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Headteachers warn of ‘repeat of Windrush’ scandal post-Brexit, headteachers warn

Requiring schools to help families and staff with their settled status could have ‘unintended consequences,’ The National Association of Head Teachers says

HEADTEACHERS have warned of a repeat of Windrush or the hostile environment if schools are required to help families and staff with their settled status following Brexit.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said today that it was concerned about “unintended consequences” if schools became involved in the process.

School leaders should only be required to direct those who may need to apply for permanent leave to remain in Britain to official information about the European Union Settlement Scheme, the union said.

The Department for Education (DfE) says schools should help staff, parents and carers by directing them to the support and resources that have been made available.

NAHT senior policy adviser Ian Hartwright said it must be clear that it is not for schools to try to identify individuals who need to apply for settled status.

He said: “Really, their role is to signpost anybody who needs help to government-produced materials.

“We think there is a real risk of unintended consequences if schools are asked to do anything else other than that, because it could result in children going missing from education.

“Not all EU migrants are highly skilled individuals who will find these things easy to navigate.

“We wouldn’t want any repeat of Windrush or hostile-environment stuff where people might be fearful of engaging with authorities around that.”

Mr Hartwright said the union had been given assurances by government that there was plenty of help available to those who need it, and that there would be no “hostile-environment situation around this.”

The Association of School and College Leaders also raised concerns about the impact of Brexit on schools, particularly their foreign-language departments.

General secretary Geoff Barton said: “Two-thirds of state schools and 79 per cent of independent schools have one or more staff [member] from EU countries, according to a recent survey by the British Council. This supply line is vital.

“Language teaching is in crisis, with severe teacher shortages and a long-term decline in French and German entries at GCSE and A-level.”

He added that it was “essential that the post-Brexit visa system is as supportive as possible to recruiting staff from EU countries and does not create hurdles which worsen the pressure on language teaching.”

Arrangements for the recognition of professional qualifications after December 31 this year are subject to further negotiations between Britain and the EU, the DfE said.

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