Recruitment is the main concern of schools ahead of Brexit

  • Teachers are confident that British qualifications will still be recognised in the same way after Britain leaves the EU

The uncertainty of the approaching exit of the UK from the EU is a problem that is also raising concerns among British schools in Spain. Adrian Massam, president of the Nabss executive committee, said that there were two areas of concern.

The first is the recruitment of teachers from the UK. "It's been a comfortable process since Spain entered the EU [...] as they have an automatic right to live and work in Spain. If that changes, the main concern isn't that it will be impossible to recruit teachers from the UK, but that it will be more complicated because of the paperwork required. That would make recruiting at very short notice quite difficult."

Massam pointed out this week that a bilateral agreement would simplify the process but, as yet, no one knows when or whether this will be signed.

"The association of British Schools in Spain has suggested to the authorities and to the embassies that it would be in lots of people's interest to have an easy route which could be reciprocal," said Massam.

The lack of a firm promise of an agreement concerns Víctor Ranea, business manager at Aloha College in Marbella.

"No one can tell us anything. We're living in a tense calm as we understand that no one wants to lose British education outside the UK," he told SUR. He added that the recruitment of teachers was likely to be a problem as it would require more complex paperwork. "I imagine they are working on a global agreement and that they will go into more detail later. But it's true that we are near the deadline and we ought to know more."

Another area of concern is whether students from British schools will still be able to use their British qualifications to access Spanish universities. "There is currently a very simple route via the EU that we hope to conserve, but it's not just for EU countries but also for countries with a bilateral agreement on recognition of qualifications," said the Nabss committee president this week.

"We've already made both ministries aware of the strong interests in having a bilateral agreement, if and when the UK leaves the EU. There's no bilateral agreement in place yet, but we've had very positive feedback from the EU. Nobody has seen any strong reason why it shouldn't happen," said Massam.

"We feel more optimistic about the qualifications issue being solved than about the recruitment issue being solved," he added.

The management at the British School of Malaga is similarly positive about the validity of British qualifications. "Apart from the legal synergies between the EU member countries, the recognition of studies is covered by bilateral agreements on education, so a possible 'hard' Brexit shouldn't affect it," said the school's head of Spanish Raúl Rico.

Meanwhile Adrian Massam is confident that Britain's exit from the EU is unlikely to affect the numbers of students at British schools in Spain.

"I don't think there'll be a huge difference in the number of British living in Spain, once the dust settles," he said.