A group of headteachers and advisors came together to develop ideas about a global learning response to the Primary Curriculum Review.

We are hoping for change

Our schools are responding to a feeling that they have been wanting to change things for a long time.  Talk of the world class or 21st century curriculum, and activity around those ideas, have fed into this.

This is above all a debate about the needs of children.  Global issues are a real part of their lives, they need time and space to talk about them.  Whether or not teachers like it, children are being affected by the world in an immediate way.  The real issue is not whether global learning matters, but how the curriculum catches up with this reality.

We need both an entitlement to a particular body of knowledge and the time to explore children’s interests when something comes up.  Many children will not have these opportunities unless we offer them at school.  This is therefore also an argument about equality of opportunity.

Will a new curriculum enable or constrain creativity?  There is a risk that creative work already going on in schools will now have to be squeezed into new boxes.

We need time to rethink how we do things. To explore how and when it will be useful to use particular approaches.  For example, learning basic phonics or number bonds may require one style of teaching, while discussing big global ideas would require a different one.

We note that there is much to learn from early years practice about bringing the world into the classroom, and a need for creativity about how we apply those things into KS1 and 2.

Some of the questions that we would like to ask at this stage. 

  • How can keep the best of the previous National Curriculum [such as clear references to ‘the global’ within subjects, as well as within the aims and values of the curriculum], while moving it away from something which can appear oblique, optional and peripheral?

  • How can we resolve the tension between a new curriculum which is explicit  about expectations for what children will need to understand and know at a particular age, but is also led by teachers’ creativity and is specific to the needs of the school?  [For example, do we need a clear agreement about what some of the key skills are, but freedom about how learners apply them?]
  • What will the assessment profile be for this new curriculum?  How will that fit with existing models [SATS, APP], and – if so - is there a risk that they will constrain its potential?
  • How will the time be created to plan and prepare for curriculum change, to develop resources and build teacher confidence around working in new ways?

We also see some opportunities

Communication and languages

The review places a high value on speaking and listening skills.  Global learning offers a powerful context for developing skills of discussion in different contexts, drawing on different perspectives, speaking to a variety of audiences and using different vocabularies [eg the language of global issues].

We also see potential for linking modern foreign language teaching to issues.

Applying learning

As part of the learning process, there is a need for children to use and apply core skills.  Should we be looking at an entitlement in each two year period for children to engage in an extended cross curricular project, which is expected and planned, and involves using and applying core skills?

Thinking about transition

The continuation of aspects of the Foundation Stage is a good idea, but at the KS2-3 transition this model seems to work less well.  Perhaps we should be thinking about  KS2-3 transition units with a global learning focus [eg understanding an issue in the local community, including in its global context]?


A new curriculum creates a need for teachers and schools to learn from each other, offer support and be creative together.  This is something which Tide~ has always argued for and sought to provide [eg by providing time and space for teachers to develop teaching ideas and materials which meet new curriculum needs].