Leaving the EU with a deal remains the UK Government’s top priority. However, like all departments across the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), the Department of Education (DE) is planning for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario and any possible impact it may have on the education sector in Northern Ireland.
We are working with organisations involved in the delivery of education to ensure that services are protected, as much as possible, from any disruption.
Education, childcare and youth settings will continue to operate as normal as we do not anticipate any immediate impact on the day-to-day provision of services. Schools and other providers do not need to do anything new or different.
Advice and information for schools and other education settings on Brexit is contained in this document which will continue to be updated.
The UK Government has produced a comprehensive range of advice and information on the EU Exit which is available at: Prepare for EU Exit website
Information is also available on nidirect
Will pupils living in the Republic of Ireland still be able to attend school in Northern Ireland?
Children living on one side of the border are able to access an education on the other side of the border.
In relation to the impact of EU Exit, the Common Travel Area provides citizens of the UK and Republic of Ireland with the right to access services, including education, in the other jurisdiction. Both Governments have committed to taking steps to ensure that this continues after the UK leaves the EU.
Cross-border motorists may also wish to review updated information and advice: Cross-border motorists
Are schools allowed to continue teaching pupils who are EU nationals?
The right of Irish nationals to access education in Northern Ireland will continue to be protected under the Common Travel Area arrangements.
The school admissions process in Northern Ireland does not take into account either immigration status or nationality and so schools must not deny a child a place on the basis of their nationality or migration status. Schools are, however, required by law to prioritise children resident in NI at the time of their proposed admission over other children.
In a no deal scenario, following the UK’s exit from the EU, EEA EFTA and Swiss nationals living in the UK by 29 March 2019 can remain in the UK and access benefits and public services, including education, on broadly the same terms as now. They would need, however, to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 31 December 2020 to remain beyond this date. The government has published arrangements for these EU citizens in the case of a non-negotiated exit from the EU and for EEA EFTA and Swiss nationals.
Will there be problems with the supply of food which impacts on the school meals service?
The Department of Education and its stakeholders will continue to work with food suppliers to prepare for a no deal departure from the EU. Schools have some flexibilities within the nutritional standards for school lunches and other food and drink in schools. Schools must exercise their power to provide meals to all registered pupils who request one. Where the pupil is entitled to free school meals, the meal must be provided, free of charge.
The Education Authority (EA) is engaging with its school catering suppliers to prepare for a no deal departure from the EU. If they have not already done so, all other school meal services should also engage with their catering suppliers. When reviewing existing contingency plans, all school meals services may need to review menu options and services other than meals at lunchtime in the event of delays or disruption to food deliveries. Schools will be kept informed of such changes as far as possible.
How do schools manage potential disruption of pupils/teachers getting to school in the morning?
This is an operational matter for schools which should be managed following their normal protocols or by seeking advice from the relevant employing authority (EA, CCMS etc.) as necessary. If there is significant disruption, which results in a principal deciding a school should close, schools should immediately inform EA using the contact details below. Schools should continue to follow DE guidance on exceptional closures: DE Exceptional closure days
What happens if examinations are disrupted?
The NI Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has prepared a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for schools and colleges in the event that they should face any potential disruption to the conduct of examinations. The FAQs may be accessed here.
Will school transport arrangements change following 29 March 2019?
In the event of any disruption to school transport services, the Education Authority (EA) has been working with Translink and information will be available from both EA and Translink. EA will upload live updates to its social media platforms and website:
EA Contact details
The EA has established a dedicated point of contact for schools to report any issues, concerns or queries in relation to exiting the EU.
Please email EUExitSharedMailbox@eani.org.uk or telephone 028 9056 4288 and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
All grant-aided schools, including voluntary grammar and grant-maintained integrated schools, must report any issue or incident related to EU Exit to the EA’s dedicated point of contact. Independent schools may also report EU Exit issues/incidents to the EA if they so wish.