Schools - Background
Increasingly policymakers recognise the importance of preparing learners for living in a global economy, society and environment. There are useful foundations to build on but more needs to be done to ensure an enabling policy environment for global learning. In addition to growing support from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and its agencies, the Department for International Development (DFID) has been a major supporter of global learning and aims to ensure all pupils learn about development issues at school.
One of the most significant recent changes is that the new secondary curriculum, implemented from September 2008, is aims-led and includes much more global learning, including a global and sustainable development dimension across all subjects.
Below are a number of the policy developments which have contributed to the revised curriculum as well as being significant in their own right. More now needs to be done to support schools to ensure that the global learning aspects of the secondary curriculum are fully realised as well as to ensure that the primary curriculum follows suite.
Since its creation in 1997, the Department for International Development (DFID) has funded initiatives to strengthen global perspectives and knowledge of development issues in schools. It has made commitments to ensuring pupils learn about global and development issues in its 1997 and subsequent White Papers and in the 1999 strategy, Building Support for Development. DFID funds organisations supporting work in schools through its Development Awareness Fund. DFID also supports ‘Enabling effective support for a global dimension in education' (EES). This aims "to build capacity within the UK's education systems so they respond to the challenges of educating young people to understand and help shape the globalising and interdependent world in which they live." Each government region has a different strategy in response to EES. Find out more on our regional support page.
DFID's support has been invaluable for the many NGOs and DECs which have been working for many years on global learning.
Another influence on global learning has been the UK sustainable development strategy, outlined in Securing the Future. It commits all government departments and agencies to producing sustainable development action plans (SDAP). These plans are intended to form a key part of the overall monitoring and review mechanism for ensuring sustainable development policies are delivered across government. Most are fairly focused on environmental management issues but they do also contain educational elements on which the relevant bodies can be held to account. Examples include: DCSF 2008; Ofsted 2008-09; and TDA 2005.
The DCSF Sustainable Schools framework stems from the UK Sustainable Development Strategy. It can provide a way in to global learning for some schools. Some of the documentation and support around sustainable schools can imply that the global dimension is to be narrowly defined as international linking, however, others recognise the value of considering the global dimension to local issues, for example, around food and travel. A useful guidance leaflet is Top Tips to develop the global dimension in schools. The Government wants all schools to be ‘Sustainable Schools' by 2020.
The Every Child Matters outcomes represent an important shift in thinking about the central place of the child in planning work in schools. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is receiving a slightly higher profile from policy makers. Every Child Matters is largely about children's rights although it does not use the language of rights. UNICEF makes the links in a useful table.
The 2000 Race Relations Amendment Act places a duty on schools to promote race equality.
In January 2007, the Department for Education Skills (now DCSF) commissioned review, led by Sir Keith Ajegbo, Diversity and Citizenship Curriculum Review was published. It reflects a global dimension and includes some DEA members' work. The impact of the report can be seen in the revised secondary Citizenship curriculum which includes a strand on ‘Identities and Diversity: Living together in the UK' and in the creation of the new duty to promote Community Cohesion. DCSF has published guidance on the community cohesion duty. DCSF is also supporting Who Do We Think We Are?.
DfES (now DCSF) published their first International Strategy in 2004, and it states: "We live in one world. What we do affects others, and what others do affects us, as never before. To recognise that we are all members of a world community and that we all have responsibilities to each other is not romantic rhetoric, but modern economic and social reality." It has 3 goals:
- Goal 1: Equipping our children, young people and adults for life in a global society and work in a global economy
- Goal 2: Engaging with our international partners to achieve their goals and ours
- Goal 3: Maximising the contribution of our education and training sector and university research to overseas trade and inward investment
Since this time there have been a number of action plans and a further International Strategy will appear shortly. However, the focus for UK schools is very much on international links rather than on the global dimension. For further information on this, see www.teachernet.gov.uk/educationoverview/international/ and http://globalgateway.org/default.aspx?page=624