School Exchanges Programme funding now continued

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. Unfortunately, the programme was put on hold because of the pandemic. 

Now, we are delighted to be able to tell you that the Department for Education has secured funding to continue the programme. This will enable School Exchange visits to go ahead for those schools who were already awarded a grant in the 2019/2020 school year.  

Recognising that we find ourselves in a changing world, the Department for Education is clear that it has never been more important to support the development of confident, globally minded and outward-looking young people. International School Exchange Programmes enable students to spend time exchanging knowledge, culture and experiences with each other. 

Schools that received an International School Exchanges Programme grant during the 2019/20 programme will be able to complete and/or close their project, by July 2022. We recognise that different students and schools are facing different challenges, and there will still be the option for your school not to travel and, if applicable, return the grant money.

This programme extension will give schools across England the chance to take pupils on important life-changing international exchange opportunities.

Schools that already travelled, before the pandemic, 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.

Read the updated guidance for schools travelling to other parts of Europe.

Which schools can apply?

Only schools that received a grant already under the International exchanges for schools in England programme 2019-20 are eligible to continue under the programme in 2021-22.

No applications from other schools will be permitted. 

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?

  • Schools must follow health & safety guidance for COVID-19 for the UK and for the partner country

  • 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.

  • 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).

The criteria for a project to maintain its eligibility, transferring from the programme in 2019-20 to the programme in 2021-22, will be available in Autumn 2021, as well as information about what you can change about project, and how to adjust the grant funding for it.