The Impact of Global Learning
“A fantastic programme that has been extremely well received by staff and pupils.” (Primary School Teacher)
Across a three year period running from 2015 to 2017, Ulster University carried out research to investigate the impact of the Global Learning Programme (GLP) on schools in Northern Ireland. The research included an examination of the programme's effect on the capacity of teachers to deliver global learning. It also explored the extent to which the GLP has helped pupils achieve global learning outcomes. Professor Linda Clarke led the research, supported by Dr Lesley Abbott. We’d like to thank them both for their efforts over the last three years.
The research took the form of a longitudinal study, incorporating a mixed methodology. Evidence was gathered through two main avenues:
1. In-depth interviews: Pupils and teachers were interviewed from six GLP schools in Northern Ireland. Starting from when they were either in P5 or Year 8, pupils were interviewed at the end of three successive school years to ascertain the extent to which they had achieved global learning outcomes. The teachers were interviewed annually as well. They discussed the delivery of global learning within their schools and the overall impact of the GLP.
2. Online surveys: These were completed by teachers and senior leaders from schools involved in the first two GLP cohorts. To allow the impact of the GLP on classroom practice to be monitored over time, participants filled out an initial survey in 2015, followed by two additional questionnaires in 2016 and 2017.
The impact of the GLP on schools
The research showed schools making progress in almost every area related to global learning across the three years. However, in most schools there was still scope and a desire to embed global learning further. This may be an indication that the Global Learning Programme needs to have a longer lifespan in order to allow for a deeper and broader development of its work.
“The pupils learn about global learning concepts in class and then cascade their learning to the rest of the school in the form of an assembly.” (Primary School)
“(As) a result of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the LLW and the Dance Departments worked collaboratively on a piece of original dance … so the learning was connected through what they were having in a dance class to what they were studying in their LLW core curriculum at Key Stage 3.” (Post-Primary School)
“[We have a] working group to monitor implementation and progress...[and an] action plan to ensure targets are set and achieved...this feeds into school development plan.” (Primary School)
"[The Lead Teacher] carried out a sharing good practice meeting with all staff and outlined the outcomes of the GLP audit and where we are moving toward." (Special School)
“We put in our newsletter and website any news about global issues we’re working on and our topic work. We keep parents updated on our link with our partner school. We also include a different UN Convention on the Rights of the Child article each month in our newsletter.” (Primary School)
“The school is currently working towards renewing the [Eco-Schools] Green Flag Award, and has identified global perspectives as the main topic.” (Post-primary School)
The impact of the GLP on teachers
“I feel I’m still learning and need the support of all the staff to keep global learning in the forefront of our minds and use all opportunities to develop it throughout the whole school”. (Primary School)
“Becoming Lead Teacher for GLP has had a profound impact on me as a person. I now look at the world differently and try to be a more thoughtful citizen. I get a lot of pleasure making everyone in the school know about the issues GLP raises and feel a sense of responsibility now to continue to get the message across.” (Special School)
“By helping others identify global learning opportunities, researching resources and by completing the numerous self-evaluations, I feel that I have the confidence to embed global learning within my subject and guide others”. (Post-Primary School)
The impact of the GLP on pupils
“…Children could now recognise the links between their topics and the GL concepts...Pupils see the relevance of global issues related to the topics covered.” (Primary School)
“Children are more aware of the causes of poverty and how they as individuals can help.” (Primary School)
“[Global learning] has allowed students to show respect for others, integrity, curiosity, tolerance, concern for others and self-belief that they can have an impact on the lives of others on a local and global scale.” (Post-Primary School)
“Certainly, [there has been an impact on] critical thinking and … a greater knowledge and understanding of inequality, because of our partner school in India and how they’re keeping us informed on the whole agenda of inequality for young women.” (Post-Primary School)
“[Global learning] made the young people much more questioning about some of the news stories they’ve been discussing.” (Post-Primary School)
Note: All of the above quotes are drawn directly from the research.
Key recommendations from the research
There is evidence of a clear need for future CPD provision to extend and consolidate the work of the Global Learning Programme.
Teachers need ongoing guidance and support to develop actions in partnership with pupils that reflect the latter’s increasingly nuanced understanding of global issues resulting from the GLP's input.
Schools should, where possible, consider the role of Global Learning Lead Teacher as a shared one.
The extension of the GLP in Northern Ireland might usefully support broadening it to other curricular areas and phases with accredited/certificated course provision, including professional cooperation between teachers, locally, nationally and internationally.
Such progress as outlined above would only be possible within a fully engaged, supportive, high-level policy environment. It will be very difficult, perhaps impossible, for such progress to be made without support at national (Department for International Development) and local (Department of Education) government levels.
Specifically, support from the Department for International Development might encompass funding to sustain the expert support for schools (both face-to-face and via this website) and the ongoing collection of research evidence.