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Picture for Kirkinriola Primary School

Global learning in practice: Kirkinriola Primary School

Location: 5 Clougher Road, Ballymena, BT43 6TB


Global Learning Lead Teacher: Emily McCaffery

Join date: March 2016

Date of case study interview: September 2016

Key themes: Global learning in the curriculum, topic work

Kirkinriola Primary School is based in a rural setting on the edge of Ballymena. Despite its relatively small class sizes, the school is always bustling with activity and positive energy. There are colourful displays in the classrooms and corridors, while outside lies an extensive garden which offers excellent opportunities for outdoors learning.

In early 2016, Kirkinriola joined the Global Learning Programme (GLP). The school became involved as a way to open up children’s understanding of their world. A great focus on the environment had already been fostered within the school, which is proud to be part of the Forest School initiative. However, there was a desire to widen this focus further into looking at other global issues.

Acting Principal Emily McCaffery attended GLP training and now leads on global learning within the school. She found the training excellent, particularly enjoying the interactive elements which allowed teachers to experience global learning activities just as pupils would. Immediately, Emily took what she had learned and brought it back to the school community.

Cascading to staff, pupils and parents

A meeting was held with staff to discuss the GLP. Emily explained the programme was not solely about ethical issues, but one of its core messages was about unpacking where you are from, challenging your own perspective of the world, and looking at things from other people’s viewpoints. To illustrate how we all see things differently, she drew on an activity from one of the training days and gave the staff different pairs of glasses to wear! She also brought a rucksack to make staff think about what baggage someone else might be carrying with them. There was very positive feedback from the session.

Pupils were introduced to the programme through participating in The International Trade Game, which Emily herself had played during the GLP training. The Trade Game teaches about global wealth inequality. Pupils are divided into small groups and have to work together to cut out paper shapes and then ‘trade’ these for profit. However, not everyone is given equal resources at the start of the game. This can cause a lot of frustration. Inevitably, some pupils did have a strong reaction to the game so Emily used this as a way to talk to them about injustice in the real world and how people can respond to it by taking positive action and fighting for the causes which matter to them.

Parents were engaged through the school’s Fairtrade promotion work, which Emily sees as heavily interlinked with its involvement in the GLP.  Sustainable development and fairness are both core global learning concepts. Parents were encouraged to purchase a Real Easter Egg; a special egg made of Fairtrade chocolate. Emily saw this as a good opportunity to involve parents since most already buy Easter eggs, but this way it would have a benefit to the global community.

Lesson planning

Global learning has become a core part of teaching at the school. Kirkinriola’s first point of lesson planning is topic webs. A global learning box has been added to each one, enabling global learning to be better integrated into pre-existing topics, which classes are already set to explore. It is not treated as a separate subject.

Pupils studied the Olympics in the run up to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Emily found it very easy to build global learning into this topic. For example, pupils were encouraged to think about what factors might contribute to some countries gaining more medals than others.

Their big topic for the start of the 2016/17 school year is invaders and settlers. When we spoke with Emily, pupils were still being introduced to the main concepts. However, this will develop into pupils learning about refugees and what it is like for them to have to move from their homes and settle into a new country. There will be a particularly strong focus on equality and conveying to pupils that someone arriving from a different country is no different from them.

Kirkinriola’s new School Development Plan will be written during 2016/17. Global learning will be incorporated into this, which should further consolidate the school’s already fantastic progress on the programme.

“The GLP is not anything new. It is not something we have never taught before. But it is a fresh perspective on key messages about fairness and equality, which relate not just to your school, not just to your local community, but globally as well. At its core, it is about widening your perspective and widening your children’s perspective as well.”

- Acting Principal & Global Learning Lead Teacher Emily McCaffery


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