Frankfurt international schools feel Brexit boost

Frankfurt’s international schools see a bonus from Brexit after a deluge of calls from bankers who are set to be posted to Germany’s financial centres now that the UK has decided to leave the EU.

Frankfurt international schools feel Brexit boost

The city is the most popular place for banks to set up their new EU headquarters, prompting a surge of interest in its 12 international schools which teach in English and follow baccalaureate programmes.

Paul Fochtman, head of the Frankfurt International School, said his usually quiet summer holiday was spent this year hosting planning calls three times a week to discuss Brexit.

“There’s no question a number of people are coming here,” Fochtman said.

Studies show up to 10,000 jobs could move from London to Frankfurt over the next four years, according to Frankfurt Main Finance, a lobbying group that promotes the city as a financial hub, possibly bringing with them thousands of students.

Among banks that announced plans to relocate some of their EU operations to Frankfurt are Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Standard Chartered. A number of Japanese banks have opted for Frankfurt including Daiwa, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mizuho Financial, and Nomura Holdings.

Although schools are keen on new business, they are cautious about the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, wary the influx of bankers could be lower than some lobby groups estimated or that some may commute while their children stay in London.

Even though Brexit only becomes official in March 2019, schools are proving to be an early indicator of future moves given the importance that parents put on a child’s education, which is often paid for by the employer.

“School is often the number one barrier to a move for families”, said Mr Fochtman, whose school is losing 50 pupils after General Motors reduced its workforce in Frankfurt following a takeover of its Opel unit by France’s PSA Group.

Frankfurt’s Strothoff International School said it was looking to buy land to build a new campus which would double its student body.

In their pitches to attract bankers leaving London Dublin and Paris also committed to providing new schools for bankers’ children.

Schools have said they will need financial guarantees to fund any significant expansion. One executive of a US bank said it was in discussion with schools in Frankfurt to secure places and was asked to pay money in advance.

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit was behind the caution. “We are left holding the bag” if the school builds for an additional 2,000 and fewer show up,” said Fochtman.

At Strothoff International School, south of Frankfurt, Bettina Otto, head of administration, said she was in contact with banks and was looking at several options for a new campus to increase the student body from 300 to 800. She has already raised teaching staff numbers by five to 60, partly due to Brexit.

In Dublin, a new private international school catering for local and expatriate students aged three to 18 years is scheduled to open in September 2018 and is hoping to benefit from relocating bankers.

As part of Paris’s charm offensive to net employees from the big banks, France has pledged to build three more international schools targeted at expatriates’ children in the greater Paris region by 2022.

“The most expensive international school here [Frankfurt] would be considered to be in the lower price bracket compared to other international schools across Europe,” said Eric Menges of city marketing body FrankfurtRheinMain.

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