Programme update (July 2021): Department for Education confirms International School Exchanges programme funding for schools who successfully applied during 2019/2020 school year.

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.

Although the programme was on hold due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the Department for Education (DfE) has now confirmed that they will support schools who successfully applied for the grant in the 2019/2020 school year to complete their exchange in the 2021/2022 school year.   

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 exchanges enable students to have new experiences and spend time exchanging knowledge and culture. 

We are in direct contact with those schools that received a grant already to confirm their intentions to continue with their international project, or to cancel.  Projects must comply with international travel legislation and carefully consider current British Council and DfE guidance. Please be aware that this advice will be updated in line with changes in the current context.

Benefits of international school exchanges

'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 visit 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 visit to Spain.

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

Which schools can apply?

Only schools who received a grant under the International School Exchanges programme in 2019/20 are eligible to continue with their visit during the 2021/22 school year. 

Unfortunately, we cannot accept new applications. 

What are the rules about pupil premium?

  • Not all pupils who will travel must be eligible for pupil premium. The grants awarded 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 would not normally have the opportunity to travel.

What kinds of visits are eligible?

  • Schools must follow COVID-19 travel and health and safety guidance for the UK and for the partner country
  • Visits can be to any country 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. Before the pandemic, young people weare encouraged to stay with host families where possible. If the visit is not a homestay, you must ensure a lot of contact with pupils from the partner school - ideally daily - and try to involve their families and others in the local community, if possible
  • Visits should have a curriculum focus 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 which costs are eligible
  • grants cannot be used towards the costs of a tour company for logistical arrangements.

2021-22 Programme Guidance - grant eligibility criteria

  • Schools will be asked to provide information about their updated exchange visit, together with signed confirmation from the head teachers
  • A  document will be available on this page, outline the main criteria for a project to maintain its eligibility, transferring from ISEP 2019-20 to ISEP 2021-22. The first version  should be available here on this webpage in early Autumn 2021.

FAQs for adjusting ISEP 2019-20 project to ISEP 2021-22 criteria

  • Schools and coordinating teachers will have many questions for how to continue with their exchange visit. 
  • A regularly updated FAQ document will be available on this page in early Autumn 2021. It will detail what will be possible to change in relation to your project and how to adjust the grant funding for it.