£ 2.5million to boost international exchange for schools

Thousands more young people will have the chance to participate in international exchanges and visits thanks to a new £ 2.5million scheme, the Education Secretary said today (Jan. 19).

Schools in England will be able to apply for grants to take pupils aged 11 and over to visit partner schools around the world, giving them the chance to experience different cultures, improve their language skills and strengthen their independence, character and their resilience.

The program, which will mainly focus on supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds, will be carried out in partnership with the British Council – whose own research has found that only 39% of secondary schools organize international exchanges. For independent schools, the figure is 77%.

As education ministers from around the world prepare to gather in London for the World Education Forum, Damian Hinds stressed the importance of ensuring that disadvantaged young people do not miss out on life-changing experiences. life and academic opportunities offered by visits abroad.

Evidence shows companies are increasingly looking for employees with international experience and language skills – and, according to a British Council survey, nearly two-thirds of university language students said an international exchange spurred them on to choose their course.

The program will build on the government’s work to encourage more students to study a foreign language, including their inclusion in the English baccalaureate. Since 2010, we have seen 45% more entries in Chinese GCSE and 51% more entries in Spanish GCSE.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

I want every child to receive a world class education, and that includes the opportunity to experience other cultures and go to places they would not normally visit – whether it is to practice their Mandarin in China or experience the world. American history in the United States.

School exchanges are so valuable, bringing subjects such as modern languages ​​and international history to life, while helping students to grow up to be confident, independent and well-rounded young people.

As Britain leaves the European Union, it is more important than ever to show how much we value international opportunities, learning languages ​​and making sure our young people have a global perspective – whatever. something that I will be discussing with education ministers around the world at the Global Education Forum.

This investment will help schools that may not have much experience organizing overseas trips to ensure that their students do not miss out on all the fantastic benefits that such experiences can bring, encouraging children to expand. their horizons and to aim high throughout their education and beyond.

Sir Ciarán Devane, Managing Director of the British Council, said:

Students will remember a school trip abroad for the rest of their lives – it is an important first step in understanding the world. It encourages children to think about working and studying abroad and sows the seeds of the international cooperation that we encourage among young people around the world.

The program’s focus on disadvantaged students was also welcomed by schools.

Geoff Lumsdon, principal of Seaham High School in County Durham, said:

This program will broaden the international horizons and experience of students, realizing our school’s vision to help the youth of Seaham achieve the best possible results and make a valuable contribution to the global society we all live in now.

Many of our students receive the Student Bonus and we do everything possible to ensure equal opportunity so that all of our students feel safe, free from prejudice and able to develop mutual respect for others. This is an exciting opportunity to ensure that every young person can access international and multicultural experiences so that they are ready for the challenges of the 21st century – and we would love to participate.

Funding will be targeted to schools with a higher than average number of students receiving a bonus. Over the course of the program, it is estimated that trips could be funded for 2,900 students. Young people will be encouraged to stay with host families abroad whenever possible, thus maximizing their opportunity to practice their language skills and fully immerse themselves in another culture.

To make the program as easy as possible for schools to participate, there will be a straightforward application process, grants to cover administrative costs of organizing trips, and seminars to help schools without much experience of international tours find partner institutions abroad – in Europe or further afield.

Schools can express their interest on the British Council website.