Majority of families staying despite Brexit and Covid
Children celebrate Polish Independence Day in Ealing: Picture: Polish Saturday School
The number of Polish speaking children in state schools in Ealing has fallen steadily since the Brexit Referendum according to new figures.
There are 3,740 such children in the borough in 2021 down 14.2% from 2017. However the current number remains above the level seen in 2015 and the majority of Polish families have remained in the borough despite the challenges of Brexit and Covid.
The data published by the London based Federation of Poles in Great Britain shows there was a total of 28,061 children attending state schools in London, from first schools to sixth form colleges, who use Polish as their first language at home with Ealing having the largest number. For London as a whole the number has fallen by 7.8% compared to the previous year and a 13.7% since a peak of 32,518 in 2017.
The Polish Saturday School which was set up in 1951 and is currently based in St. Benedict’s School has over 600 pupils and is believed to be the largest of its kind in the country. Many Poles settled in the Ealing area after the war having served with the RAF at Northolt.
There are just over 100,000 Polish citizens registered to vote in London elections of which 12,625 are in the borough of Ealing the biggest amount by a wide margin. This is down from a peak of 14,861 in 2018.
There has been a steady reduction in numbers with each year since 2018, but this has accelerated since 2020. The Federation of Poles believes that this suggests that the Covid restrictions could have been an even more important factor in the recent departure of Polish-speaking children than Brexit.
It points to anecdotal evidence that many Polish families tried to live out the Covid pandemic by joining their families in Poland in 2020 and travel restrictions since then have kept many of them there, as Poland remains within the amber travel zone set up by the UK government. Also there are currently quarantine restrictions in Poland in relation to travellers from the UK.
All London boroughs had experienced a dramatic rise in Polish-speaking children since 2007, when Polish families began to establish themselves in the UK following the accession of Poland into the European Community (later the European Union) in 2004.
By April 2021, 911,240 Polish citizens in the UK had successfully applied for settled status.. The Polish language remains the most common foreign language used at home as a mother tongue within the UK and Poles are the fourth largest foreign ethnic group in London .
The Federation of Poles in Great Britain CIO are a Polish umbrella group for the Polish organisations in Great Britain set up in 1947. On 4 June they sent a letter to the Prime Minister giving ten reasons why the deadline for settled status applications should have been extended after 30 June.
Dr Włodzimierz Mier Jędrzejowicz, President of the Federation of Poles, said, "While we are grateful to the British government and to the British people for their overall welcoming acceptance of Polish migrants ever since Polish armed forces operated from Britain in World War II as allies, with the British Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Federation of Poles will continue to bring attention to some of the problems following Brexit, which appears to have led to a partial exodus from the UK, and which we have recently raised in relation to applications for settled status."
Wiktor Moszczynski, Federation spokesman, has said "Despite the recent exodus, Polish families in this country are largely law abiding and hardworking UK taxpayers, who have made a great contribution to the social and cultural fabric in the UK as well as to its economy. Leaving aside occasional expressions of hate crime and discrimination, Poles have settled well in this country and are resilient enough to survive both Brexit and the pandemic."
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July 8, 2021