Millbank Primary School

Growing Together To Be Our Best

* British Council

On Thursday 8th March 10-10:30am. we were very lucky to have Rebecca Matthews the Director of British Council Wales come into our classroom. She kindly answered some of our questions to help us understand the work of the British Council, not just here in Cardiff but around the world.

We do a lot of global citizenship work from Global Education to our links with the AMAF school in Kenya. As a UNESCO Associated School we promote the values of UNESCO, including human rights, peace, tolerance, sustainable development and cultural diversity. We believe that this will better prepare young people for the challenges of an increasingly complex and interdependent world. The British Council works hard to promote our culture abroad, as well as working with the Welsh Assembly government to encourage schools to get engaged in global projects.

We also hope that meeting people like Rebecca will inspire the children to work extra hard.


Q1 Can you please tell us a little about yourself, and the British Council?

Hello class 4. I am Rebecca Matthews and my job is the Director of the British Council here in Wales. The British Council was set up over 75 years ago to build trust and engagement between the UK and people all around the world. We do this mainly through promoting excellence in Education, the Arts, sports and society as well as teaching English.

The British Council works in 110 countries and territories across the world, with 7,400 employees. In Wales we work hard to ensure that all Welsh Children like you engage in global education.

I started work with the British Council in 1997. I worked as the Arts Manager in Sydney. Then I left the BC and went to work for the Australia Council and then worked at Sydney Opera House. In 2008 I came back to the BC as the director of the British Council in Australia.

WE then had a little chat about our links with the AMAF school

Chloe -“I like linking with Kenya because we learn lots of things from them
Dion -“We make lots of new friends.”
Holly -“We have learnt some Swahili.” The class then gave an impromptu performance and sang the ‘Jambo’ song for Rebecca.

Q2. How does the British Council get it’s money?

The British Council is funded by a grant from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Their job is to promote British interests around the world). We also raise a lot of money for our programmes ourselves through exams and teaching people to speak English.

Q3. We are a Rights Respecting School- does the British Council promote Children’s Rights?

Yes we work to ensure in all our programmes that Children’s Rights are respected.

Q4. Does the British Council work with the Fairtrade Organisation or use Fairtrade goods in your offices?

Yes we like Fairtrade and we would always try to use Fairtrade products. We have an Environmental Management System (EMS) a bit like your Eco-code at our offices in UK. This is to help us to manage and monitor energy consumption, waste, procurement and travel so we can be as environmentally friendly as possible. We use a similar system in all of our offices around the world to reduce our impact on the environment. We have also set up a Climate Change programme to help people work together to tackle climate change.

Q5. Does the British Council work with charities?

Yes in certain countries overseas on some of our programmes we will work with charities. The British Council is registered as a charity too.

Q6. Why do you work for the British Council?

I studied French and German at university and I wanted to travel and ensure I used my languages in my job. So the BC was perfect for me. I also believe bringing people together to share and understand cultures is a great way for people to better understand each other and get along and that’s what we do at the BC.

Q7. What will you be doing in New York?

In New York I will be looking after the cultural programme in the city and on the East Coast and I’ll also be working on developing global partnerships with organisations like the United Nations.


Q8. We are a Get Set School, how is the British Council linked to the Olympics?

There are two main areas. The First is the Cultural Olympiad starting on the 21st June it is ‘a spectacular, 12 week, UK wide celebration of the world's best music, theatre, dance, design, visual arts, literature, film and fashion’. And we will show case the best of British including Welsh culture. 
The second area is sport itself and the power of sport particularly in Africa and Asia to unite people. 

Q9 Do you get to choose which country you work in?

The British Council allows you to nominate a number of countries you’re interested in working in. Sometimes you get your first choice and sometimes not.

Q10 If you get sent abroad somewhere where you do not speak the language can you do your job as well?

It’s great if you can speak lots of different languages. The British Council gives you language training when you go to a country where they do not speak English.

Q12 It is International Women’s Day today. How does the British Council promote equality?

After I leave here I am going to a lecture by Tori James (who in 2007 became the youngest British women to climb Mount Everest). This is part of the Women’s Day celebrations at the Pierhead Building. This event focuses on women in public service and the British Council have supported this, as equality for women is very important for all of us.

James “All children have Rights.” (Not sure why he said it then, but good on him anyway!)

Q13 Where were you born?

I was born in England in Newbury Berkshire.

Q14 Which new Country would you like the British Council to open an office in to make the biggest difference to our world- North Korea, Iraq?

We have lots of offices around the world as you know, in countries where the people there want to work with us. We have just opened an office in South Sudan (on Kenya’s Northern Border). It is very exciting and also challenging

Q15 What is your favourite Country?

That is difficult as I love travelling, I think China is very interesting, I liked Australia a great deal too. I have always loved France and Denmark, my partner and son are Danish.

Q15 The funding for Global Partnerships scheme which enabled the exchange visits with Kenya have been stopped why? [Asked by Mrs Brown class teacher.]

We are working on a new schools offer and very soon there will be more information on what is happening with new programmes and funding.

The class said a big thank to Rebecca for taking the time from her very busy schedule to come and answer our questions.