With 50% of the world’s population now living in urban areas,* cities are places where global interconnections are made; where cultures and languages co-exist; where change happens to people, and people make change happen.  City experiences connect us as learners to others around the world. 

*Source:  UN-HABITAT State of the World’s Cities Report 2010/2011

Cities, people and change offers an approach to curriculum development for teachers which is based on the idea that, by asking questions about our own city, we can also explore complex global development such as financial uncertainty, poverty, conflict, migration, globalisation and sustainability in a manageable and meaningful way.

This publication offers ideas and support developed by groups of teachers for exploring cities through a range of curriculum approaches. Follow the links below for more information.

Using this publication


Thinking it through

Thinking about cities, development and global learning

Global connections ~ globalisation and development

A series of activities exploring issues of globalisation through Humanities

City languages ~ intercultural understanding through MFL

Different approaches to exploring intercultural understanding through Modern Foreign Languages

Dynamic cities ~ democracy and influence

An approach to exploring democracy and influence with young people through Citizenship

Living archives ~ exploring migration stories

Using archive materials to explore migration stories through Geography and History

Using this publication

You might:

  • be planning from a particular subject or issue starting point, for example MFL or Geography;

Activities within this publication offer examples of curriculum development from a range of perspectives: using integrated cross-curricular approaches; collaborative planning between departments; provision for Gifted and Talented students; subject specific approaches.  We hope that you will find the ideas and activities useful in your own contexts.

Working with colleagues

Planning to address issues of change, conflict and politics with a group of young people is not an easy option.  It is not risk-free, but can bring huge benefits to their learning.  As teachers, we have a duty to find ways for young people to explore these sensitive and controversial issues in a safe environment. 

This can be a daunting prospect, and we may feel unsure of our own opinions about certain issues.  As teachers, we need time and space to explore issues and implications for ourselves and with our colleagues in order to be able to address them with confidence in the classroom.  As such, we believe that time spent with colleagues developing ideas and approaches is vital in order to help young people make realistic sense of them.

Enabling global learning through the KS3 curriculum includes a range of CPD activities to support discussions with colleagues including a proposed entitlement to global learning and initial thoughts about what progression in global learning might look like.  Building on this, a group of teachers have further explored ways of expressing progression in global learning, and have developed a proposed framework based around existing criteria for Citizenship, PLTS, Literacy, Geography and PSHE.  We’d be very interested in your comments about this framework.

Cities, people and change

The ideas and activities shared in this publication were developed by groups of teachers in and around Birmingham approaching creative curriculum development in a range of ways, but all addressing the needs of learners growing up in an increasing global and urbanised society.

We hope that, whatever your starting point, or school priorities, you will find ideas which will inspire your own curriculum development with a city focus.  We are very interested in the ways in which you use the materials.  Please send us feedback or comments. 

For details of a 2013-16 project which builds on this work, click here