In the classroom

There’s a global dimension to every aspect of our lives. The air we breathe, the food we eat and the clothes we wear link us to people, environments and economies all over the world. The decisions we make on a daily basis have a global impact. The classroom is a great place to start exploring these issues.

Image of school sign

Here are some suggestions for exploring the global dimension in the classroom, and as a whole school. For more ideas, check out our range of case studies, or our curriculum info page, or organisations who can provide a school speaker.

Explore local, topical issues from a global perspective

The global is not far away but right here. There is a global dimension to local issues and exploring this can provide an illuminating insight into topics such as food, climate, migration and equality. It also provides an accessible way in to understanding complex global issues.

  • Use any increased flexibility offered in the curriculum to respond to issues as they arise.
  • Provide space for teachers to discuss and reflect on these issues.
  • Pupils get a lot of their information about global issues from the media so help them to interrogate this information critically and consider a range of perspectives.

Look for the global dimension in how your school operates

Enhancing the global dimension to all aspects of school life can engage and motivate both teachers and pupils.

  • Involve the whole school community in considering the implications of living in a complex, interdependent world for the vision and aims of the school.
  • Write the global dimension into the school development plan and designate a specific member of staff to develop the global dimension across the school.
  • Consider the unique contributions of each subject to understanding the global dimension.
  • Celebrate small steps along the way to reinforce the importance you place on these issues.
  • Create visual displays of pupils’ global work and think about how all of your school environment can support global thinking.

Consider what impact your school’s buying has on other countries

Purchasing choices made by schools can make a real difference. Debating fairly traded products, ethical banking, green energy, local sourcing, waste disposal options and other management decisions provides a useful way for staff and children to reflect on global issues, and how the school can help address them.

  • Use these decisions as a way to involve parents, governors and the wider community in the work you are doing.
  • Pupils can play an important role in these debates which can be used to create learning opportunities. In this way, pupils can make connections between what happens in the classroom and the management decisions they see acted out around them.

Make time for professional development and reflection

It takes time to develop a global perspective, a view on the world that makes connections between diverse issues, people and places. Furthermore, with all its complexities, the global dimension demands an approach to teaching that accepts that the teacher cannot have all the answers and this takes confidence and skill.

  • Plan CPD for all staff on active, participative methodologies and teaching controversial issues.
  • Keep the focus on developing a global perspective so that it starts to feel natural to see the global dimension in all learning and aspects of school life.
  • Provide spaces and opportunities for reflective and critical thinking for the whole school community including governors.
  • Support teachers to consider their own perceptions and biases.

Promote optimism and action

We all feel disempowered by doom and gloom and and this can leave us feeling unable to make a difference. Greater understanding, especially when it is accompanied by action, can help to turn this situation around. The global dimension helps pupils understand global issues and explore ways of addressing them within and beyond school. This more often leads to feelings of optimism and a wish to contribute to positive change in the local/global community.

The Primary Review Community Soundings reported on a deep pessimism about the world in which today’s children are growing up but emphasised that pessimism turned to hope when people “felt they had the power to act” and that “where schools had started engaging children with global and local realities as aspects of their education they were notably more upbeat”.

These suggestions have been adapted from Top Tips to develop the global dimension in schools (PDF).