UK classroom

Apply today for funding for international exchanges

Apply for grants to take your secondary school pupils on international school exchanges and visits, through a new £2.5 million Department for Education programme in partnership with the British Council.

The programme is aimed at young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Please note that priority will be given to applications that show the school, or the exchange group of students, have significant levels of disadvantage (eg Pupil Premium, Opportunity Area, Index of Multiple Deprivation, Additional Needs etc).

Which schools can apply?

  • The programme is for schools 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 can not apply.

What are the rules about pupil premium?

Not all the pupils travelling need to be eligible for pupil premium. But you need to make your activity as inclusive as possible, to allow access for the most disadvantaged.

If the grant you apply for won’t cover all costs, you can charge the families of participating students for the balance - but pupils on pupil premium should not be asked to pay.

What kinds of trips are eligible?

  • Trips can be to any country of the world. 
  • Your trip must be centred around a visit to a partner school. 
  • 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 if possible.
  • Visits do not need to focus on language learning, although we welcome those that do.

What will the grant cover?

  • Grants can cover travel for pupils and accompanying teachers, accommodation and subsistence, local transport and administration costs.
  • Your grant can cover a trip you are already planning, so long as it meets the criteria.

How can I find a partner school?

To find a partner school in Europe, try eTwinning

Town twinning arrangements might also provide potential school links. Or check if teachers, parents or pupils have links with other schools. 

The British Council will be hosting a series of seminars to help schools meet a partner school and develop a link.  Further details will be available soon.

Our partner schools usually covers the costs in their country and we cover the costs in the UK – how will that work?

This funding is to cover the visit abroad for the UK pupils and it will be paid to the school in England. Partner schools will need to make arrangements to transfer funds reciprocally or reach an agreement that both schools are happy with.

Can we pay for dinner for our partners?

If the group will be eating together, it is acceptable for reasonable costs for some joint meals to be covered.

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

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

  • British Council School Exchange Grants 2019 Application (Microsoft Word 59KB)
  • British Council School Exchange Grants 2019 FAQ (Microsoft Word 43KB)
  • British Council School Exchange Grants 2019 Guidelines (Microsoft Word 51KB)
  • External links