The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – Why?

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – Why?

Jan 13, 2020

David Reddy, Headteacher at George Romney Junior School, has successfully brought the SDGs into his school. Here he shares why he did this.

Our school is located in ‘the ancient capital of Furness’ and has been the location for children’s story books, is the birthplace of a famous portrait painter and is known locally for its controversial by-pass and equally controversial wildlife park! Despite these many attributes (and more), at our school we had recognised a fundamental need to look beyond Cumbria, beyond the UK and share a wider vision of the world with our children.

We knew from specially planned events such as International Week – a time when the whole school comes off timetable completely to study other countries from around the world – that our children loved learning about the culture, nature and landscapes of other countries; but we wanted to go deeper and feel we were looking at some of the global issues that affected different countries in different ways.

As the headteacher, I was very aware of the huge amount of time, effort and care staff were already dedicating to planning learning and didn’t want ‘global’ learning to be ‘something else’ to cram in. Fortunately, many staff embraced the opportunities that weaving the SDGs through the curriculum would present us with. 

As a junior school with mixed-age classes, we had been adapting and modifying the curriculum fairly consistently since 2012 and this became another opportunity to make meaningful learning opportunities link with existing themes/aspects of the curriculum. Staff were genuinely surprised with how the aims of the goals were relevant to so much of our existing curriculum plan. 

After a considerable focus at a whole school level using assemblies to really embed the goals and the vocabulary associated with them, children became enthusiastic and engaged with the idea of studying key concepts through the SDGs. 

The most exciting times for myself are when children come into school with ideas or questions that show a real care or consideration for people or nature beyond their immediate environment. Seeing them begin to make links between Greta Thunberg on TV and some of the SDGs is really rewarding. Using learning approaches such as P4C, dialogic teaching or even ‘critical thinking’ (remember that!) really enhances the challenges and discussions our children have. Their developing signs of advocacy are enough to even put a smile on the face of an old cynic!

(Header photo credit: George Romney Junior School)