'Championing the rights of children'

Bring back overseas exchange trips, schools urged

Garry Tue 18 Nov 2014 17:51

Overseas exchange trips, once a rite of passage for teenagers, are now offered by a minority of schools, suggests research.

As late as the 1990s the "vast majority" of pupils were offered the chance to stay with a foreign pen-pal, says the British Council.

Now only 39% of 450 schools surveyed in Britain offer this type of exchange.

Reviving these trips is vital to "tackle a national language crisis", argues the organisation.

It has launched a campaign urging schools to bring back the trips, saying they not only boost language learning but give pupils a taste of life abroad.

Private schools are more than twice as likely to offer international exchanges that include a stay in a pen-pal's home, suggests the council's poll of schools in England, Wales and Scotland.

'Safety concerns'
Some 77% of the private schools that responded said they offered exchanges including a home-stay, compared with 30% of state schools.

Overall about a quarter of the schools (27%) said they ran other sorts of international exchange trips, where students stayed in hotels.

In the schools that did not offer exchanges, some 26% of the staff who responded said they had previously been available.

Read more... (BBC News - 18 November)