British Council International Education Week 2013


International Education Week (IEW) is an opportunity to promote the importance of building an international dimension into the education of young people in the UK at primary and secondary levels. We know that familiarity with other cultures and modern foreign languages skills are an essential part of preparing young people to work in the increasingly globalised economy.


The British Council is an authoritative voice on language       learning, through our English teaching around the world, and we bring an intercultural dimension to foreign language learning in the UK through sharing our experiences, providing research and data and bringing in examples of international best practice.



This year IEW supported a major policy shift in UK schools. From September 2014 primary schools in England will be required to teach a foreign language to pupils at Key Stage 2 (upper primary). There is also increasing policy support in other UK countries for language learning at primary level.


International Education Week formed the starting point of a longer-term campaign to promote language learning in UK schools, with events taking place throughout the academic year. 



  • To promote the importance of an international dimension to primary and secondary education in the UK
  • To promote the learning of modern foreign languages as a part of this
  • To increase participation in the British Council-run programmes that help to create an international dimension in schools (for example, Connecting Classrooms, Comenius and Language Assistants)


The audiences for IEW were split into three categories: The general public (including parents and young people); senior practitioners and policymakers; and classroom teachers in schools. What we offered for each group is set out below.

Main activities

For the general public, parents and young people

  • Media and social media campaigns on the importance of learning a foreign language, to include testimonies by high profile ‘language ambassadors’.
  • ‘Grass roots’ advocacy and engagement aimed at parents – for example, a campaign to encourage them to count with their children in another language.

For senior practitioners and policy makers

  • A prominent conference for organisations and individuals involved in promoting and implementing modern foreign language learning in UK schools. Comparative research and overseas speakers will add an international dimension.
  • Publication of a research report into language learning in the UK and internationally.
  • A stakeholder reception in London to promote language learning, with similar events in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For teachers in schools and sixth-form colleges

  • Provision of classroom materials to help schools celebrate languages
  • Provision of support materials on how to boost language learning in schools – especially relevant to English schools in the run-up to the 2014 curriculum changes.
  • ‘Grass roots’ advocacy in schools, including events to promote language learning (for example, ‘French days’) run by language assistants, and advocacy by alumni to persuade children / teachers of the value of learning languages.

Get involved

International Education Week may be over for this year, but you can still involve your school community in celebrating international learning. Get started with some of these ideas.