British Council

British Council

The UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

There is a wide range of opportunities your school can avail of with the British Council.

Schools Online

Schools Online provides you with the opportunity to develop the international dimension in your school. It offers training and can help you set up partnerships for teachers.

Through Schools Online you can find information on:

  • Planning exchange programmes
  • Hosting a language assistant
  • International School Awards
  • ETwinning Awards
  • Professional Development for teachers
  • Funding applications



Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport and offers a wide range of opportunities for pupils, students and teachers to boost skills and employability while focusing on these 4 key areas. 

Here you can read testimonies from St. Mary's Primary School, Mullaghbawn, about their 'Global Citizens' project, and from the Irish-medium secondary school, Coláiste Feirste, Belfast, which is taking part in a pioneering CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning) project. The school, having secured a Key Action 1 grant, has sent four teachers to study a brand new CLIL course in both Gran Canaria and Berlin.

Schools that are interested in progressing additional language skills should consider applying for Erasmus+ funding. To date several schools in Northern Ireland have made successful applications for projects based on increasing the profile of languages in their schools.

For more information about funding- Schools     Higher Education



ETwinning allows you to find partners to collaborate online with teachers and pupils from over 40 countries. For more information click here.




This is a global education programme, offering schools partnerships with other schools, CPD opportunities for teachers as well as International School Awards.

School Partnerships are an excellent way of gaining another cultural dimension for students and teachers, potentially leading to meaningful linguistic, socio-cultural exchanges inside and outside the classroom. For more information click here to visit the Connecting Classrooms Professional Learning website.

The British Council runs Professional Development workshops as well as online courses to support teachers and staff in developing a global outlook in their school. Courses and workshops mainly focus on consolidating global citizenship, taking intercultural practice further, developing English language skills, and using ICT for International Exchange. For more information click here.

International School Awards provide schools with a complete framework to their international work with their partner school. The awards have 3 levels which guide schools from the beginning of their international journey right up to embedding it into almost every aspect of the school life. For more information, click here.

For more information about the Connecting Classrooms programme, click here.



Every year the British Council runs a very successful programme to allocate Language Assistants to primary and secondary schools throughout the UK. This programme offers schools the opportunity to broaden pupils' understanding of the world, improve their language skills and increase their cultural awareness

On average 60 Language Assistants work each year in schools across Northern Ireland, meaning pupils and teachers can benefit from another cultural and linguistic dimension to their teaching and learning. Assistants working here come from as far away as China, Chile and Mexico and can be native speakers of French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese (Mandarin), Russian and Irish. The Language Assistants are usually undergraduates, aged between 20 and 30 years old.

For more information on the Language Assistants programme click here.

Watch this video about some of the benefits of employing an assistant at your primary school.




To facilitate and support exchange programmes with partner schools in France, the Lefèvre Trust makes grants available annually to all secondary schools, 6th forms and FE colleges who have an existing partnership with a French institution. The British Council can provide help and support to find partner schools in France here.

Benefits of exchange visits include raised levels of oral and aural confidence in real-life situations, increased proficiency at GCSE and beyond, enriched partnerships between schools as well as opportunities for new cross-curricular projects for the whole school.


News from Northern Ireland-

St. Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh & Lycée Privé Jean XXIII - Notre Histoire!

St. Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh, received Lefèvre Trust funding in 2010/2011 and again in 2014/2015 to accommodate exchange trips to Paris and Reims in the Champagne area of France.

A group of French students from Lycée Privé Jean XXIII, Reims, spent eight days with host families in the Armagh area. As part of the exchange programme of events, they attended lessons at St Patrick’s Grammar School and engaged in a wealth of cultural activities organised by Mr Jim Herron, Vice-Principal, and Miss Lisa McMahon, Head of Modern Languages, at the Armagh school.

Among the activities organised for the visiting students and staff was a day of tuition and participation in Gaelic football, handball, hurling and road bowls, a local sport. They visited Stormont, the Peace Wall and the Titanic Exhibition on an educational trip to Belfast as well as taking a visit to the magnificent Giant’s Causeway during their stay. On the return visit to France, St. Patrick’s students in turn were given coaching in ice-hockey and pétanque. Visits to the local Champagne cellar as well as France’s oldest biscuit factory, Fossier were on the itinerary for the Armagh students. The group also travelled to Saint Denis where they enjoyed a highly entertaining rugby match between Stade Français and Clermont Auvergne in the magnificent Stade de France.

This exchange has been running since 2007 with over 60 local families participating from this wonderful cultural activity. The generous funding from the Lefèvre Trust has meant that many educational activities could be built into the students’ visits to Armagh and France and has given great affirmation and encouragement to both students and teachers involved.  

The following link will give you an idea of some of the many activities the exchange students have been up to.Lycée Privé Jean XXIII     


The British Council provides teachers with opportunities to enhance their teaching methods by going on an international study visit. These visits are only offered to teachers in schools in Northern Ireland only and are funded by the Department of Education. You can also find out about the China Bridge programme- which funds visits to China to develop your school's links with China.

For more information click here.



Mandarin- Chinese is currently one of the most important languages in the world and HSBC and the British Council run this competition to raise the profile of the language amongst school-goers.

This speaking competition aims to increase students' motivation and oral confidence as well whilst encouraging students to learn more about Chinese culture.

For more information click here.

This video will give you a flavour of the competition.