Russell Slatford, head teacher of Bournemouth Collegiate Senior School, on why the B-word shouldn’t put you off travelling.
With Brexit fast approaching, schools will have to consider what effect the separation will have on our schools and in particular, our school trips. As Headmaster at Bournemouth Collegiate School, a day and boarding school overlooking the south coast, I have, alongside many other Heads of boarding schools have the added dimension of how the process might change for crossing the borders.
Schools trips are notoriously important for young people. It’s a chance to leave the classroom and a gain an insight into an education you cannot learn between four walls and a textbook.
So, will the borders that were once open become more restricted? I hope not, as the systems and processes in place across the EU currently allow schools to help provide educational opportunities like this one. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance overseas trips, particular to events and areas of significance, can have on helping young people to develop deeper understanding and a sense of empathy or appreciation that can be harder to achieve in a school setting.
Currently the logistics of taking trips to Europe are thankfully straightforward, for instance schools are able to provide, with official authorisation, a list of non-EU pupils who are able to travel without a visa.
At the moment, the procedure for visa applications is relatively straight forward from a school perspective. As we pass through the Brexit transitional tunnel will it be the case when we emerge the other side, that our trip to the battlefields of the Great War will require several trips into London to apply for and collect visas? Will the non-EU pupils be required to go through a different and more cumbersome process? If so, trips like these may be more expensive and complicated, and to that end, may be lost and with their departure we take away the richness, diversity and opportunities that come through our membership of the EU.
But we shouldn’t let this discourage us. Whilst the focus of the post-Brexit travel arrangement with the EU will focus on immigration, tourism and the economy, teachers across the country should not let Brexit stop them from planning trips outside of the UK. There may be a few more hoops to jump through in order to take pupils across the water, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the value and importance to the education of young people (and their teachers) travel around the continent brings to their lives.