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Pupils from Non-UK EU Countries

Volume 612: debated on Monday 4 July 2016

6. If she will make it her policy that all school children who are non-UK EU nationals retain access to the education system in the event of the UK leaving the EU. (905614)

As a matter of principle all children resident in the United Kingdom receive a free state school education. That provision goes back to 1880, when compulsory attendance at school to age 10 was introduced in England and Wales. The UK remains a member of the EU until the article 50 negotiations have concluded, which could take two years or more. Until the process is completed, nothing will change. Let me tell the hon. Gentleman my view, because the Home Secretary is about to make a statement on this issue: I think that EU citizens already here, including children, should have the right to remain.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but does she recognise the impact that such uncertainty is having on young people and their education? The First Minister, the National Association of Head Teachers and others are seeking precisely these assurances, so can she give an assurance that children from EU countries will be allowed to complete their education and will not be used as bargaining chips in negotiations about Brexit?

The hon. Gentleman makes a very powerful case. There is obviously an awful lot to discuss in the light of the result of 23 June, which is not the result that I campaigned for. I completely accept his point that we should of course make sure that children of non-UK EU nationals resident here are educated.