A CAMPAIGN has been launched to bring back school exchange trips to encourage more children to study languages and gain international experience.

The campaign, which is being launched by the British Council, follow a survey which showed fewer than half of schools currently run the traditional overseas trips.

Schools which had previously run exchange trips said safety concerns and issues with taking students out of school during term-time were the main reasons for no longer doing so.

A separate survey carried out by the British Council among university language students found two thirds said an international exchange influenced their decision to do a language degree.

Lucy Young, head of education at the British Council Scotland, said: "A school exchange is an incredible experience for young people and can influence their confidence, outlook and career choices."

As part of the campaign, the British Council has produced a set of free resources for schools to help them organise exchange trips and deal with issues including child protection and risk assessments.

Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, which represents secondary headteachers, said: "Many of our members have benefited significantly over these years from the support offered by the British Council in making global connections for their schools and also for the many personal programmes that have been available for professional development.

"As an association we are delighted to support British Council Scotland in this latest campaign to raise awareness and to encourage greater involvement of schools with their international exchange programme.

"The important contribution of these exchanges to the Curriculum for Excellence programme in schools is widely recognised and perhaps even more essential to maintain and develop in these challenging times."

YouGov surveyed 450 secondary schools across the UK - 25 in Scotland- on behalf of the British Council to inform the findings above.

The survey comes at a time when language learning in Scottish schools is under pressure with falling numbers studying the subjects at Higher level. The number of foreign language assistants working in Scotland has also been falling.