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SSAT partners with the Global Learning Programme to inspire and support whole-school improvement

Many schools across the country are already using global learning as a way to support wider school development. Sir John Lawes is just one of many now also participating in the Global Learning Programme for England (GLP). The GLP is a groundbreaking new programme that supports the overarching educational aims of pupil engagement, staff development and whole school improvement. With funded CPD*, free guidance and resources, plus support from local peer networks, the GLP helps teachers in primary, secondary and special schools to deliver effective teaching and learning about international development and global issues across the curriculum at Key Stages 2 and 3.

Supporting the school vision
Global learning has contributed strongly to development at Sir John Lawes School, with impacts captured through the school development plan. This has helped to embed a school ethos based on achievement, care and excellence and, in the words of headteacher Claire Robins, it has ‘supported the school to become the kind of place it wants to be, with the kind of pupils it wants to have’.

Sir John Lawes is a mixed comprehensive secondary school in Harpenden, a small town in Hertfordshire. Headteacher Claire sees clear links between the relevance and skills development provided by global learning, and the high academic standards that the school achieves.

Learning about global perspectives helps Sir John Lawes pupils to challenge stereotypes and value difference. This has helped build a culture of respect within the school, raising behaviour standards and improving staff-pupil relationships. Improved confidence also allows pupils to speak up against, for example, bullying. Claire says that this has a positive impact for teachers, as less of their time has to be spent on behaviour management, allowing them to focus on their teaching.

‘Global learning is an intrinsic part of a good education… it equips pupils to be a positive member of society.’
Jonathan Mountstevens, Assistant Head

Whole-school approach to global learning
Through a committed leadership team and an experienced and passionate AST coordinating their whole-school approach to global learning, Sir John Lawes has embraced a ‘bottom up’ approach using a chain reaction of catalysts to make global learning a core part of their vision and ethos.

Building a whole-school approach to global learning has been an organic process, with staff and pupils instinctively including it in their activities, making its place in the school consensual rather than strictly enforced.

‘It’s like ivy that’s grown over everything. It’s integral to everything.’
Claire Robins, Headteacher

Things really began in earnest in 2005 when the school established a strong partnership with Ndeke High School in Zambia, enabling curriculum work in many subject areas and visits between the schools, prompting Sir John Lawes to look at the International School Award (ISA) in 2006.

The structure of the ISA helped to widen activities and led to the creation of International Enrichment Days. Then, prompted by an Ofsted inspection on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in 2006, the school incorporated an ESD and Global Dimension Action Plan in their School Development Plan, using the ISA as a framework. This linked their approaches together and gave more coherence and impetus.

‘It’s not an easy thing to define: it’s not an initiative or a box-ticking exercise, but is about an ethos.’
Jonathan Mountstevens, Assistant Head

Driving global learning across the curriculum
Now also a GLP Expert Centre, Sir John Lawes believes a whole-school approach to global learning is essential, making it an integral part of everything the school does. Helen Cox, the Global Learning Coordinator at Sir John Lawes and an AST in the school’s Global Dimension and Sustainable Development policy, provides the driving force. Planning a strong calendar of activities on an annual basis is the key way that Helen and the SLT structure their approach. This allows the school to have a clear direction and plan, aiding cohesion and allowing the school to engage with parents and the local community. Opportunities for pupils are critical: the Oxfam group and Eco council play a central role in driving activities across the school.

Giving pupils skills for life
Global learning has had a great impact on pupils in the school, with the development of leadership skills being a strong feature. Pupil leaders play a key role speaking up about global issues and feeding into the school ethos, with pupils talking about these opportunities helping to develop their self esteem and voice.

‘They are preparing us so we can have a greater voice and have a greater impact.’
Sir John Lawes pupil

A focus on participatory activities and group work has also brought a strong sense of independence amongst pupils, supporting their personal development and allowing their confidence to grow. Pupils also talk about global learning improving their communication skills, resourcefulness and responsibility.

‘Basic skills, like talking confidently with other people, are going to benefit you in later life. If you excel at that or you can build on that at school, that skill will help you.’
Sir John Lawes pupil

Sir John Lawes’ advice for other schools
Don’t become overwhelmed by the task of introducing global learning. It’s important to remember that impact is greater as a whole school approach so start by looking at what you are doing already and plan small steps with room for growth. Engage passionate members of staff, use external opportunities and make use of structures like ISA or Eco-Schools.

Find out more about the Global Learning Programme.

*The Global Learning Programme is funded by the UK government

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