Global Learning in Practice: St Patrick's and St Brigid's Primary School
Location: 19 Moyle Road, Ballycastle, BT54 6AN
Global Learning Lead Teacher: Anne-Marie Fitzpatrick
Join date: November 2015
Date of case study interview: January 2017
Key themes: Global learning in the curriculum, shared education
St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School is an inclusive, active and friendly school found right in the centre of Ballycastle. It has a welcoming campus, a committed staff team and more than 360 pupils. The school has been participating in the Global Learning Programme (GLP) for just over a year. Prior to joining the programme, the school had in many ways already embraced education for a fair and sustainable world. It had past experience in establishing international links through Erasmus and Connecting Classrooms. It was (and still is!) an Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) Centre of Excellence, as well as a Rights Respecting School and Fairtrade School, with a strong focus on environmental issues through participation in Eco-Schools.
The school felt that joining the GLP could help to consolidate existing global learning work, bring in new ideas and further increase the focus on global issues. A further positive was the opportunity for the school to earn another award through GLP participation in the form of Global Learning Certificates (which are given to schools upon achieving certain milestones).
Foundation teacher Anne-Marie Fitzpatrick was selected to lead on global learning within the school, attending GLP training in November 2015. Anne-Marie was the perfect choice for the role as she had a strong pre-existing interest in global learning, which developed years ago during a period spent teaching and travelling in Africa.
Anne-Marie’s experience of the GLP training was a positive one. According to her, many training days will say where you should end up, without providing the support to enable you and your school to actually get there. Instead, she found the GLP training was incredibly practical, providing more ideas than Anne-Marie thought could be used in a single school year! She also liked the attention given to Foundation stage as younger pupils can sometimes be over-looked in favour of Key Stage 2 pupils. There were resources and ideas aimed at Foundation level and Foundation teachers (like herself) were given an opportunity to share ideas.
Enhancing existing practice
Back at the school, Anne-Marie decided the best stance to take with other staff in implementing the GLP was to explain that it would not involve adding anything else on (since they were already doing so much!). Rather, it was instead a matter of enhancing and tinkering existing practice. She found her colleagues very receptive to this message.
One of the first things the teaching staff did en masse was to go through their planners and mark anything related to global learning. Working together, they self-evaluated global learning practice across school, with Anne-Marie responsible for collating everything. From this, they then created global learning actions for the school, deciding priorities across different areas. This helped to focus everyone’s minds. Staff were also shown the GLP website by Anne-Marie. In particular, she demonstrated how they could use it as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for global learning, including sourcing resources for use in the classroom.
Anne-Marie stressed that other staff did not have to do something specifically focused on global learning every single week, provided that global learning was covered across the spread of the year, whether through lessons or a specific project. The teachers have been very successful in following this advice.
Global learning in the classroom
Pupils across the school experience global learning in the classroom in different ways. Sometimes a specific topic lends itself very well to global learning. For example, P6 pupils do a two-month topic on fair trade, while the P5 classes cover water, including looking at water worldwide and considering how we can use water responsibly. At Foundation level, teachers try to incorporate global learning in simple ways, such as reading aloud a story from another culture or showing clips from Little Human Planet. Doing so helps to show the children that not everyone is the same as them: they may live in a different climate, wear different clothes or eat different food. Anne-Marie believes this is an important realisation for them to have, even at their young age.
Marrying a shared education project & global learning
Global learning has also been incorporated into the school’s Shared Education Signature Project with Ballycastle Integrated Primary School. The partnership was developed concurrently with St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s growing involvement in the GLP so it was decided merge the two new projects as much as possible. Plus, Anne-Marie recognised that a core element of global learning is the need to spread it outwards so the wider community becomes engaged. The partnership has led to pupils from the schools sharing some great learning experiences together. Activities are planned by Anne-Marie and the Vice Principal of St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s, working with other staff from both schools. Resources are given to the teachers as needed.
Towards the end of the 2015/16 school year, P7 pupils from both schools came together for two full days of global learning at Corrymeela. The first day was based around an international café, where pupils met with volunteers from different countries and got to see ‘artefacts’ from their homelands. The second was packed full of different global learning activities. Pupils engaged in a walking debate, reimagined the whole world as a village of 100 people and played the Biscuit Game, which uses biscuits to demonstrate inequality. At the very end of the day, parents joined their children for the International Trade Game. In this game, ‘countries’ compete to earn money through trade but they do not all start with the same resources, which can lead to tension, sulking and sometimes even instances of theft! The aim is to teach participants about trade justice. After every activity, pupils were given time to reflect, to discuss their feelings and to examine all of the key issues raised. Feedback from pupils, teachers and even the Corrymeela staff was positive. In fact, Anne-Marie rates these two days as her best global learning experience so far!
At the start of the 2016/17school year, the focus of the shared education project shifted onto looking at peace through both a local and international lens. P5, 6 and 7 pupils from the two schools came together over three days and explored the meaning of peace. They created their own individual peace pledges and learned about peace and conflict throughout the last century, from the WW1 truce to the modern conflicts in Syria and Palestine.
Next, shared work on fair trade is planned, as part of which the schools hope to hold a joint coffee morning to which parents will be invited. Anne-Marie hopes this will help St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s become a Level 3 Fairtrade School as a requisite of this is involving the community and parents in your fair trade work. Plans for another global learning day at Corrymeela are also in their early stages. This time, Anne-Marie is aiming to involve even more students.
The school has also found opportunities for pupils to engage in global learning activities outside of the shared education project. In late 2016, P7 pupils took part in Unicef’s OutRight campaign, which is held annually and empowers children to speak out about their rights. They wrote letters in support of child refugees, urging the government to take action. These were hand-delivered to local MP Ian Paisley Jr when he visited the school, which resulted in some coverage in a local paper!
The impact of the GLP
After a full (and busy!) year of participation on the GLP, Anne-Marie can see that the programme is having a positive impact on the school. Experiencing even more global learning has been good for pupils, further strengthening their superb ability to engage with world issues. Pupils at the school quickly become well-used to words like ‘rights’, ‘equality’, ‘discrimination’ and ‘responsibility’, which Anne-Marie believes allows them to take a more in-depth look at things happening around the world and to articulate their own views well.
Global learning has made its way explicitly into the school’s development plan and participating in the GLP has ‘refreshed’ staff. The programme has provided them with the impetus to build on any global learning work previously done as part of other initiatives. It’s also been good for new staff as it has helped to quickly bring them up to speed with the school’s excellent global focus.
“Children find global learning very interesting. The world has become much smaller for them than for previous generations. They know about major world issues, though they may not understand all the ins and outs, and they are aware of the ecological issues facing the world.”
- GLP Lead Teacher Anne-Marie Fitzpatrick