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Internationalism: deep dive case studies from across the UK

Internationalism: deep dive case studies from across the UK

After 12 months of intensive research we have just finished a fascinating study for the British Council exploring the opportunities, barriers, and impacts of international exchange and intercultural education in the UK.

Nine case studies covering diverse rural and urban geographies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, provide a nuanced analysis of the organisations involved in delivering international opportunities locally, as well as the demographic and policy contexts that they are working in. What is striking is the diversity of approaches each illustration reveals, and the far-reaching impact that small, grass roots engagement can achieve with the right level of political and community support. Many of the programmes illustrated here become sources of pride, as well as a means for individual and community job creation, well-being, and prosperity.

The collective wisdom drawn from practitioners working on the front line of delivery of international programmes, offers a clear mandate for the importance of international education, both for young people and professionals. It also provides rich insights into the conditions that make internationalism particularly effective, as well as a window into innovative and creative ways to engage young people in global projects and issues.

Recommendations drawn from each case study area, represent a call for action to help support and extend opportunities for internationalism across the UK:

Networking and cross sectoral working
• Encourage and support the sharing of best-practice in internationalism within and across sectors. 

• Develop closer partnership between schools, colleges and universities to support internationalism for young people at all stages in their education. 

• Enable organisations to work together rather than compete for international funding and support. 

• Support the development of local networks for internationalism so that people and organisations can work together to make stronger partnerships, align their aims and ambitions and share their resources. 

• Work together to convey ‘the hearts and minds’ messages of why internationalisation is so important. 

Understanding and sharing impact
• Share examples of good practice through the evaluation of international programmes. 

• Develop a regional focus on the impact of internationalism so it is possible to see the specific benefits to young people in different parts of the UK. 

• Focus on the potential of internationalism to address economic development in different regions, and as a way to address crucial skills gaps at a strategic level. 

• Focus on the value and impact of internationalism at home as well as international connections abroad
• Support the development of local networks for internationalism so that people and organisations can work together to make stronger partnerships, align their aims and ambitions and share their resources.

Influencing change in the curriculum
• Continued support to embed languages and international perspectives in primary and secondary education. 

• Demonstrate how internationalism closely links with the national curriculum in all the UK nations, across different subject areas. 

• Challenge the narrow view of achievement in schools to include more holistic and broad-ranging skills and opportunities that come from internationalism, foreign languages and the creative arts.

Language teaching and learning
• Promote the importance of internationalism and language competency for work opportunities. 

• Celebrate and recognise the benefits of diversity in bilingualism in schools and communities. 

• Lobby departments of education across the four nations of the UK to support language mentoring schemes between universities and schools. 

• Develop research and awareness of the impact of language learning and literacy on attainment in English and other subject areas. 

• Provide resources to support university outreach, and to provide PGCE and CPD training for language teachers. 

Focusing on underprivileged groups
• Continue to focus on providing opportunities for young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, 

• Provide flexibility in funding schemes so that programmes can be tailored specifically to the needs of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds 

• Provide short mobility options for students and staff. 

• Support the use of the Pupil Premium to extend international opportunities to economically disadvantaged children. 

• Provide funding and support for internationalism in youth work. 

Facilitating links abroad 

• Help to open up new relationships in different regions outside of Europe. 

• Provide support to enable links between creative organisations with similar values in different countries. 

• Continue to engage with European countries as a key part of Global Britain. 

• Provide funding to support initial connections between schools and international partners, and for longer standing partnerships. 

• Help organisations to take successful international programmes abroad - promote them via international links and offices. 

Tailoring support to smaller organisations
• Offer longer-term funding for projects over a 3 year period (rather than 1 year). 

• Ensure that funding bodies have user- friendly application processes in place, and that there is space to provide evidence of the qualitative benefits alongside quantitative data. 

• Provide workshops and sessions to support funding applications. 

• Provide feedback on funding applications. 

• Provide help to small organisations to get visas and work permits, and in navigating new rules for travel and work in Europe. 

Supporting the arts
• Work across funding agencies to inject international elements in other, UK focused, arts programmes. 

• Provide more funding for artists to benefit from international opportunities. 

• Give a smaller number of awards to more artists so they can showcase their work internationally. 

• Put those on the coalface of the creative industry on funding panels. 

Providing accessible resources and information
• Make sure that internationalism guides and resources are available to teachers and students via the British Council website.
• Curate the British Council website so that it is easier to navigate and be clear about the separation between Secondary and Primary education resources.
• Continue to support schools through the Connected Classrooms for Global Learning or a similar programme.

These recommendations align with the Internationalism Alliance pledge to offer every child and young person in the UK, whatever their background or interests, the opportunity to learn from - and connect with - other people in the UK and around the world. They also offer a set of practical actions to support the British Council and Alliance members’ commitment to champion international and inter-cultural experiences for children and young people, advocate for increased opportunities for international learning and build resources to support high-quality international experiences at home and abroad.

The full report is available to download for free at the link below. 

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