We build relationships between people and institutions in the UK and Iraq through activities to promote a better understanding of the English language and cooperation in Education and the Arts. 

The British Council’s office in Iraq was established in 1952. We closed in 1999 to re-open again in 2003 in Baghdad and in 2008 in Erbil. 


Our focus is to improve the quality of English language teaching. We have recently completed Master trainer training programmes for all English language supervisors in Kurdistan. We have broadcast radio programmes for learning English with audience figures of 70,000 and we are supporting the English Language Teachers Professional Network. 

Our Exams business is growing rapidly, led by strong demand for IELTS. We have tripled the number of candidates taking IELTS with 4,500 tests in 2013-14. We deliver IELTS in Erbil and Baghdad and recently opened a centre in Sulaimaniya. Find out more about the exams we offer in Iraq.


With the Ministries of Education in Baghdad and Erbil, we are working to improve the quality of school education through setting standards for teaching and learning, school self-development, support to school supervisors, and staff development. Educators in 4,300 schools have received training on school leadership and modern pedagogy. 900 Master trainers, 24,000 teachers and 4,100 supervisors are working across Iraq to improve quality in 2,700 schools.

With Ministries of Education, Labour and Social Affairs and the Foundation of Technical Education, we are working to improve the quality of vocational and technical training: a TVET strategy was developed in collaboration with our partner ministries. Occupational standards for five priority sectors were developed and a new curriculum designed and piloted in a network of 15 Centres of Excellence.

With the Ministry of Higher Education, we are working to improve Quality Assurance, Leadership, and Internationalising Higher Education. Find out more information about our work in education.


Since 2009 we have been supporting the inspirational National Youth Orchestra of Iraq (“the bravest orchestra in the world”). In 2012 the orchestra toured the UK and in 2013 it toured France. We have provided training workshops and classes in Erbil in collaboration with the German Friends to prepare for the orchestra’s international performances.

We organise an annual Literature Festival in Erbil. In Arpril 2014, Niniti 3rd International Literature Festival was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Salahaddin University, High Council for Women’s Affairs, ArtRole and Reel Iraq. The festival focussed on women writers. Find out more about our work in the arts.

 Safeguarding global policy statement

The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. 

In our work we meet many children and adults who are potentially at risk for a variety of reasons. We aim to create a safe environment in which no child or adult will experience harm or exploitation during their contact with us.

The British Council is committed to:

  • complying with relevant UK and international laws and standards and ensuring local legal compliance 
  • valuing, respecting and listening to children and adults 
  • minimising and managing situations where abuse could occur, through maintaining strong protection systems and procedures including planning, risk assessment and safeguarding systems
  • sharing safeguarding best practice and information regarding safeguarding concerns with relevant parties, maintaining confidentiality so far as possible and involving children and adults where appropriate 
  • taking action and investigating suspected abuse proportionately and appropriately. 

We require all staff to ensure their behaviour is consistent with this global policy statement. We also require that clients, customers, partners and suppliers are made aware of this global policy statement and operate within it.

We will provide adequate and appropriate resources to implement this global policy statement and will ensure it is communicated and understood.

The British Council will review this global policy statement annually to reflect new legal and regulatory developments and ensure good practice.

This global policy statement was approved by Kate Ewart-Biggs OBE, Interim Chief Executive, in March 2021 and is due for review in March 2022.


A child is defined in the British Council as anyone who has not reached their 18th birthday (UNCRC 1989) irrespective of the age of majority in the country where the child is, or in their home country.

 Adults at risk are defined as any person aged 18 years or over:

  • who identifies themselves as unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves against significant harm, exploitation or neglect; and/or
  • is understood to be at risk, which may be due to frailty, homelessness, mental or physical health problems, learning or physical impairments, and/or is impacted by disasters or conflicts.

Within this policy staff are not included in the adults at risk definition as they are covered under human resources (HR) and other organisational policies.