Citizenship is a natural companion to global learning. The scale of engagement ranges from the global looking at issues and societies, to the individual looking at connections and actions. Links can also be made to issues explored through PSHE such as young people’s contribution to society and social and economic wellbeing. Themes may include issues such as sustainability, community cohesion and student leadership, alongside opportunities for young people to develop a sense of their own identity and values.

A Cities project working group has developed materials with a focus on young people’s engagement with democracy. For more information click here

For details of our major EU-funded 2013-16 international teacher project, including opportunities for young people's leadership development, click here

In the sections below, teachers share ideas for addressing both content and pedagogy. Inevitably there is cross over between them – how can we talk about sustainability, without considering teaching approaches to controversial issues or providing opportunities for active citizenship, or indeed engaging with activities which develop empathy and consideration of other viewpoints?   

We hope that these resources will inspire you to try some global learning activities in your classroom ~ we would love to hear how they went!

Contact us to find out more about the support we offer, including our professional development programme and current teacher projects.

Learning as sustainable development

‘Whose citizenship?... a teachers toolkit’ contains many ideas for enabling a global approach to local citizenship investigations. It explores connections between people and places, and shares insights from teachers on principles and pitfalls.

A suite of resources ‘Towards Ubuntu’,' Exploring Ubuntu’ and ‘Comparative education and quality global learning’ were developed as ITE stimulus material to explore the comparisons between education systems. With an emphasis on South Africa, these resources will inspire and challenge students, particularly those who are training to become teachers.

Professor Bill Scott raised a challenge of how we enable learners to engage critically with sustainability issues. The result was a series of school based projects focussing on participation in real life issues. To find out more about these projects and the Bill Scott Challenge click here.

Science, D&T and Geography all have a specific role alongside Citizenship in addressing sustainable development.

Community Cohesion

What contribution do schools make to cohesive communities locally and globally?

‘Building new citizenship ~ learning from change in Derry/Londonderry’ is a case study supported by a range of images, maps and artwork, which uses activities to explore shared experiences and commonality within and between communities.

‘Citizenship in common?’ uses posters to explore the relationship between Africa and Europe focussing on historical links, trade, wealth and future dimensions.

‘Family Album’ contains photographs of families in the UK which can be used to stimulate discussion about communities and relationships.

Controversial issues

What do we mean by controversial issues? Many of the topics covered in Citizenship and PSHE such as relationships, faith and human rights can be controversial.  Sometimes issues arise in an unplanned way that teachers feel they need to explore with their learners. How do teachers do this in a supportive way? These materials provide suggestions to support those teaching controversial issues. 

Current issues and events locally and globally may also be controversial or sensitive. For example, what is an appropriate response to an earthquake or a famine? How do young people make sense of news reports and appeals for support? These resources give some suggestions which will be useful in helping teachers respond appropriately. 

Exploring identity

Citizenship and PHSE provide unique opportunities for young people to explore their own identity and that of others.

In the decade since September 11th Muslim communities have been under a media spotlight which often re-enforces differences. ‘Citizenship and Muslim perspectives’ came out of an interest expressed by teachers to explore Muslim perspectives further, and share ideas for classroom activities.

In ‘Global learning: a challenge to teachers, a challenge to schools’ Dr Fran Martin  shares ideas on how we approach difference, and how this impacts on global learning.

Active citizenship

How can we make the most of opportunities for young people to engage in activities as citizens?

‘Young people’s active citizenship event’ gives feedback from an event carried out as part of the Cities project where young people from around Birmingham engaged with some of the key issues facing Cities today including migration, waste, health and homelessness, and considered how they could respond.

‘Young people’s voices at Copenhagen’ is an example of young people responding to an international event by sending a message to world leaders at the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen.


What do young people understand by democracy and how it works? A teacher group is currently looking at democracy and democratic movements with a focus on the Arab Spring, while recognising that street protests are increasingly common. To find out more click here.

For a more in depth look at the relationship between democracy and education see ‘Democracy and democratic schooling’ and ‘Education, democracy and poverty reduction’

Using photographs, newspapers and cartoons as stimuli for learning

Images can raise lots of questions, and are a powerful learning resource.  Teaching ideas including using images to explore controversial issues, along with a selection of downloadable materials are available here.

Newspapers provide a range of perspectives on real and contemporary issues, which inform and challenge learning.  For ideas on how to use newspapers, click here

‘Thin black lines rides again’ is an engaging collection of cartoons that raise serious issues about development and perceptions of the world – thoughtful and stimulating, these are designed to provoke discussion.  For downloadable images, click here

Developing enquiry approaches

A starting point for many discussions about global issues has been the Development Compass Rose [DCR].  The DCR framework reminds us to consider a range of perspectives related to environmental, social, economic and political aspects supporting a deeper understanding of interdependence.  This process challenges our assumptions and stereotypes, while creating a space to listen to others’ viewpoints of the world.  The questions raised at this stage could be the starting point for future learning and activities, essential in a process which allows young people to have greater control over their learning.

Exploring global learning

‘Enabling global learning through the key stage 3 curriculum’ shares ideas about global learning, proposes an entitlement for young people and is supported by a range of downloadable material which can be used in the classroom or with colleagues in a CPD session.

Cross-curricular working

A cross-curricular approach supports the connections between different disciplines, and strengthens subject rigour. 

‘Planning for citizenship at KS3/4’ shares one schools experience.

‘Enabling through cross curricular approaches’ includes ideas for deep learning days, inter-disciplinary collaboration and issue based approaches.  In this article, teachers in Wolverhampton share their experiences of working collaboratively across subject boundaries.