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Health and safety “killing” off foreign exchange trips

eiffeltowerFewer British students are making foreign exchange visits because fears over health and safety are “killing” them off.

Traditional foreign exchange trips for schoolchildren are dying out because of paranoia over health and safety regulations, according to research by the British Council.

Its study revealed that making exchange visits or staying with pen pals is becoming more the remit of those in private education rather than state schools.

Moreover, it claims the decline is also limiting the number of pupils learning other languages to a high standard, contributing to a national “crisis”.

Figures published earlier showed that just 10,400 students took an A-level exam in French this summer, a 43% drop in just ten years when the number was 18,200.

Now only 39% of secondary schools in Britain organise exchange trips abroad where pupils stay with host families. Among state comprehensives it was 30% compared to 77% in private schools and 82% in state grammar schools.

The British Council, which is now campaigning to bring back exchanges, found that head teachers gave safety concerns as the main reason exchanges were not taking place.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said language skills are important for “a great trading nation like Britain” and urged teachers not to over-interpret health and safety regulations, taking instead a “common sense” approach.

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