In 2019/20, Secondary schools from across England were awarded grants to travel all over the world, through funding from the Department for Education in partnership with the British Council. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many schools could not travel, but those who did were able to give their pupils truly exceptional experiences of different countries and cultures.

I’m truly so grateful for the opportunity, it’s taught me so much and has been an incredibly valuable experience, one of which I will definitely carry with me. It’s also given me more motivation to travel and get to experience new things. Thank you so much for allowing me to make the most of the trip, for giving me a wider perspective of what daily life entails for different people and for letting us experience a brand-new culture altogether. Genuinely was the most amazing week I've ever had the privilege of experiencing and now I am so lucky to be able to share it with my friends and peers and to look back on it in the future (and hopefully return one day).Pupil from North Leamington School on their trip to India.

It was an excellent experience for all staff and students involved. I’m certain that this has had an impact on our students’ awareness of other cultures and norms. Equally, there was a positive buzz in the school overall after the arrival of the Spanish students. A great experience overall!Head Teacher from Priory Community School on their trip to Spain.

Due to travel restrictions, we are not currently taking grant applications, however we are reviewing options and hope to launch the next phase soon.

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Which schools can apply?

  • The programme is for schools and colleges in England only.
  • Grants are available for pupils aged 11-19. 
  • Sixth-form colleges and further education colleges can apply, so long as the pupils who will benefit are within the age range.
  • Special/SEN schools can apply.
  • Independent schools cannot apply.

What are the rules about pupil premium?

  • Not all the pupils travelling have to be eligible for pupil premium. The grants given through this programme should enable the students on pupil premium to participate without being asked to pay.
  • You need to make your activity as inclusive as possible, to allow access for the most disadvantaged. You should have a strategy for lowering the barriers to participation to get more students involved who wouldn’t normally get this opportunity.

What kinds of trips are eligible?

  • Trips can be to any country (Europe, or wider World) for a minimum of four nights.

  • The trip must not be a holiday. Your trip must be centred around a visit to a partner school with the two peer groups of young people engaging on a theme and learning together. Young people are encouraged to stay with host families where possible. If the visit is not a homestay, you must ensure a lot of contact (ideally daily) with pupils from the partner school, and try to involve their families and others in the local community, if possible.

  • Visits should have a curriculum focus and/or support soft skills. They do not need to focus on language learning, although we welcome those that do.

What will the grant cover?

  • Grants can cover international travel for pupils and accompanying teachers, accommodation and subsistence, local transport and administration costs. Check the Programme Guidance notes for more information on what costs are eligible.

  • Your grant can cover a trip you are already planning, so long as it meets the criteria.

  • Grants cannot be used towards the costs of a tour company for logistical arrangements (as this is profit-making from grant money).

How can I find a partner school?

You can partner with a school in any country, and find a partner any way you choose:

  • Have you worked with any other schools on projects before?
  • Do your teachers, parents or pupils have links to other schools?
  • Is your town twinned with another?

Use our free Partner Finder to find a school to work with.

You can also find partner schools in Europe through eTwinning.

How can my partner school secure funding to make a return visit?

If this is a concern for your partner school, contact us at school.exchanges@britishcouncil.org and we can help you to explore possibilities.

How can I get help with my application?

Guidance and frequently asked questions:

Simplify the planning of your school visit by reading our guidance for making international visits safe and successful. It provides sample templates and forms to help you organise your visit.

More questions? Watch part one and part two of our Facebook Live chat where we discussed how your school could benefit from the funding and answered viewers' questions.

If you need any further assistance with your application please contact us.

How to apply:

  • Register as a user for our grant form here.
  • Log on to the system.
  • You will see a list of available forms. Choose the International School Exchanges form.
  • Complete the form. You can save and return as many times as you like before you submit the application.
  • The application is checked for eligibility, and externally assessed twice, using the quality criteria.
  • A programme panel verifies the procedure and signs-off the grants.
  • Grant agreements are awarded, and paid 80%-20%.
  • Final reports should be submitted within one month of your return. You do not have to submit receipts (but you must keep them for audit purposes).