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Crossing borders

Charles Clarke will put the globalisation of school life high on the agenda on Monday - and the Secretary of State for Education couldn't have picked a better moment. This has been a great year for internationalism. The Euro 2004 finals, the Olympics and the Paralympics, all held in Athens, were not only about sport: they brought nations together in a celebration of our common humanity.

So it is particularly appropriate for international week (November 15-19) and this supplement to focus on how learning through sport can open up the world for children, and how the Beijing Olympics, the London 2012 bid, and small-scale events offer pegs on which to focus exciting curriculum work, school links, exchanges and joint cultural activities.

But the United Kingdom will also be taking centre stage in two important global institutions next year when it assumes the presidency of both the G8 group of wealthy nations and the European Union. This will be an opportunity for Britain to take the lead in focusing world attention on achieving the millennium goals of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, creating a sustainable environment and giving every child a primary education.

These issues will be highlighted in a UN report in March, at the G8 in July and in the UN General Assembly in September. The Africa Commission, which was launched by Tony Blair in May, is expected to report back in the spring on how the scourge of poverty can be lifted from that continent.

So the coming months offer a perfect opportunity to focus school activities on encouraging pupils to engage with world issues and play their part as global citizens. As Charles Clarke said: "One can't truly educate young people in this country without the international dimension being a very significant and real part of their learning."

Brendan O'Malley TES international editor

The contents of this magazine are the responsibility of The TES, not of the British Council

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