Thinking about linking

31st March 2006 at 01:00
Want to widen the horizons at your school? Gillian Temple asks the questions you need to think about before you go global and, opposite, David Rosenberg reviews the best resources



This short but invaluable guide for schools provides precise definitions of the central principles and concepts of global citizenship and aims to inspire schools to translate these into a daily reality for their students.

Its centrepiece is a detailed and clearly presented curriculum for global citizenship, which runs from Foundation stage to 16-19 and is divided into knowledge and understanding, skills, and values and attitudes.

This framework provides teachers with an excellent basis on which to assemble detailed schemes of work, that meet the needs of their school. A school that has begun to implement this framework will certainly be well placed to benefit from establishing an international link.


Those looking for a one-stop resource on global citizenship will find most of what they want in this handbook. It explains in simple and effective language precisely what global citizenship is and how to begin to incorporate it into the regular rhythms, routines and practices of your school. It presents a persuasive argument that global understanding and concern for social justice should be right at the heart of education. The clarity of its presentation remains consistent throughout, whether it is setting out activities for the classroom or whole-school assemblies or explaining how to develop the global citizenship potential of rather dry QCA geography units.

It devotes surprisingly little space to school linking: it refers to "great advantages and some disadvantages" and cautions schools to proceed with care. But a school that has internalised the ethos of this handbook will surely do just that.


A few months after my own school's link with Uganda was established we held an ambitious Africa week with a series of events every day. It enabled us to locate and understand our linked school within the wider context of African history and geography. The week was as exhausting as it was successful, but we felt like pioneers operating by instinct and without guidance.

This clearly set out booklet presents practical examples and tips, which draw on schools' actual experiences, for ensuring that weeks like this are both purposeful and manageable.

It encourages schools to plan "global focus" weeks around either a country, a theme (such as fair trade) or arts and literature. In addition it provides clear guidance on how to begin exploring global citizenship within your school and make it central to the whole-school ethos.

A QUICK GUIDE TO NORTH-SOUTH SCHOOL LINKS. Leeds Development Education Centre. DFID pound;4.25

This 12-page guide will be particularly useful to schools that have already been convinced of the general benefits of linking and now feel ready to embark on a North-South link.

It recommends a careful process of questioning to establish the purpose and remit of the link you will set up and gives good tips on how to make it sustainable, by putting the emphasis on partnership agreements, planning and the absolute necessity of gaining whole school support and participation.

It provides a useful summary of areas of the curriculum, through which North-South links have been incorporated and the purposes to which schools have put them. For example, schools have explored global environment issues in science, exchanged data in maths, or looked at fair trade in economics.

Primary FoundationKS1

AROUND THE WORLD: (set of 4) Hair; Playtime; Bicycles; Home. Oxfam pound;5.99 each

With an increasing number of infant schools developing global links, it is never too early to start unravelling stereotypes of foreigners and presenting a three-dimensional global education. This is clearly the sentiment underlying this beautiful set of picture books produced for use with the youngest schoolchildren.

Taking up the theme of what we have in common rather than what sets us apart, it introduces children here to children in distant places through a simple text and outstanding photographs. The quality of the photographs makes it easy to identify with their subject.

These books will encourage young children's curiosity about people and places. Adults too feature in the photos in a way that will challenge emergent gender stereotyping. The book on bicycles features Grandma Rose in Malawi cycling to market with her heavy load.


WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY. Save the Children pound;13.15

The theme of commonalities in children's lives globally runs through this thought-provoking DVD. It features six short films set among disadvantaged communities in Asia and Africa, each one based on a particular child's memories of moments of happiness.

Although it is designed for use with five to eight-year-olds, older children would undoubtedly also respond well to it. It touches on the pressures on children's lives including child labour, which might engender unhelpful stereotypes of victimhood among viewers. But it is balanced by the powerful sense of each child's resilience, optimism and determination to be who they are that shines through each film.

A class watching these films would want to know more about the communities in which these children live and other aspects of their lives. They would engender the kind of curiosity about each other's lives that pen pals in linked schools will have a welcome opportunity to explore.


YOUNG CITIZENS. Save the Children pound;17.35

Through developing a successful North-South link, children here in the UK will sharpen their abilities to reflect objectively on their own lives as well as gaining respect for and empathy with their counterparts in other countries.

This excellent resource pack focuses on five children's lives in Asia, Central America and Africa, and here in the UK, where we meet a school councillor named Adam. With essential facts and photographs, it provides detailed support materials for teachers. The pack includes several well-prepared, photocopiable activities, with clear instructions, that are suitable for KS2. Its central theme is participation and the necessity of children articulating and expressing their views. In this way children will get used to describing and evaluating aspects of their own lives and be able to share that story with others.


Schools considering which country to link with often take account of the social demographics of their own school rolls. Many of Britain's urban centres have become global melting pots as this set of profiles of children in Lancashire shows. It demonstrates that children have far more in common than divides them and that is the soundest basis on which to form links.

Yet it also provides a fascinating insight into children's different worlds.

By using a simple and effective tool for profiling children's sense of identity, such as photographs, likes and dislikes, and wishes for the future, it models an activity that would be excellent to use at the start of a global link. As well as providing background information on the children's countries of origin, it also includes a detailed set of teacher's notes for KS2.


READ ABOUT RIGHTS. Action Aid pound;22.50

Schools need to select linking partners carefully so they do not get hamstrung by difficulties of language and communication. Beyond a common spoken language, though, there is now an increasingly shared conceptual language, that of human rights. This cross curricular resource is focused on Yamrot, a 15-year-old girl who lives with her husband and extended family in Wadla in the north of Ethiopia. It provides information, photo-cards and very clear, differentiated lesson plans, organised into four teaching units. Each unit, planned for use in literacy at key stage 3 relates to a different human right (to family, employment, education and health services). The photo-cards are introduced through a helpful guide explaining how to ask meaningful questions of the images. It suggests methods that correspond to the ethos of the pack as a whole, which is to inspire children to ask questions and look themselves for the answers.

POSITIVELY GLOBAL (set of 5). Leeds Development Education Centre pound;28

This series of game-and activity-based resources aims to help secondary students improve their understanding of global issues. It has the merit of being devised by an international partnership of organisations, so it includes contributors from South Africa and Nicaragua.

Focusing on contentious issues such as debt relief, migration and the role of trans-national corporations, this set of resources varies in complexity. They would be very useful to schools that already have a link since they allow an exploration of these issues with partners experiencing them through their everyday lives.

The resources come with a shorter guide, which provides excellent tips for creating successful curriculum-based links.

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