Frankfurt is probably the most cosmopolitan city of all German cities. The American Headquarter in Frankfurt after World War Two left behind an Anglo-American culture as well as infrastructure which has made integration of English and American families much easier. So, Brexit should not be a problem – in theory.
There are international Kindergartens in Frankfurt as well as elementary schools with teachers well-versed in the English language.
Several private Frankfurt Grammar Schools/High Schools are specialized in educating Children with Anglo-American background.
Various international schools in Frankfurt, which are involved in further education on grammar school or high school level, have a good track record with integrating school children having initially been exposed to pure English or American education. The curriculum is generally bi-lingual whereby some subjects are taught in English, others being taught in German. There are, however, significant differences between schools which parents may wish to explore before making a decision.
Some bold parents may even consider German state schools. The educational standard of state schools is usually as high or even higher than that of private schools. But the syllabus is different as they cater largely for children with German language background. Although the language spoken there is primarily German, all schools in further education offer English language classes. Again, there is a great variety of different types of schools with varying syllabus.
Under these circumstances, an eventual return of families with kids and students to England, America or Japan is usually a viable option.
Although the psychological and educational aspects are of greater importance to families, the cost factor plays a part too. Although state and church kindergartens charge a monthly fee of approximately 250 EUR, the costs are still fairly low in international comparison. Although being usually more expensive, private kindergartens provide for longer daily tuition usually until the early evening. State schools are generally free of charge although modest financial contributions or donations are being expected for extra-curricular activities or for support of children in need.
Private schools charge monthly fees, which are sometimes significant (e.g. approx. EUR 20.000 per school year) but still lower than in most English public schools. In Germany, licensed private schools are also partially funded by the state.
The expected greater demand in kindergarten places and schools resulting from Brexit will, nonetheless, be a challenge to Frankfurt. Some schools are planning to increase their capacities. Others are planning to build new international school. But, so far, the plans have not yet resulted in concrete action although Frankfurt city planners expect an influx of at least 10.000 families currently working in the London banking and financial brokerage sector. Four of the five big US Investment Firms as well as a number of Japanese financial institutions are likely to significantly increase their presence in Frankfurt.
There are reasons for such reluctance to build ahead of actual demand.
Some of the bankers may wish to commute from London to Frankfurt and vice versa, leaving their families in England for good reasons: Children have friends and school teachers they know. It is natural that they feel comfortable in their current educational environment. But most employees are expected to take their families with them for very good reasons. For a banker working in Germany and having his family in some other country does not really help the banker or his/her family longer term.
Regrettably, the current Brexit negotiations and the constant fight over the agenda are of little help to these families planning to move to Frankfurt. Such political impasse at such early stage of Brexit negotiations make a forecast for Frankfurt City planners and schools practically impossible. It is very unfortunate that these primarily English, American and Japanese families, who are affected by Brexit and would desperately need clear guidance, are being badly let down by the Brexit negotiators.
Is it therefore not time to seriously consider a second referendum? Nobody expected such a mess not least these naïve Brexiteers.
In view of these important side aspects of Brexit one would wish that the negotiators would assume their responsibility for the well-being of people and provide a clearer picture of the Brexit times ahead.
Also, the Frankfurt City planners as well as the existing private Schools and institutions in Frankfurt have a right to know the actual future demand on school infrastructure in Frankfurt. Unless the political negotiators get their act together quickly, the families and particularly their children affected by Brexit will suffer. These are only undesirable side effects of Brexit. But they are worth being addressed soon.
Rechtsanwalt & Solicitor (England & Wales)