AN ENTIRE year group could be made to leave their school as Brexit forces it to abandon its core qualification.

The all-through Europa School in Culham, the UK’s only European School, has written to the 53 students in Year 11 advising them to seek sixth form study elsewhere.

European Schools are schools within the European Union, accredited to offer a specific syllabus including the European Baccalaureate (EB) diploma as an alternative to A-Levels.

Europa is set to lose its status after Brexit and will have to ditch the EB, unless the accreditation board makes an exception to its rules.

A statement released by the 831-pupil state school last week said: "Students have been told to apply for places elsewhere.

"[We are] facing substantial financial and political challenges and no-deal Brexit will cause damage to both students and the school."

Europa opened as a free school in 2012 to replace the European School Culham on the same site, which closed in 2017.

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Last week Ofsted rated it 'good' in all areas, praising its ‘strong and compelling vision for a multicultural, multilingual education’.

The European Schools board of governors has agreed to maintain Europa’s accreditation until the end of this academic year.

In 2020 the school plans to work in partnership with a European School in the Netherlands so pupils currently in Year 12 can complete their baccalaureate.

From then it plans to offer the International Baccalaureate diploma in place of the European Baccalaureate, which share some similarities including that pupils must learn an additional language.

However, pupils currently in Year 11 will miss out by a year, unless the school can secure a better plan.

The school’s chair of governors Andrew Parker said: “To implement any alternative qualification for the Year 11’s will require substantial financial and practical backing from the Department for Education (DfE).

“We are willing to work with them on this contingency plan.”

Among the Year 11s affected is Emma Harries from Didcot, who has penned a 400-word letter to rally support.

The 15-year-old wrote: "People say that education is the most important factor of a human’s life - why are we being chased away when we have already started our exams leading to our baccalaureate?

“We may just be only 53 families, which may seem like an insignificant number to the government, but we have learned to fight against any problems or difficulties we have been faced with.

“Our headteacher and teachers never give up and neither will we.”

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She said the school was ‘special’ and that the EB offers ‘larger choice and opportunity’ than other qualifications.

Emma's mum Fanny Harries, who works as a French teaching assistant at the school, said: "It's not the first time we have had to fight for our European School - it's very important for us to keep it.

"It's so hard to explain the feeling of this school - it's part of our life."

Mrs Harries, who also works in language support at St Birinus School and neighbouring Didcot Girls' School, added: "We stay positive, we have a fantastic headteacher and we are all [united] together.

"This is not a war, we just want to share our feelings because the school is unique.”

Henley MP John Howell set up a petition urging the DfE to allow Europa School to continue offering the European Baccalaureate, regardless of Brexit.

The politician, whose constituency covers Culham, gathered almost 2,500 signatures and presented his case during a parliamentary debate the week before last.

He told the House of Commons the ‘educational future of children is at stake’ and that Europa must not become a ‘casualty’ of Brexit.

Schools minister Nick Gibb told him: "I share admiration for the Europa School and its very high academic standards.

“The Europa School has a thriving community, and it is held in high regard by parents, pupils and the local community.

"Officials in the department have been working closely with the school to prepare for its future after we leave the EU."

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He said he understood the ‘difficult position’ Year 11 pupils were in but added: "The school must continue to prepare to transition to a new curriculum.”

The school's principal Lynn Wood, who took over last year from Peter Ashbourne, said: "Staff, students and parents are committed to the Europa School UK and we have seen a huge wave of support for our school.

"We are all committed to finding a solution for our Year 11s and we would like to thank John Howell for his invaluable support."

Ofsted’s report about the school, published following inspection in December, said: "Pupils follow a unique, challenging, broad and balanced curriculum.

"Provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is strong, not least because the school community comprises pupils from many nationalities who learn and play together harmoniously.

"Governors are proud that the school is the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom and are determined to oversee the next phase of its development."