The days are organised to fit in with the Religious Education Department Curriculum on Wealth and Poverty. The unit on wealth and poverty is part of a short course in Religion and Society that all students are taught.
The RE department takes the lead in providing citizenship education at key stages 3 and 4. Students learn about human rights in Year 9 and racism in Year 10. The Global Citizenship days were designed to draw together learning from all three units of work.
Our school is in a relatively mono-cultural area which has a recent history of quite strong opposition to the arrival of asylum seekers, and migrant workers from Portugal. Our involvement in the Developing Citizenship project is designed to counteract some of the prejudices our pupils encounter.
The main resource needed for the day was outside personnel. A team was put together by NEAD to run workshops on fair trade, refugees, racism and deforestation. Students were able to indicate ahead of time which workshops they wanted to go to. A team of sixth formers were trained and then ran the global trading game – all students experienced this at some point during the day.
The second year we slimmed down the event and just ran the trading game workshops, plus a quiz/introduction session and an activity where students represented the map of the world ‘if the world were made of 100 people’, followed by students’ questions and feedback. This slimmed-down day involved just one outside speaker.
We relied heavily on contacts through NEAD for contacts and workshop ideas in the first year. It was hoped that having made contacts the event could be run from school in the second and subsequent years. A member of the school leadership group and the two RE teachers met with NEAD to plan the event.
On the day, those who would normally teach Year 11 (regardless of subject area) supervised students and acted as guides to visitors.
The opening session included a quiz where students played ‘GloBingo’. The students enjoyed mixing and moving around and were generally well motivated and interested in the answers.
Seminars were in groups of between 15 and 20. They varied greatly in methodology and in their success. Groups of Year 12 students ran the trading game.
The final session included a panel for questions, watching a video about globalisation and student assessments.
In the second year the day was shortened and the optional seminars were missed out. The video was also missed out and became part of a follow up lesson.
Pitfalls, challenges and blockages: first year
- Speakers. The first year we had some difficulty in confirming who was coming and as a result some speakers stood in at the last minute. As contacts were made through an intermediary there was not opportunity to brief speakers adequately about the school and practical arrangements. Some students were put into seminars they had not chosen as speakers had let us down. A seminar on racism was received as too provocative and some students reacted adversely to the whole day as a result.
- Staffing. Some staff did not feel well-informed enough.
- Rooming. There were not enough suitable rooms available for the seminars, and speakers and equipment had to be moved around. Rooms were spread around the school and it made it harder to keep a check on students and speakers. Rooms had to be changed around each time and put back for the next ‘regular’ lesson.
- Attitudes and discipline. There were students who were already antagonistic towards the day. The majority were well-behaved and listened and participated well, but those who did not were not dealt with effectively in all cases. Some of the sixth formers and speakers found the students un-cooperative and teachers did not always step in to enforce the school discipline system. Time together in the school hall was too long and students became restless, especially during watching a video.
Pitfalls, challenges and blockages: second year
- Speakers. In the second year we eliminated the problems of unreliability of speakers by not having them. It was hoped that we would use speakers more selectively throughout the year. However, contacts with voluntary agencies – especially those involved with refugees – was difficult to maintain.
- Staffing. Staff were briefed on paper and in person about their roles and generally enjoyed the day and were very supportive. We needed fewer rooms and made swaps to make sure that we had better resources. A member of staff was off sick and the cover supervisor was informed on the morning of what was involved. However they were called to a meeting that over-ran and told by senior management that the meeting was more important – they turned up half an hour late. By that time I had found a student teacher to stand in for one group and was running this class myself. They were by chance, the group the sixth formers did not turn up for and so they were somewhat put out and some refused to take part once the game was started.
- Rooming. This was still a challenge. Booking rooms has become a slightly grey area. For instance, the drama studio was booked with the head of drama and head of arts faculty and the school office but someone else arranged an extra assembly in there at short notice (the day before) to avoid a clash with school photos the day before. The assembly turned out to be about sixth form options and lasted 20 minutes over time. Year 11 students already in the drama studio were restless before we began and others were waiting outside for too long. The morning programme was therefore shorter and more difficult to pull off. One other room was booked twice by the school office and we had to split it in two so that connexions could talk to students in one half while we ran the trading game in the other! A third room – part of the English department – was booked with the office and English Department but a teacher who used that room turned up to use the room for her preparation and marking and had to be won around before the activity could continue.
- Attitudes and discipline. Senior management were asked to introduce the day and be present when students were in the hall. In the event they were not always available but heads of house were present and were briefed to step in. The awkward group continued to play up when the year met up together for their final session. Some students who are resistant to RE decided that they should not be made to take part and one or two very prejudiced students tried to undermine some parts of the activities. On the whole the behaviour was OK but we would have benefited from greater presence from senior management.
- We intend to hold the day earlier in the term next time. This should mean that there is slightly less restlessness amongst the pupils, this tends to build up as the weeks go by.
- We intend to keep with the shorter programme used in the second year.
- We feel that sensitive subjects, such as refugees and racism need to be tackled by class teachers who have a better knowledge of their students.
- We intend to keep using sixth formers and to try to get this year’s group to help train next year’s and so on, so that they can learn from each other.
- We intend to insist that the day is introduced by a senior member of staff and make sure that they do not arrange other appointments on the day. This means getting the date for next September fixed a.s.a.p.
Student feedback was more positive in the second year. The trading game is well received and we intend to repeat this each year. The geography department now uses a similar exercise in Year 9 which will help prepare the way.
We feel that in the second year most staff enjoyed and appreciated the day and hope to build on this for future collaboration.
The follow up lesson included a tasting session of fair traded goods. We intend to support further initiatives about fair trade and involve the school council in promoting this at future events.
- The day raised the issue of fair trade and students are organising a petition and asking the school council to get behind a move to become a fair trade school. Links with local fair trade activists are increasing.
- The day consolidated learning and increased motivation amongst students submitting course work on the subject of wealth and poverty.
- As more and more teachers take part each year we are in effect training all the staff of the school and they are becoming more supportive about the global citizenship programme and fair trade in particular.
- There is the possibility of a Fair Trade group starting in the sixth form and they are talking of setting up a stall as well as working with the school council on the school becoming a fair trade school. Students have already started to get signatures on a petition to the school council about putting fairly traded snacks in the school vending machine.
The role of NEAD
The support of NEAD has been invaluable. Without outside encouragement and input the day would not have got off the ground. Contacts with other agencies, shared ideas, feedback, training of sixth formers, helping on the day, suggesting resources… was all greatly appreciated.
There is an expectation among staff and students that this is to be part of the regular school programme. Year 11 students who show interest in their coursework are being encouraged to consider helping next year as sixth formers. This can easily roll on to future years.
Staff now have more insight and it is to be hoped that the need to brief and persuade people to take part will diminish. Now that the RE teachers have more experience we feel we will be able to do the training of sixth formers ourselves. We still want to involve a guest speaker each time as this raised the value of the day in the minds of the students.
The global dimension
The Year 11 day is a positive contribution to global citizenship education because it:
- involves students themselves in running groups and taking part in the planning process
- involves staff from across the school. They are educated and motivated to follow up on opportunities for global citizenship within their own areas of responsibility
- fits alongside a related scheme of work on wealth and poverty and builds upon prior learning in years 9 and 10
- gives opportunities for active citizenship from choosing to buy fairly traded products to campaigning
- is sustainable
- employs active learning
- has immediate relevance to course work so that learning is rehearsed and reinforced
- fits in with Lowestoft’s own move to become a Fair Trade Town and there are local opportunities for students to become involved
The outcome in terms of promoting fair trade is still unfolding – because students were motivated by the day any initiatives on this will be student led.
Global Citizenship and Whole School Change
On the whole the developing citizenship project has been very supportive of existing programmes within humanities.
We have also been able to find and begin to employ a wide range of resources across the school. Food tech are thinking of getting together a programme for Fair Trade Week, Maths are starting to use examples about world development etc to teach statistics etc. Textiles recently ran a workshop using Asian textiles as influences for fashion design. The ICT and drama departments ran a workshop week in parallel with a school in Hong Kong.
The main influence of continuing these developments depends on three things. Firstly, the establishment of Global Citizenship as an integral part of the school’s development plans and policies. Secondly, the enthusiasm of individual teachers. Thirdly, the practical support of senior staff in making sure it doesn’t get lost amongst other initiatives.