The Global Classroom
The NASUWT held a professional conference for teachers and education professionals to come together to examine the role global learning should play in preparing students to be successful learners and informed citizens. Watch the highlights video below.
Globalisation is having huge impact on all our lives, but too often teachers are not being supported effectively to bring the lessons of the wider world into the classroom, delegates attending the one-day conference agreed.
A lack of time, knowledge and assistance from managers and local authorities is hampering the efforts of many teachers to introduce elements of global learning to their pupils, despite a clear awareness from teachers of the critical importance of teaching students about concepts such as global citizenship, diversity and sustainable development.
At a time when technological developments and ecological challenges are bringing the world closer together, schools are failing their pupils if they fail to provide a global perspective, Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary, told delegates, saying:
“Whatever education is for it is surely meant to be a preparation for life, whether that is within our own communities, going out into the world of work or as preparation for civic life.
“Teachers are shaping tomorrow’s citizens who will be our global leaders and these leaders must be outward facing and able to make connections with people with other languages than their own.”
The current economic crisis is having a world-wide effect, Mr Roach stated, threatening the fight against climate change and global poverty to name just two effects. It is even more critical then, he argued, that schools ensure they incorporate global learning into the curriculum.
“Each of us is being called on to pay a high price to deal with the deficit in the nation’s finances” he said.
“We need to consider the legacy we are leaving very carefully because global learning should be about learning lessons from history as much as anything else. Our actions today will have consequences which will reverberate around the world for generations.”
Mr Roach called for more support and resources for teachers to promote global learning in schools, pointing to research which shows children exposed to such teaching are more open minded and accepting of difference and that teachers working in schools where global learning is part of the curriculum are more motivated to remain in their jobs.
“We need leadership which enables us to create an education system which imparts the values of equality, community cohesion and social justice which are central to effective global citizenship” he concluded.
The important contribution global learning can make to tackling racism and discrimination of all forms was highlighted by a number of speakers during the day, with Doug Bourn from the Institute of Education explaining that such teaching should help students to make sense of themselves and their communities, as much as learning about the wider world.
“It is not about learning about somewhere ‘out there’” he stated. “It is about making sense of our own locality and the fluidity and diversity of our own communities and helping young people to recognise how that in turn fits into a wider picture.”
The event, which was held in London, also had a strongly practical focus, with experts sharing their experiences of developing global learning within education.
The Refugee Council has been at the forefront of much of this work, developing a number of programmes to break down many of barriers facing refugees and asylum seekers accessing education in the UK. The Council was a Global Classroom conference partner.
Jonathan Ellis, spoke to delegates about three initiatives. Smile, which provides support and mentoring for refugee pupils entering British schools, the Inclusive Secondary School project which helps refugee families to engage with their children’s schools and Refugees into Teaching, which offers guidance and assistance to help refugee teachers get jobs in British schools.
Mr Ellis highlighted the discrimination often faced by refugee teachers, many of whom are highly qualified and experienced but whom often struggle to find jobs or are commonly employed below their skill level.
In recognition of this issue, the NASUWT has launched the first website dedicated to providing information and guidance specifically for overseas trained teachers working in the UK, which was promoted to delegates on the day.
“Gaining refugee status is just the start of the story and teaching is an area where refugees can make a real difference to this country. We need to do more to unlock the untapped potential of teachers coming into this country” Mr Ellis said.
“Their skills and experiences are so valuable, both to the profession and to broadening the learning experience for our young people.”
Personal perspectives were also provided by Dr Tony Sewell who explained more about his Creating Champions project which aims to support the professional development of teachers by enabling colleagues from Jamaica to come to the UK to study the teaching of maths and science. The aim is to improve the teaching of these subjects in Jamaica, while also raising the status of the teaching profession abroad. However, he emphasised that as with all effective global learning, it is vitally important that such exchanges are not seen as a one way process, but an opportunity to learn from one another.
Creating mutual understanding is also at the heart of work being undertaken by Norfolk Education and Action for Development (NEAD) and Sandy Betlem, Programme Co-ordinator, explained more to delegates about the project which was established to reflect the growing numbers of migrants arriving in the area.
Volunteers from different communities visit schools to talk about their backgrounds and experiences and schools are encouraged to work collaboratively to offer global learning experiences to pupils and professional training to teachers on mainstreaming global issues through the curriculum.
“People can have their globally specific identities but there is also a point where you have to come together and recognise that there is more in common than what separates us. That is the root of education” Dr Sewell said.
Delegates were also able to attend a range of practical workshops exploring issues such as the use of religious education to promote global learning and the practicalities of setting up and maintaining school linking projects.
A marketplace with an array of resources and information for teachers on global learning was also available, enabling teachers to discuss and make contact with a number of organisations able to offer teachers practical support in planning and creating learning experiences.