Back to Basics: What is global learning?

Back to Basics: What is global learning?

Sep 9, 2019

The opportunities our fast-changing ‘globalised’ world offers young people are enormous. But so too are the challenges. Here at CDEC, we believe that Global Learning is the ‘golden thread’ that equips children with the knowledge, skills and values that they need to embrace the opportunities and challenges that they encounter, and to create the kind of world that they want to live in.

The active, participatory methods of Global Learning help young people to explore the interconnections between people and places around the world. They learn how decisions made by people in other parts of the world affect their lives and therefore how their decisions affect others. 

At CDEC, we give you as teachers the opportunity to develop your skills to weave this golden thread of global citizenship into your school through continuing professional development courses for teachers, projects we run and through support we offer via our membership scheme

Read the case studies below to see how global learning is a way into teaching climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Robert Ferguson Primary School, Carlisle: ‘They [the children] are challenging everything we do as a school…’

As a school heavily invested in teaching the Sustainable Development Goals, global citizenship, empathy and kindness, we are also committed to promoting pupil voice.  We encourage children to have a strong sense of their own agency and capacity to influence the wider community through their actions and attitudes.

The past few months have entailed a ramping up of our focus on the issue of climate change - we held the Cumbria Youth Climate Change Summit in April, and have produced a series of videos highlighting the issue.  Our videos are having a strong impact with some significant pledges on carbon footprint reduction being prompted with their help.

The children are now so engaged that they are challenging everything we do as a school, so we are recycling much more and reducing waste.  They are now demanding that we install food digesters and that we rethink school milk, which currently entails recycling thousands of single use plastic containers. 

Graham Frost, Headteacher


Ashfield Junior School, Workington: ‘All our global work now centers around these [Sustainable Development] Goals’

Our journey to find out about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) began two years ago. The children decided to pick six of the 17 goals and made commitments to how we could help. They chose goals that they felt they could easily take part in and do practical things at school. All our global work now centres around these Goals; so for example we discuss Goals 12, 14 and 15 when considering actions to reduce our waste and recycle more. We talk about Goal 3 when we are looking at our own health and well-being.

All of our actions in school are now explicitly linked to the SDGs and are referenced in our planning and School Development Plan and we have a Global Goals Action Group that drives this forward. We are now trying to spread the word (Goal 17) to get other schools and local organisations to join us.

We are excited to see what we achieve in 2020!

Sue Frost, Headteacher


Silloth Primary School 'We think global, but act local!'

Global Learning has become integral to the life of Silloth Primary School through a whole school commitment to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Each year, the school works together on a chosen ‘global theme’ or ‘themes’, focusing on local solutions to effect change.  We think global, but act local!

Last year we planted 420 saplings to help reduce the flooding of the school field and looked at ways to reduce our carbon footprint as well as learning about carbon off-setting in an attempt to impact on climate change/flooding globally. This year, we have started our ‘Plastic Pollution Solution’ campaign – this is a community wide campaign in an attempt to become the first single-use plastic free town in Cumbria.  The Town Council has passed a resolution supporting our campaign and local business have pledged to support us too.  The project is really gaining momentum.

The children have been assessing food waste at lunch times and will be trying to minimise this by tweaking the school meals menus, in consultation with our cook, and going forward, we are taking part in the ‘Pollinators Project’; developing a wild garden & sensory garden to attract pollinators as part of the ‘Get Cumbria Buzzing’ Project 2019. 

Global Learning is about local action – working locally to reduce our impact on the Earth’s precious resources and priceless eco-systems and the creatures that depend on them for life.  Working together to protect this beautiful world, empowering its future custodians to take responsible action for change.

Rachel Ingrams, Headteacher


Global learning, strategic direction and the 2019 Ofsted Framework

In May, we hosted Alison Hooper from Egerton Primary School in Cheshire to share with us how you can adopt global learning to give you strategic direction and fulfil the new framework released by Ofsted.

She reminded us of the purpose of global learning and how it links our lives with others around the world. It is the golden thread that weaves through the curriculum.

Alison pointed to school values – review them: how are they lived out every day? She advocated a RESPECT culture to build your global connections, and be true to your local connections.

She left us with a challenge: be brave and empower school leaders and teachers. Leadership is vital, particularly for planning and designing your curriculum. Ensure teachers decide together and support them, as global learning requires a profound shift in pedagogical thinking.

Recognise your learners’ own experience, outlook and socio-cultural background needs and respond to it. With such professional freedom, you can make the link between fairness, diversity, rights, sustainability and local, national and global. Finally, she advocated the benefits of P4C to allow you and your pupils to ask and explore uncomfortable questions in a safe space, challenge assumptions and recognise difference.