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What do Quality Mark schools do to exemplify and support quality global learning?

‘A high-quality geography education should inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives’

The Geography National Curriculum, England 2013.

The GA collected examples of global learning from schools involved in the Primary and Secondary Quality Marks. Schools completing an application for a Quality Mark are provided with guidance on global learning and where it might be exemplified within their portfolio.

This exemplification of global learning is taken from schools which applied for the Primary and Secondary Geography Quality Marks between 2014 and 2016. Global learning is integral to the Quality Mark frameworks. This selection contains examples of work and supporting documentation, organised in six themes with suggestions for practice which link closely to the GLP curriculum framework. The notes sections of the slides show school details and help interpret their inclusion as good practice. We are particularly grateful to those schools which are represented in this exemplification.


A. Developing understanding of other countries, including locational knowledge and mapwork

  • Making mapwork a regular part of the work throughout the school – perhaps testing using websites and map games
  • Having prominent displays of maps, which are then used and brought into the learning
  • Providing maps of the countries studied at different scales, not just a map of the world with the country highlighted
  • Using maps around the school, for example in secondary schools, not just in geography classrooms but also used in history, mathematics etc.
  • Using Google Earth™ or GIS software in a way which develops global knowledge and awareness of the main groups of countries – changing scales, adding layers and setting work to explore these locations
  • Developing literacy activities which include other locations e.g. using storybooks about distant places with younger pupils
  • Comparisons with pupils’ own daily lives are important, and some schools make good use of staff and parents’ experiences as advocates for this work
  • Many schools have some sort of school linking: this is especially useful when connected to the geography curriculum, and helpful in exploring the nature of stereotypes which might exist (on both sides). Opportunities include those through the British Council and getting involved in an ERASMUS funded project.

B. Understanding of ideas about globalisation and interdependence

  • Regular work focused on global connections, including through work on personal geographies and the items pupils own and wear
  • Connections made between globalisation, interdependence and a range of topics – e.g. migration statistics to/from the UK, cultural globalisation etc.
  • Looking for nuances in pupils’ work to show they appreciated this was not a bi-polar ‘good or bad’ choice
  • Using global or national days to pin work on and explore existing resources, e.g. Send my Friend to School, World Refugee Day, World Aids Day – view a full list of these on the Global Dimension Calendar, and remember to think critically
  • Promoting ideas that we are connected to other places for our mutual benefit, for example, some schools make use of KIVA and other microloan services to fund small projects and follow them up – real actions having a real impact on real people, with the expectation that the money is repaid – a helping hand rather than charity.

C. Developing thinking about poverty and development

  • Poverty being discussed in a range of ways which avoids the idea that ‘we’ are rich and ‘they’ are poor, including outside speakers, to help think about complex ideas.
  • Connecting schools:  face to face or Skype conversations on young people’s lives and the school and its facilities.
  • Explore notions of rich and poor, using technological tools and websites used to show statistics in innovative ways e.g. Gapminder and the work of Hans Rosling, or similar experts.
  • Making use of national events such as Fairtrade Fortnight as opportunities to discuss the nature of such schemes; trying to develop beyond a charitable approach, e.g. to explore the relationships between producers and consumers and notions of justice.
  • Using of simple stories, devices and data such as ‘If the world were 100 people’.

D. Developing understanding of sustainability

  • Developing a full appreciation of the nature of sustainability, and the difficulty in achieving it,  perhaps in a fairly critical way
  • Topics such as sustainable fishing are a good way to explore this area, and a number of organisations produce resources which help support extended enquiry into the topic. Choose the topic carefully when exploring sustainability e.g. the local area and cities also work well as a focus.

E. Using enquiry and critical thinking to explore global issues

  • Embedding enquiry and critical thinking in the work, going beyond the titling of units, or some notion of answering straightforward questions; for example drawing in global connections beyond those that were anticipated.

A Full Presentation

We have also included a full presentation from Ryde Junior School, which has some interesting approaches to developing Global Learning, presented in a particularly engaging way.

Summary and evaluation by Alan Parkinson


What do Quality Mark schools do to exemplify and support quality global learning? 2016 update.

Between 2014 and 2016 the Global Learning Programme continued to connect with new schools, and develop new approaches and materials for teachers. The Geography Quality Mark moderation team found further interesting submissions in the portfolios of evidence submitted by schools.

The quality guidance above remains important; in particular we are looking for something beyond work which introduces students to new locations, and provides them with a small amount of ‘information’ about them.

These materials are representative of the changes that have taken place in the way schools are approaching global learning. They include:

  • Making comparisons with pupils’ own daily lives, including in some schools using staff and parents’ experiences as advocates for this work. There is also a conceptual link to reinforce, between the idea of ‘place’ and the study of ‘places’.
  • A significant event during this period was the replacement of the MDGs the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals; some schools had adapted to this change in approach.
  • Many Quality Mark Schools had worked to integrate some of the principles of the Global Learning Programme into their practice, especially supporting students in thinking through more nuanced arguments when considering notions of development and global inequality.
  • The work of Hans Rosling and others has informed the debate on whether terms such as ‘first world’ and ‘third world’, even ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ are appropriate anymore, and new examination specifications have updated their terminology too.
  • An increasing proportion of school communities consider themselves to be global, particularly where students speak many languages other than English as their first language, or are drawn from many countries. This doesn’t guarantee that the geography is necessarily strong: the way that the experiences of the students are promoted as part of the geography curriculum is the point at which the global learning starts to emerge. The growing number of international schools and those overseas applying for the Quality Mark is good to see.


Here are some brief vignettes capturing global activities in some of the Quality Mark schools in 2014-16:

Vignette 1: The British School of Guangzhou

Fittingly, more international schools than ever applied for the SGQM in 2016.

The British School of Guangzhou has 1000 pupils and is situated in what is (for the time being at least) China’s 3rd largest city.

Students are taken to the local Honda Car Factory as part of their studies, to explore the nature of globalisation within that important industry, sitting as it does within the Pearl River Delta, as does the school. This gives them a privileged front seat view of some of the most dramatic urban change in the world currently.

The school attracts students from all over the world, and therefore “Our students’ acceptance of other cultures and societies is excellent.”A Global Classroom has been developed, where global learning is celebrated, and technology was used to make a drone film, showing Global AIDS statistics using students as a living infographic.

There was also a China in a Box project, and the young adult book (and recent film) ‘Trash’ has been used as a way to explore the lives of people who rely for their livelihoods on other people’s waste, and the growth of shanty town.


Vignette 2: Ysgol Bro Dinefur, Carmarthenshire, Wales

Ysgol Bro Dinefur is a bilingual school of 1200 students in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. The school used social media to connect with scientists from the British Antarctic Survey working at the UK’s Rothera base in Antarctica , when teaching about those landscapes and environments. They were able to answer questions posed by students who started to understand the wider implications of working in this sort of environment, and the technology that is used to enable it.


Vignette 3: The Royal High School, Bath

The Royal High School, Bath is an Independent School with around 500 pupils, including some from overseas.

The school has been very active in GIS: maps, GIS and spatial thinking are at the heart of the department’s teaching, giving students a particularly global outlook.

For example in 2014, the RHSB led a World Record attempt when over 11 000 students from around the world took part in a mapping task. The data was collected using a new GeoForm which was developed by ESRI. In 2016, the school developed a MapOff GIS event, centred around people’s views on Global Warming.

The students are also involved in an Amazon decision-making activity, including team-building, which enabled them to see the importance of collaboration in solving large problems.


Vignette 4: King Alfred School, Somerset and St Charles Lwanga School, Kampala

King Alfred School, Somerset and St Charles Lwanga School, Kampala developed links through a visiting teacher (to Uganda) and headteacher (to the UK). They used this collaborative approach to enhance curriculum provision, raise attainment through high engagement and aspiration and develop established and new networks in both Uganda and the UK.

This work included Year 8 pupils in the UK and Ugandan street children talking to each other, and creating new resources for the new AQA GCSE Geography course, so making effective use of technology and sharing practice with the wider geographical community.

King Alfred School presented this work as part of its application for Quality Mark Centre of Excellence in global learning

Centre of Excellence presentation (PDF)

King Alfred Kampala Scheme of Learning (PDF)

Summary and evaluation by Alan Parkinson

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