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While there is no set model, effective global citizenship education requires a whole-school approach and is a process of lifelong learning.

Global citizenship education (GCED) transcends all disciplines and extends beyond the classroom into our daily lives and the wider community. Located in every aspect of school life, GCED is in the vision, strategic direction, goal setting, appraisal process, pastoral care, food available to staff and students, transport and wider school community. It gives us the mandate to deliver holistic education and advance knowledge, skills, wisdom and wellbeing. 

While extending our learning to the ends of the Earth and beyond, we are still operating in a traditional classroom environment, and GCED sits there too with challenges and opportunities.

System change not climate change.

© Mika Baumeister, Unsplash

Getting started

The first and most important steps to embedding and integrating GCED into a school include:

  • giving it a name, a home and someone to look after it

  • valuing what’s already going on

  • engaging the wider community and communicating well.

Give it a name

For global citizenship education to flourish, it must have the full support and commitment of the school leadership. The first thing to do is to name it as a whole-school initiative and create a leadership role or roles to manage it and a home for planning, learning and associated activities.

Recognise and value existing practices

One of the greatest challenges is the concern that the introduction of GCED is something else for teachers to pack into an overcrowded curriculum. This is a valid concern, and while GCED is not a subject to add but a framework to support what is taking place in learning areas, there is a significant amount to do to embed the initiative.  Recognising and valuing what is already happening is the best place to start. In its parts, GCED will be found across all disciplines so curriculum mapping and weaving the threads together will draw this out. 

Engage beyond the school

By reaching out to the wider community and working in partnership across sectors, students and teachers can engage in the sharing of ideas and practice with those in positions of leadership and developmental change. At the same time, business and political leaders can learn from active youth voices and their creativity.  Traditional linear structures for learning are losing relevance in the globalised, networked world. 

Global citizenship education helps us to understand our own identity and our place in the world, to seek knowledge and insight from a variety of viewpoints and to explore different cultural perspectives. At a time when young people are developing their own views on how things work and what matters, GCED provides opportunities for students to analyse and critique important issues. By participating in the reasoned exchange of ideas in the classroom, students develop greater tolerance of and respect for others. Critical thinking, values and principles required by GCED leave no room for ignorance of the wants and needs of others. 

People educated as global citizens will recognise the essential role of empathy in human flourishing. Rather than questioning why and how we might implement GCED, we could be asking what the consequences will be if we do not educate for responsible global citizenship.

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