Lin Reilly, Headteacher, Kings Norton Primary School, Birmingham
This is the story of trying to build a curriculum which enables children to build a world 20 to 30 years from now. Global learning is becoming quite a key thread which runs through our curriculum.
We had already been doing work which uses our locality as a resource, and includes a curriculum enriched with visits and visitors, TIE companies, music, Modern Foreign Languages, Conflict Resolution programmes etc. Our school is part of King’s Norton EAZ, and had been working with QCDA on the development of the proposed new primary curriculum: looking at building a more integrated approach, and we had seen some early successes from that.
However, the curriculum has got bigger and more complex, and from teachers’ point of view quite difficult to manage and make sense of. If teachers are not making sense, they are not necessarily making connections for children, and children are not necessarily applying their learning from one context to another different or new context.
We needed to make it more integrated, to make more sense of it, and in making more links between experiences, win a bit of time and space for teachers to be more creative about what they were doing. More importantly, to allow them to follow where the children were leading in terms of their learning: what they wanted to find out and do; to build their independent skills.
Global learning offers us contexts to bring things together, to take a fresh look, while keeping what is strong in our curriculum. It is about breaking down barriers between curriculum areas, but also about children using and applying their skills in different situations, and how important it is for the learning to be real. For example, many of our children are struggling with writing, and a key thing is to have a reason and a motivation to write, something to be passionate about.
Global learning seems to us to be the way to go forward: a strand within the new curriculum which explores some of those big questions and those big concepts.
We have also identified gaps. We haven’t really explored the issues around international links, and this is offering the groundwork for developing some quality international links, where there is more of a reciprocal partnership than just a charitable aspect.
To do all this, our school needs some knowledge and background, and has sought partnership with Tide~ to bring in expertise on developing global learning and school links. The school brings its own expertise in curriculum development, and how best to move forward in that sphere.
Our initial work has looked at: What is global learning? What is it all about? What are the needs of our children for the future?
Evaluation of this work is becoming very important. We are accountable, we need to know that there’s a positive impact on teachers and children. Our drive to raise standards is still there. We are building and trying out new evaluation tools to support this work, as well as building in time for reflection and self-review: between partners, for teachers. This is all about shared learning.