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Approaches to global education in schools

A short video by Nicole Blum and Fran Hunt on approaches to global education within schools
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In this presentation, we look at the approaches to global education in schools.
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We’re going to talk a bit about the different ways educators might integrate global education into teaching and learning in their school. There are various ways this can be done depending on the context, resources, and support available. If a school is just starting out on a global education journey, they might consider beginning with a few small scale activities, whereas schools that have been doing global education for some time might be looking to embed it on a larger scale. As you watch this presentation, consider the approaches to global education that you already use, and those that might be possible to adopt in the future. Is there any additional support you might need to do this?
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Global education topics can provide a thematic focus to teaching and learning around particular global issues or themes. Potential topics can vary, but generally they have a local and a global dimension, and we can find relevance to our own lives or the world around us. Often, these are very complex issues that need to be packaged in a way that is accessible to learners, whilst also encouraging them to think critically about them. A topic-based approach might see teachers working within or across different subject areas, within the formal as well as informal curriculum.
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Examples of topics: there are numerous possible global education topics, for example, children’s rights, climate change, sustainability, global pandemics, global poverty, and the SDGs. A good place to start is looking through the various thematic areas is the Global Dimension website, which provides links to further information and resources to a range of topics. UNESCO’s Guide to Topics and Learning Objectives also provides some helpful ideas.
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In terms of embedding global education into one or more curriculum areas, often teachers start out by including global education in a subject area they are already teaching, or across subject areas, particularly in primary schools. Some curriculum subject areas lend themselves to global education more readily than others, but there are potential links with global education in all subject areas. There are a range of examples of this available, so we’ve compiled a Padlet which directs you to these.
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A cross-curricular approach might involve teachers collaborating across disciplines in a school, or one teacher incorporating a range of different subject area approaches. Cross-curricular approaches linked to key topics and themes might be used more with younger children, less so as pupils become older and teaching more specialised.
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Global education can be a standalone subject in schools, although this tends to be less common in schools because it is rarely part of the formal curriculum. Schools are more likely to include a short global citizenship course, for example.
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Many schools like to plan their global education activities around key global events and celebrations. For example, the Olympics and religious festivals. They also link activities to thematic days and weeks that highlight important global issues. For example, Refugee Week, World Food Day. It can also open up opportunities for a variety of critical engagements in different thematic areas, and links with other schools both nationally and internationally. An example of a calendar hosting information about these events can be found on the Global Dimension website.
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Often schools include global education within the informal spaces of school outside the formal curriculum. This approach can offer opportunities for pupil voice and active engagement, which might be less available within the formal spaces of school. This might include a global education focus within school clubs and societies, the school council, and/or engagements with NGOs or other outside providers.
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Schools can also adopt a whole school approach, whereby global education is integral to teaching and learning across the whole school. It is then integrated into the school’s vision, planning, and continuing professional development of teachers, rather than a series of isolated interventions or activities. A whole school approach can develop over time, and can be more difficult for teachers to do on their own, so will generally need support from school leadership to be feasible and sustainable.
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For further information on these topics, our Padlet contains numerous resources.

Please watch the presentation above which explores the different ways that educators might integrate global education into teaching and learning in a school.

Once you have watched the presentation, you might also like to visit the course Padlet which includes further resources which might be of interest.

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