Le sour grapes… French shun school trips to the UK in favour of Ireland after Brexit swiping that ‘they speak English and you don’t need a passport’
- French headteachers have described post-Brexit regulations as ‘too restrictive’
French schools have been shunning trips to the UK in favour of Ireland as ‘they also speak English and you don’t need a passport to visit’.
Due to the increased bureaucracy of post-Brexit travel to the UK – which includes EU visitors needing to show a passport as opposed to a national identity card – some French headteachers have shifted their focus to Ireland for simplicity.
Many French families do not have passports as they principally travel around Europe’s border-free zone.
And although passports are not the most expensive purchases (costing €17 for under-15s, €42 for those aged 15 to 18 and €86 for adults) for some schools it is a step too far.
Other difficulties include some French pupils from third countries needing a visa to enter the UK – which can cost €118 and require families to travel to major cities to collect.
The number of French students travelling to the UK on school trips has dropped post Brexit
Many French citizens do not actually own passports which incurs an expense to trips
As 7.7 per cent of France’s population is from third countries this presents a significant headache for schools and one that they didn’t have before Brexit.
Articulating the problems faced by the sector, Didier Rys, head of Vauban Lycée in Aire-sur-la-Lys in northern France told French publication La Voix du Nord the new system was ‘onerous’.
He said: ‘Because of Brexit, it’s too restrictive and onerous to go to our English neighbours.
‘You need a passport for each pupil, which is an additional cost for families.’
The piece went on to state that Ireland was now more attractive as ‘they speak English and you don’t need a passport’.
Speaking to the Times, director of UK school trips organiser PG Trips Edward Hisbergues said the new process was like a semi ‘Hundred Years War.’
He said: ‘The families travel to the visa application centre and that can take an enormous amount of time and money if you live in a small village in the Dordogne or somewhere like that. They pay for the visa application but they don’t get their money back if it is refused. It’s very dissuasive.’
‘[The Home Office] seems to think that these pupils are going to stay in the UK illegally, but we send 15,000 pupils a year and I’ve never known any not to come back. What sort of image does this give of the UK?
‘We are in 2023, not 1400. It’s a little bit as though they think they are still in the Hundred Years’ War.’