In the past it has been possible to see global learning as a marginal activity, driven forward by a few enthusiasts. The groundbreaking work of a small but growing number of primary schools is beginning to demonstrate its huge potential as a vehicle for whole school change … and what that might look like. To take this further will require imaginative and courageous leadership at all levels.
In order to lead effectively, and to learn from the action we take, this question will keep coming up: about children’s global learning, teacher capabilities, curriculum development, the whole school [and its two-way relationship with the wider world]. Trying out suitable approaches and developing evaluation toolsis an essential part of the process of taking ideas into action. It helps build confidence for schools to be creative, and also to be accountable. There are some great ideas out there, but we still have a long way to go.
To support and enable change, we will need partnerships and networks of all kinds: time for schools to meet with each other and make links to their communities; opportunities to develop and explore models and tools; channels for sharing and communicating expertise between schools and supporting organisations.
The growing trend towards clustering and federation may help in pooling resources and sharing expertise. One teacher spoke eloquently about her federation of two small schools: “shared staff expertise across the schools made change more possible: together, we are stronger, but we are also more unique."
There are existing networks we can build on, such as those in LAs, those being developed around the Cambridge Primary Review and several subject associations, and of course we have the Tide~ network itself.
The world keeps changing, children change, and so we will need to keep rethinking what and how we teach.
Teaching is, and always will be, a creative, responsive profession. Above all, we respond to the needs of our learners. Can the system itself be as flexible?
Maybe. One of the often overlooked strengths of Sir Jim Rose’s primary curriculum proposals was the idea of a ‘self renewing curriculum’, whose relatively straightforward structure would allow for regular revision and update. The Cambridge Review also emphasized flexibility and adaptability, as well as coherence. It also spoke eloquently of the need to avoid ‘bolt on’ initiatives.
In order to remain creative and responsive, teachers and educators will need time and space together to keep up to date with teaching ideas, resources and approaches. They will also be need some new and imaginative curriculum development opportunities, fresh teacher-and-child-friendly resources which engage with topical and real world issues, courses and networking events where they can share ideas and practice. Mercifully, many of these things already exist.