, please check the following guidance.


EU member states will continue to accept UK school groups travelling on a List of Travellers visa scheme until the end of 2020 if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.


If there is a no deal Brexit, member states will be able to decide whether to accept the List of Travellers visa scheme for UK school groups.


Food Supplies


The government has been working to ensure that goods can continue to flow into the UK without significant delays as a result of additional controls and checks. The government also continuously engages with a wide range of stakeholders to support industry preparedness, but there is no control over the checks imposed by EU Member States at the EU side of the border.


To prepare for a no deal departure from the EU, the government, including the DfE, will continue to work with food suppliers. It is advised that you contact your food supplier(s) if your school procures food directly (or your LA or academy trust if they arrange food on your school’s behalf) to ensure provisions are in place to avoid food shortages in the event of a no deal Brexit, such as an adapted menu to allow for product substitution.


LAs and schools must exercise their power to provide all registered pupils with a meal when requested. These meals should be provided free of charge for pupils who meet the criteria for free school meals.


This would also include seeking reassurance on the ability of suppliers to continue to meet nutritional standards and continue to accommodate special dietary needs and allergens when introducing substitute products.


Medical supplies


The government is working closely with the NHS and its suppliers to help ensure the continued supply of medicines and medical devices into the UK without significant delays in case of a no deal Brexit. You should continue with their normal arrangements for medical supplies to support pupils with health conditions.


If you have any concerns regarding meeting statutory duties relating to SEND, health and safety, or safeguarding, you should work with your LA or academy trust to ensure robust contingency plans are in place.


For more information read the guidance on ‘Planning for a possible no-deal Brexit: information for the health and care sector’.


Data protection steps to take


Leaving the EU without a deal will affect the way you process personal data. If your school only works within the UK and does not transfer data within the EEA, there is no immediate change; however, you 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 you 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 instances 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 of the GDPR.
  • 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 (DPIA) and privacy notices, are up-to-date, to reflect any changes that have been made to working practices.


Data controllers and 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.


What’s next?





DfE (2019) ‘Brexit guide: data protection for education providers’ <https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-exit-guide-data-protection-for-education-providers> [Accessed: 24 July 2019]

DfE (2019) ‘Brexit: preparations for further education and apprenticeship providers’ <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-exit-no-deal-preparations-for-further-education-and-apprenticeship-providers> [Accessed: 24 July 2019]

DfE (2019) ‘Brexit: preparations for schools in England’ <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-exit-no-deal-preparations-for-schools-in-england>  [Accessed: 24 July 2019]