Subject guidance

A wide range of advice, guidance and subject exemplification has been developed by the Global Learning Programme (GLP) together with key subject associations and bodies to support global learning at Key Stages 2 and 3. This covers the following subject areas:

Global Dimension Website resources

The Global Dimension website hosts a comprehensive database of resources, searchable by:

Additional resources developed for the Global Learning Programme (GLP) are also available, including a range of excellent resources developed by teachers involved with the progamme. These resources support the teaching of:

*Details of criteria for resources to qualify for a GLP badge.

Subject associations

Find out about the subject associations and bodies that have contributed to the development of the curriculum framework, and other support, within the Global Learning Programme (GLP):

Global learning and citizenship

Global learning brings together education for citizenship, international perspectives and themes around macro-economic and sustainable development and recognises the common outcomes and principles of all three. In doing so, global learning will help young people make sense of the world they live in and help them understand their role in a globally-interdependent world.

Citizenship enables young people to become informed about issues of rights and responsibilities, democracy and justice. It also equips them with skills of critical evaluation and encourages the expression of attitudes and beliefs to respond to the challenges we face as global citizens in a constructive and positive manner. Young people are citizens of today, not citizens in waiting. Citizenship is about developing in learners the ability to take up their place in society as responsible, successful, effective and confident citizens both now and in the future and addresses the exercising of rights and responsibilities within communities at local, national and global levels.

With regard to global learning, citizenship can include the development of informed decision making, and the ability to take thoughtful and responsible action, locally and globally. Learners will engage with aspects relating to human rights, sustainable development, peace and conflict resolution, social equality and the appreciation of diversity. Large topics such as international political structures and bodies, social justice, global economies, poverty, and climate change, sit alongside more specific themes that link the learner to the issue through a personal, local or community relationship, for example: refugees, child soldiers, food air miles or energy sourcing.

Above all, global learning and citizenship is strongest, most effective and most exciting when the learner asks, ‘So what does this mean to me and how can I affect change?’ In this respect, learner voice is a crucial element of education for citizenship and global learning; indeed, citizenship provides the ideal framework to give children and young people the opportunity to exercise their rights and responsibilities in a global learning context.

Resources from the GLP are available to give information and examples of how Citizenship can support global learning.

Global learning and English

English is a subject concerned with communication as well as content. In English lessons, pupils learn a range of language and learning skills and study a wide range of literature, much of which may be relevant to global learning.

English teaches a critical approach to language. Young people need to learn the language of discourse, criticism, argument and persuasion and modes of language that foster change and development in the world. Pupils need to also understand and appreciate how language can be used to excuse, obfuscate divert and hoodwink, for language and power are always connected.

English is a cosmopolitan language. Spoken by far more people outside these shores than in the British Isles, English is a magpie language, borrowing and being enriched throughout its history as it comes into contact with new cultures and in turn being adapted and developed where it is spoken beyond the UK. And whilst the learning of an additional language is a valuable tool, the ubiquitous nature of English enables pupils to communicate with their peers around the world.

English has a cosmopolitan literature. This means that the literature presented to pupils should reflect that global dimension, present different ways of viewing and interrogating their world, and avoid parochialism.

English is a creative subject in both spoken and written form. Creative and expressive modes of language tell the world a great deal about the social, economic and political conditions under which people live. Art and literature is a response – sometimes the most powerful response possible – to illiberal governments and unjust conditions. Narrative, satire, theatre and poetry all have long heritages in both expressing and communicating the realities of injustice to an outside world.

English encourages compassion: through a range of activities from reading and drama to exchanges with pupils in other countries, pupils enlarge their understanding of others. Empathy and imagination are key aspects of literature.

English has a comprehensive approach to the development of pupils’ language, understanding and feeling. This takes place through a wide range of activities from discussion and role play to personal writing and immersion in literature.

Resources from the GLP are available to give information and examples of how English can support global learning.

Global learning and geography

Geography helps young people to make sense of the world that they live in and to be better informed about the choices they face as global citizens. Geography provides the knowledge and skills needed to ask and answer pertinent global learning questions such as: where is this place, and what is it like? How is it changing, and why? How is it connected to other places? Who gets what, where, when and why? And what’s it got to do with me?

Many aspects of global learning are at the heart of what it means to be a geographically educated young person in the 21st century, including providing a range of challenging contexts for developing geographical thought. Ofsted guidance recognises this link between global learning and high standards in geography.

Geography knowledge and understanding

Through geography, pupils learn where places are, what they are like, how and why they are changing. Pupils learn about how places, people and environments interact, and how everyday lives are both reliant on, and affected by, people and places far away. Geography helps pupils understand what important concepts and ideas such as developing countries and development, globalisation, poverty and development, interdependence and sustainable development mean.

Through geography, pupils learn about uneven development at different scales, and learn that inequalities exist within as well as between other countries, the former sometimes being as pronounced as patterns of inequality at the global scale, according to the UN. Such critical thinking also helps combat stereotypical views about countries.

Geography builds knowledge by drawing together different sets of information so that pupils can understand for example, how climate, location, technology and food production are linked, or how globalisation impacts on people and culture as well as on the environment and the economy.

Geography enquiry and skills

Global learning is well supported by skills used in geography, which is underpinned by an enquiry and critical thinking approach. Learners develop research, communication and interpretation skills to help them ask questions, gather data and evaluate diverse information. They develop empathy, for example to better reflect on what is similar and different in others’ lives. The geography-specific skills of mapping, the wider skill set of graphicacy, and fieldwork are also essential for learners to locate and better understand places, environments, and patterns and processes: all vital skills for global learning.

Geography values and attitudes

Geography supports the development of informed views and values about and towards people, places and environments. Through geography, pupils explore not just ‘core’ knowledge about the world but also encounter a range of information about people, places and cultures. Avoiding the ‘single story’ helps to challenge stereotypical thinking and develops understanding of diversity.

More support and information can be found in the introduction to geography and global learning.

Detailed support for assessment and progression and exemplification of global learning in global learning is available from the GA.

There is much support for geography teachers available through the GLP. We recommend that you also draw on programmes and additional support, guidance and resources from the Geographical Association  and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) respectively.

Through the GLP the:

  • Geographical Association has provided specific support for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 – including work to explore how global learning can support transition – as well as online support materials, CPD and the development of global learning through the respective primary and secondary geography quality marks
  • Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) has provided online case studies, interviews and interactives to support subject knowledge about development for Key Stage 3, alongside CPD and the provision of geography Ambassador visits with a specific focus on development issues.

Resources from the GLP are available to give information and examples of how geography can support global learning.

Global learning and history

The National Curriculum for history includes, in its aims: ‘How Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world and Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world; the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies.’

This fits neatly with one of the key aims of global learning, which is: ‘Knowledge of developing countries, their economies, histories and human geography’.

This may include knowledge of:

  • the historic civilisations of Africa, Asia and South America and their links with the wider world (historic globalisation)
  • historic encounters between Africa, Asia and South America, and Europewhich led to conquest, imperialism, colonisation and empire. This includes how economic and social connections between Europe and Africa, Asia and South America shaped the exploitation of natural resources, trade (including the slave trade), political and social relationships, and the resistance and challenges to colonial rule
  • decolonisation and independence.

Therefore, much of the history curriculum provides a clear context for the current debate on poverty, globalisation and inter-relationships between the countries of the world, and helps pupils understand these issues. Work on the Industrial Revolution and Victorian poverty can provide parallels with countries such as China, India and Brazil that are growing rapidly economically, and understanding the issues faced by the governments and people of those countries. Many of the topics we study as a matter of course, and which may be part of the study of your local history, can help pupils understand and be involved in global learning.

For example, Cromford Mill in Derbyshire may be studied in many classrooms as the site of the world’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill, which was built in 1771 by Sir Richard Arkwright. However, the mill is also a historic reminder of Britain’s link with the global trading system during the 18th and 19th centuries – through which raw cotton was imported into Britain from its overseas colonies; enslaved people from Africa were transported and sold to become a labour force to pick the cotton; profits from slavery were invested in mills and transport; and finished cotton goods were exported. In this, and other ways, 18th century Britain increased its wealthy by being at the heart of a global trading system.

Resources from the GLP are available to give information and examples of how history can support global learning.

Global learning and Mathematics

There are many opportunities to help young people understand about international development issues through mathematics and statistics. Using global issues can help enliven teaching and learning, and help pupils to make connections to relevant and topical issues.

The new National Curriculum (primary and secondary) published in September 2013 notes that, ‘They [pupils] should… understand the cycle of collecting, presenting and analysing data.’

Making sense of international development has a lot to do with making sense of data. So the topic gives enormous opportunities for pupils to engage their statistical and mathematical skills using real data – and using real data can make mathematics and statistics exciting.

The possibilities for exploration and analysis are enormous: there are datasets on poverty; inequality; mortality; economic growth rates; health; education; water; nutrition and so on – the list is endless and the only limit is your own creativity! Topics can be used to make connections to what is also being discussed in other lessons.

Resources from the GLP are available to give information and examples of how mathematics can support global learning.

Global learning and RE

Engaging with different religions and worldviews, considering identity and diversity, looking at sources of wisdom such as religious texts, and asking challenging questions are all at the heart of Religious Education (RE) and can contribute to global learning in schools.

RE provides opportunities for pupils to pursue enquiries into the impact of religious teaching on the actions of believers from different religions and worldviews, for example through studying the work of individuals, communities and charitable organisations. Important skills in RE include the ability to evaluate critically, to question and learn from other people’s points of view, and to agree and disagree respectfully, for example through undertaking dialogue with people from other religions, cultures and places, and identifying similarities, differences and questions from the ideas discussed.

The non-statutory National Curriculum Framework for RE  (2013) produced by the Religious Education Council (REC) shows the links between RE and global learning in its aims, for example:

The curriculum for RE aims to ensure that all pupils:

  1. know about and understand a range of religions and worldviews, so that they can identify, investigate and respond to questions posed, and responses offered by some of the sources of wisdom found in religions and worldviews
  2. express ideas and insights about the nature, significance and impact of religions and worldviews, so that they can express with increasing discernment their personal reflections and critical responses to questions and teachings about identity, diversity, meaning and value, including ethical issues
  3. gain and deploy the skills needed to engage seriously with religions and worldviews, so that they can enquire into what enables different individuals and communities to live together respectfully for the wellbeing of all.

Resources from the GLP are available to give information and examples of how religious education can support global learning.

Global learning and science

All over the world, children learn science and scientists do research. The fruits of this endeavour are evident everywhere, from the food we eat to the gadgets we rely on.

Since science will continue to underpin our lives, and as the pace of change accelerates, children will need a sound understanding of the global nature of science. As adults, some will contribute directly to the development of scientific knowledge. Others may apply scientific knowledge in making decisions about its applications. All will benefit from the labours of scientists – past, present, and future.

There are so many ways in which science is global. We share common systems, such as the oceans and atmosphere. We share common challenges, too. How will science help to meet the challenge of providing nutritious food for all, and tackle the causes and effects of disease? What contributions will science make in meeting the ever-increasing demand for raw materials as populations increase and expectations rise? We must prepare the adults of tomorrow to participate in tackling these challenges head-on.

Science has its own international language of symbols, measurements and equations. Worldwide, scientists collaborate on research projects and build on the findings of others. The research that scientists choose to undertake – and that governments and commercial organisations choose to fund – is shaped by a huge variety of cultures and experiences. Our pupils will need to be equipped to make decisions, both personal and political, in this milieu.

Finally, there are countless examples from history of the global nature of science. Scientists, many hundreds of years ago in China and India, were making amazing discoveries. Whilst Europe was in the Dark Ages, science flourished in the Arab world. To truly represent science, we must take heed of these early pioneers of our subject.

Resources from the GLP are available to give information and examples of how science can support global learning.

Links to other subjects

Modern Foreign Languages

For more information on how global learning is linked to modern foreign languages, download an introduction to foreign languages and global learning.


For more information on how global learning is linked to arts subjects, download:

Key Stage 2 case studies:

Key Stage 3 case studies: