Policy & Practice - A Development Education Review



Evolution or revolution? An analysis of the changing faces of development education in the United Kingdom

Professionalisation and Deradicalisation of Development Education
Spring 2011

Seán Bracken, Gareth Dart & Stephen Pickering

In this article, Seán Bracken, Gareth Dart and Stephen Pickering investigate whether and to what extent there has been an ideological shift in the realisation of development education policy and practice over the past three decades.  Using the United Kingdom (UK) as a case study, the paper provides a review of the literature in the field and investigates the extent to which the introduction of the Primary School Curriculum through the Education Reform Act (1988) has had an effect on the teaching and learning of development issues within schools.  Using a conceptual framework loosely based on the work of Andreotti (2008), which interrogates the narrative used in policy formation, the paper provides a comparative analysis of policy and curriculum documents.  The overt and subliminal ideological perspectives adopted in these documents are interrogated to determine the relative positioning regarding how best development issues might be addressed.  A critical analysis of findings is then used as the basis to determine whether there has been a de-radicalisation of the ways in which development education policy and content is addressed particularly in the contexts of formal education.




This paper uses historical inquiry and critical post-colonial analyses (Andreotti, 2008) to explore evolving notions of radicalism versus conservatism as reflected in the formal education sector’s approach to development education in the UK. The study interrogates a variety of policy and curriculum documents over the past 35 years.  However, investigating the supposed linear nature of historical developments in educational policy and practice is problematic because the past continues to interface with the present, and past exemplifications of practice are reflective of temporal contextual factors such as the political settings, spatial implications, and socio-cultural influences (Freathy & Parker, 2010; McCulloch & Richardson, 2000).  Ideational perspectives encompassed in curricula addressing social justice, equality, inclusion and a global dimension may indeed shift over time.

For example, in an overview of the evolution of global education in the UK, Hicks (2007: 19-20) notes that there was a conservative reaction against the concept of development education in the 1980s because it was perceived as condoning indoctrination and politicisation of the educational experience.  Further, such approaches were critiqued as relying on improper teaching methods which ultimately resulted in a lowering of educational standards.  To some extent, this perception may be mirrored in contemporaneous reinterpretations of curriculum, because as outlined in the current White Paper, the curriculum ‘must not try to cover every conceivable area of human learning or endeavour, must not become a vehicle for imposing passing political fads on our children and must not squeeze out all other learning’ (DfE, 2010: 41).  There are hints that an impending reorientation in the curriculum may marginalise the importance of development education, just as in the 1980s an increasing control of the teaching methods and content led to a marginalisation of development education until the mid-1990s.




The methodology used in this paper relies on purposeful interrogations of written policies and procedures which provide insights into the cultural attributes of actions and mindsets based in time and initiated as a result of differing political perspectives (Atkinson & Coffey, 1995). The nature of cultural and political situatedness may become clearer through an interrogation of the conversational nuances within and between a diversity of documents because, ‘all writing is intertextual in that texts relate to other texts, and is social in that writers relate not only to their readers but also to writers of other texts’ (Nelson, 2009: 545).  This ‘comparative intertextuality’ may be further teased out through exploratory investigations of practical teaching materials and by gaining further insights from those who are charged with policy and document development (Rapley, 2008).  However, the analysis of documents is not a straight-forward process because, as recognised by Bryman (2008), policy documents are specifically designed to portray an aspirational reality.  Consequentially, researcher responsibility involves determining the nature and extent of possible dissonance between the aspirational reality as presented in documentation and the complexity of realities as evidenced in the lived experiences of stakeholders.

In order to gain a defined perspective of such dissonances, the methodology also relies on post-colonial perspectives of development education.  These perspectives are identified by Andreotti (2008: 60) as encompassing a focus upon inequality and injustice as opposed to portrayals of those in the global South as being helpless and poverty-stricken.  This perspective also relies on recognition of unequal access to power and resources as the predominant narrative in development policy and practice.  Accordingly, structures, and belief systems purported to be of universal relevance tend to mask asymmetrical power relations reflecting the notions of Northern and Southern elites.  An exemplification of this is reflected in the portrayal of the concept of globalisation which is generally treated as unproblematic and universally beneficial in many formal educational documents.  According to this perspective, the role of the researcher is to reveal where these contentious issues are glossed over and incorporated into policy.


Shifting boundaries, a comparison of differing historical perspectives


Until the recent changes in the political landscape of the UK, a global dimension in teaching and learning was seen as a central part of the curriculum and was supported by numerous resources, provided not just by outré NGOs but by central government.  A primary aim of the National Curriculum before the recent changes identified that:


“The school curriculum should contribute to the development of pupils’ sense of identity through knowledge and understanding of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritages of Britain’s diverse society and of the local, national, European, Commonwealth and global dimensions of their lives”(DfID, 2005: 5).


However, to a large extent, notions of identity or national heritage were not problematised, nor was the notion as to whether the concept of a single national heritage is possible in an era of fluid modernity (Bauman, 2004).

Historically, the concept of development education was defined by the United Nations (UN) in 1975 as an initiative that aimed:


“...to enable people to participate in the development of their community, their nation and the world as a whole.  Such participation implies a critical awareness of local, national and international situations based on an understanding of the social, economic and political processes...and of the reasons for and ways of achieving a new international economic and social order (Hicks & Townley, 1982: 9).


It is noteworthy that this early UN definition recognises issues of power, politics and unequal access to resources as being central to the development process.  The role of development education then involves a strengthening of learners’ critical capacities so that they might lead a movement towards a new international social order.  This model challenges concepts which may be reflected in more recent models of development education which emphasise the necessity for the global South to catch up with economic development policies, priorities and practices established in the global North (Sinclair, in Osler, 1994: 51).  Though there were a variety of development educations in existence in the UK in the 1970s, to a large extent the critical practices associated with the radical definition identified by the UN were realised by the World Studies Project which involved a loose network of schools and teacher educators (Hicks, 2003: 266).

While early initiatives of the World Studies Project and the collaborative engagements between NGOs and the UK’s Development Education Association impacted within a number of schools there was as yet no formal declaration recognising the role of development issues in the curriculum.  However, the government was moving towards the creation of a National Curriculum.  As part of this process, the DES produced a green paper entitled, Education in Schools: A Consultative Document (1977), which included a checklist of ‘essential areas of experience’ incorporating a limited focus upon the social and political (Fowler, 1988:45).  Some 12 years later the Education Reform Act was introduced and it outlined the role of the curriculum in preparing learners for global awareness as follows:


“Every pupil in maintained schools [is entitled]…to a curriculum which (a) promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society; and (b) prepares such pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life” (DES, 1989).


It is arguable that this document formalised the role of the curriculum in preparing learners for an ethical engagement with others, both at home and in the wider world.  However, the scope to which this engagement would be realised is significantly more delimiting than the vision as expressed in the UN definition of development education.  Rather, the focus is very much on the pupil and intrinsic perspectives, rather than the more critical, active and transformative perspectives which were the hallmark of earlier development education initiatives.  Thus, in this historical analysis, radical perspectives in development education were rather short-lived, spanning about a 15 year period between the mid 1970s and lasting until the early 1990s.  Doubtless, the impact of more radical interventions made an impression within participating schools and it is arguable that such interventions had the potential to embed development education issues at the heart of teaching and learning.  Nevertheless, there is a shortage of research data to ascertain precisely the depth or breadth of such interventions.

What is clear is that the introduction of a National Curriculum in England and Wales defined the future scope for what might be taught and learned in all schools.  Because of the very prescriptive nature of the new National Curriculum, there was an exceptionally limited capacity for furthering any extensive engagement with global issues, economic awareness, political engagement or environmental education (Kelly, 1990; Alexander, et al., 1992; Radnor, 1992; NCC, 1993; Butterfield, et al., 1993).  Within the curriculum, the focus was primarily upon a perceived necessity to strengthen the teaching and learning of English and mathematics at the expense of mediating a broader more liberal curriculum. This stance was not without its critics.  For example, the National Curriculum Council (NCC) argued:


“We consider it important that the principle of breadth and balance in the primary curriculum should be retained.  This was a key aspect of the Education Reform Act and we consider that any move to drop subjects would result in an unacceptable narrowing of the curriculum” (NCC, 1993).


Nevertheless, it was not until 1990 that the concept of development education and global citizenship once again gained significant traction within the formal curriculum.  This occurred when the NCC published a pamphlet entitled ‘Education for Citizenship’ which offered specific advice that ‘[p]upils should develop the knowledge and understanding of the variety of communities to which people simultaneously belong: family, school’ (NCC, 1990, cited in Andrews, 1994:7). Practical guidance for the teaching and learning of development education was provided later, particularly with the publication of ‘Global Perspectives in the National Curriculum: Guidance for Key Stages 1 and 2’.  To some extent, this document built on the work of Andrews (1994) who had articulated the ways in which the international dimension could be included in each of the subject areas.

Once again, there is a limited amount of research available for this period which might shed light upon the extent to which global development issues were taken up within mainstream schools.  Nevertheless, even within the more formalised curriculum, as evidenced in the new GCSE examinations from 1986 onwards, there was a growing emphasis upon teaching strategies and practices which had traditionally been the preserve of development educators.  These strategies included the use of investigative work, discussion and debate and an increasingly incorporated emphasis on multi-faceted problem solving techniques.  Schools were also encouraged to develop more creative and diverse schemes of work.  For example, in English a new emphasis was placed upon coping constructively with different points of view.  The new skills and values learned were, and continue to be, core to the development of social awareness and offer greater opportunities for a more profound, critical engagement with global issues.

The revised National Curriculum introduced from 2000 enabled a re-articulation of the role of education within a global perspective.  There was recognition that ‘education influences and reflects the values of society, and the kind of society we want to be’ (DfES/QCA, 1999: 10).  This perspective heralded a new focus upon the necessity for the curriculum to address areas such as societal values, aims and purposes.  The revised curriculum also recognised a need to incorporate the teaching and learning of sustainable development and equality of opportunity.  It also recognised the role of schools in addressing ‘the opportunities and challenges of the rapidly changing world in which we live, including the continued globalisation of the economy and society’ (DfES/QCA, 1999: 10).  Significantly, the revised curriculum interpreted the National Curriculum as being ‘an important element of the school curriculum’ (DfES/QCA, 1999: 10).  In other words, the National Curriculum was no longer seen as the curriculum, but as an element which informed how a school’s curriculum might be developed.  Teaching requirements were greatly reduced so that schools had opportunities to develop additional schemes of work deemed of importance.

Importantly, a ‘Framework for personal, social and health education and citizenship’ was established for key stages (KS) 1 and 2 and Citizenship became part of the curriculum from Key Stage 3.  As identified below, the role of the new framework was to enable pupils to:


“reflect upon their experiences and understand how they are developing personally and socially, tackling many of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues that are part of growing up.  They find out about the main political and social institutions that affect their lives and about their responsibilities, rights and duties as individuals and members of communities” (DfES/QCA, 1999: 136).


Once again, some 24 years following the UN’s definition of development education, the role of political and social awareness appears to have been restored.  In using terminology such as ‘tackling’ social and cultural issues, there was a recognition that education had to engage proactively with contentions aspects of citizenship thus emphasising a role for active, reflective citizenship.  This was a radical advancement of the National Curriculum away from its content-laden origins.  Simultaneously, from 2000 DfID made funds available to NGOs such as the DEA and Oxfam in order to provide support for the teaching and learning of development education (Hicks, 2003).  The DfES itself further supported this process by making available a resource entitled ‘Developing a Global Dimension in the School Curriculum’ which articulated “why the global dimension needs to permeate the wider life and ethos of schools and how this can be done” (DfES, 2000:1).  While aspects of this mainstreaming process may have resulted in a diminution of more radical development education perspectives it certainly achieved a more profound level of engagement with development issues both in the context of teacher education and classroom-based practices. 

The attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001 ensured that aspects of culture, identity and citizenship were brought more forcefully into mainstream education.  NGOs such as the DEA and Oxfam developed workshops and exemplars to explore the relationship between local and global issues of identity and social justice.  Teachers became active contributors to this process, for example TIDE, a Birmingham-based DEC, hosted meetings of the West Midlands and published a document for schools entitled Whose Citizenship? Exploring identity, democracy and participation in a global context. According to this document:


“There is an argument that global processes are transforming cultural identity, minimising its significance…on the other hand, these same global processes have also resulted in the insistence that identities do matter.  Against this backdrop it is particularly important for us to give people, particularly the young, the tools to put their local concerns not only into a regional and national perspective but also into a global one” (Bhalla, 2002, in Tide, 2002: 4)


As the threat of terrorism began to impact on Western countries, so there was a commensurate shifting emphasis from development issues as being solely situated in the global South and a growing awareness of global interconnectedness.  It remains to be seen to what extent this reorientation of focus has had an impact upon learners’ perspectives of social justice and global inequalities and how these might be actively addressed.


Document analysis and discussion


An analysis of six documents, three historical and three more recent, aims to provide insight regarding how development education has been interpreted and enacted in terms of both policy and practice within schools.  This process draws on a critical post-colonial theoretical framework to analyse documentary data.  As indicated earlier, it also draws on a conceptual framework cognisant of semantics and shared meaning as expressed through publications and interrogated through a lens of inter-textual analysis.  The documents were chosen as they were seen to represent a cross-section of key stakeholders involved with development education policy and practice.  As documents were initially reviewed, key attributes emerged which resonated throughout each of the publications, these included: an overarching conceptual framework, a focus upon some form of critical awareness for learners, a concern with the ways in which learners engaged as citizens, a targeting of the curriculum in terms of content or the teaching and learning strategies to be employed.  These foci form the basis of the framework and subsequent discussions featured below.


Historical perspectives on development education



Key issues and perspectives

Global Teacher Global Learner (1988) Pike and Selby. Teaching for Development Education

Report on the International Conference on Development Education (1982)

Development Education Centres as Agents for Educational Change (1979) Stansfield.

Conceptual framework

Focus on development, environment, peace and citizenship (referred to as ‘rights and responsibilities’) through awareness about wealth, ownership, control, power and equality.

There is a necessity for society to be changed radically not just in the countries of the South, but that the Third World compels us to review our own views about the economy, the production, the distribution of work, the conservation of the environment the democratic participation in power. (Speech by Albert Peeters)

Development education in its content now encompasses a study of universal themes such as development (or ‘change for the better’ as it is sometimes defined), basic needs, natural resource depletion and conservation, economic oppression, community self help and multi-cultural society.

Critical awareness

Students should be encouraged to see how perspective is shaped by factors such as age, class, creed, culture, ethnicity, gender, geographical context, ideology, language, nationality and race (1988: 34).

Critical awareness activities are very unfortunately kept in the margin of school-life and are mostly situated after normal working hours.  Many teachers and education systems believe that the classroom is set apart for information and intellectual work, but that educating conscious and socially engaged young people is to take place in out of school activities (1982: 17).

Development education is increasingly concerned with values rather than technical solutions in learning about development and change, so the process of attitude development and self awareness is seen by development educationalists as much more important than the cognitive learning.



Students should explore the social and political action skills necessary for becoming effective participants in democratic decision making at a variety of levels, grassroots to global (1988: 35).

Critical of current manifestations of development literature for example images featured in a recent textbook which asks children to rank people in order under headings between those who are civilised and those who are primitive. It goes a stage further in depicting the ‘native’ as a person with no shelter no clothes water is collected from afar and food is hunted (1982: 31)

Our young people are not sufficiently aware of the international interdependence of modern countries (Quoting from Green Paper in Education; Education in Schools 1977)


A different pedagogical philosophy is required to engage in development education (1988: 48).

There is an argument that although a large variety of curriculum materials has been developed, development education in schools is marginal if non–existent in curriculum terms.

In methodology there is a strong emphasis on democratic classrooms.  

Teachers lack relevant knowledge, skills and confidence in teaching with a development education outlook and personal resistances to innovation are problems.

Philosophical perspective

Carl Rogers: ‘We are faced with an entirely new situation in education where the goal of education, if we are to survive, is the facilitation of change and learning. (1988: 58)

NGOs have vital role to play in the progression of information and training in the field of development education in formal education.

Development Education Centres might create dynamic roles for themselves as outside change agents by engaging in collaborative relationships with schools and LEAs.





Recent perspectives on development education



Key issues and perspectives

Education for Global Citizenship; A guide for schools’ (Oxfam, 2007)

The Cambridge Primary Review (Esmée Fairbairn, undated)


Developing the global dimension in the school curriculum (DfID, 2005)

Conceptual framework



‘... is relevant

to all areas of the curriculum, all abilities and all age ranges.  Ideally it encompasses the whole school – for it is a perspective on the world shared within an institution, and is explicit not only in what is taught and learned in the classroom, but in the school’s ethos.’ (2007: 2)


Excellent teaching can be transformative.  Teachers are at the forefront of education, and this education ‘rejects any suggestion that ‘standards’ are about the 3Rs alone and insists that if curriculum entitlement means anything, it is about excellence across the board, in every aspect of learning’ (27).

Placing the school curriculum within a broader, global context, showing how all subjects can incorporate the global dimension.

Critical awareness



‘Current use of the world’s resources is inequitable and unsustainable. As the gap between rich and poor widens, poverty continues to deny millions of people around the world their basic rights…’ (2007: 1)

‘Globalisation brings unprecedented opportunities, but there are darker visions. Many are daily denied their basic human rights and suffer extreme poverty, violence and oppression... global warming may well make this the make-or break

century for humanity as a whole.’ (4)

At Key Stage 3 and 4 children and young people extend their knowledge of the wider world. Their knowledge of issues such as poverty, social justice and sustainable development increases.





Aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen:

respects and values diversity;

has an understanding of how the world works;

is outraged by social injustice;

participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global;

is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place;

takes responsibility for their actions (2007: 3).

‘... enable children to become active citizens by encouraging their full participation in decision making within the classroom and school, and advancing their understanding of human rights, conflict resolution and social justice. They should develop a sense that human inter-dependence and the fragility of the world order require a concept of citizenship which is global as well as local and national.’ (18)

Global citizenship: (involves) Gaining the knowledge skills and understanding of concepts and institutions necessary to become informed, active, responsible citizens (this includes) developing understanding (though not contesting) of how and where key decisions are made.





(students) fully in their own learning through the use of a wide range of active and participatory learning methods. These engage

the learner while developing confidence, self-esteem and skills of critical thinking, communication, co-operation and conflict resolution (2007: 1).

Education should ‘guarantee children’s entitlement to breadth, depth and balance, and to high standards in all areas of learning, not just the 3Rs; combines a national framework with protected local elements; ensures that language, literacy and oracy are paramount.’ (22)

Education plays a vital role in helping children and young people recognise their contribution and responsibilities as global citizens (2005: 2).

Philosophical perspective



‘A just and sustainable world in which all may fulfil their potential’ (2007: 1) can be secured through Education for Global Citizenship

The curriculum should be genuinely community based, everyone should feel that they can make a difference and the voice of the child should be paramount.

In a global society, the global dimension can be integrated into both the curriculum and the wider life of schools (2005: 1).



Is it possible to draw any conclusions in the light of the analysis above with regards to the emphasis of a radical Global Dimensions agenda within the curriculum?  We take ‘Global Dimensions’ to encompass ‘development education’ whilst recognising that we may not be quite comparing like with like.  Perhaps what can be discerned are a variety of shifts that represent both opportunities and challenges.  While access to documents prior to the pre-National Curriculum was limited, they all appear to share a rather pessimistic analysis regarding the opportunities for, and willingness of, teachers and schools to engage with development education.  Any notion that schools and teachers had a freer, more creative hand before the introduction of the National Curriculum is soon disabused by reading the reflections of various authors, at least as far as this subject goes.


“Because it’s a school classroom, there are particular expectations and conventions about what can and cannot be done.  There’s a fixed period of time” (Richardson, 1977: 5).


Even more stridently Pike and Selby, admittedly post-National Curriculum but not so long after, state bluntly:


“We have argued that schools are human potential dustbins: the prevailing condition of extremely limited consciousness is manifestly dominant in the way in which the learning process is organised and structured in schools” (1988: 47).


It would appear that whilst the pre-National Curriculum environment offered the potential for a greater freedom in terms of curriculum content and pedagogical practice the reality was actually one of schools and teachers feeling constrained by common practice and values. Although Stansfield appears to have felt that there were great opportunities just around the corner for the expansion of development education arising from a change in approach towards both curriculum and teaching and learning initiatives – ‘…the era of centralised curriculum projects appears to be over’ (1979:7) - and she foresaw an increase in locally tailored methods that suited the role of development education centres as well as a shift towards “…the affective domain, participatory learning, team teaching and interdisciplinary studies” (ibid.:12). This now reads like the curriculum version of idyllic accounts of that long Edwardian Indian summer before the outbreak of World War One and implies that there never was a ‘golden age’ when teachers, and schools as a whole employed their freedom to construct participatory and democratic teaching and learning.

Participants at the International Conference on Development Education held in Ghent in 1982 would have been left with the thought that although speakers acknowledged that strides had been taken in the previous decade to shift the focus of development education from a stance of charitable support to ‘Third World’ countries to one of a more critical engagement of pupils and society in general, there was still plenty of ground to be covered and challenges to be met:


“An examination of timetables, curricula, syllabi, and examinations illustrates this fact and shows that development education in schools is a marginal if non-existent issue in curriculum terms” (CIE, 1982: 6).


And in reference to the UK in particular, it was noted that although development education appeared to be on the verge of a breakthrough in the 1970s ‘…many worthwhile enterprises are actually in danger of complete extinction…’ (ibid.: 10).  The main issues highlighted by the conference seemed to be that NGOs of themselves did not have the power to create major changes in schools and that schools needed to take on the challenge by rewriting curricula, producing materials and training teachers, the latter being viewed as perhaps the most crucial factor in the success or otherwise of the enterprise.  Very few school authorities or governments Europe-wide were supporting such initiatives.

Presumably, the conference delegates would be highly gratified, at least on certain levels, to see the much more central place that the Global Dimension has occupied in the school curriculum over the last decade and would be delighted with the sheer weight of supportive material available to teachers and schools through a variety of NGO and official government documentation.  Moreover, the encouragement given to teachers to integrate this strand throughout the whole curriculum and across the wider school context (for instance ‘Fairtrade’ schools) would have given them cause for celebration.  The Global Dimension could no longer be described as it is in the conference report as being marginal, if not non-existent, in curriculum terms.

So is there a trade off between this broadening of engagement and a more radical/critical approach?  The Oxfam materials analysed above would seem to indicate not.  They refer to inequitable and unsustainable use of resources, the need for basic human rights to be met and call for pupils as citizens to be ‘outraged’ by social injustice and to ‘act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place.’ (Oxfam, 2006: 3).  Likewise the Cambridge Review (Fairbairn, undated) speaks of ‘darker visions’ of globalisation and the need to develop pupils’ understanding of human rights, social justice and conflict resolution.  In this they appear to broadly reflect the viewpoints of the earlier documents with their emphasis on the need to give students the opportunities and skills to engage with a critical debate about not only what particular injustices and challenges typify the contemporary world but also questions as to why these exist and what might be done about them from a perspective of social justice and human rights rather than from a purely charitable viewpoint.

However, these two contemporary exemplar documents carry no official weight with regards to the delivery of the Global Dimension in the National Curriculum, that role being carried out by the government-sponsored DfID document ‘Developing the Global Dimension in the School Curriculum’ (DGDSC) (DfID, 2005).  While the latter publication provides fairly extensive scope for teachers and schools to incorporate a development education perspective right across the curriculum, the extent to which this realises a truly critical engagement with core issues of injustice and equality is rather more contentious.  Indeed, Andreotti identifies the single greatest shortcoming of this official policy document as being one of having a questionable conceptual framework, thus:


“While DGDSC depicts the problem as the poverty or helplessness of the ‘other’, resulting from a lack of development, education, resources, skills, knowledge, culture or technology, a post-colonial perspective presents the problem as inequality and injustice originating from complex structures and systems (including systems of belief and psychological internalizations), power relations and attitudes that tend to eliminate difference and maintain exploitation and enforced disempowerment” (Andreotti, 2008: 59).

So while it can be argued that there is currently sufficient scope for educators to embed a development education perspective in the mediation of the curriculum, the extent to which there is latitude for a robust engagement with the root causes of inequality and powerlessness is rather more limited, at least if one relies upon official documentation.  Nevertheless, as identified above, there are other resources and teaching materials which offer alternative development paradigms for educators to adopt.




This research has revealed that there may have been a diminution in the radical perspectives as evidenced in earlier policy documents addressing issues of development.  However, over time it is clear that the mainstreaming of development education has impacted significantly and positively on the opportunities that are available for all learners to engage with issues of equality, identity, social justice and development.  In contrast, there are questions regarding the potential impact of interventions which do not overtly challenge inequality and injustice.  For example, one of the findings in the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study identified that, ‘there has been a hardening of attitudes toward equality and society, a weakening of attachment to communities and fluctuating levels of engagement, efficacy and trust in the political arena’ (DES, 2010: 1).  It is questionable whether such shortcomings will be addressed in forthcoming revisions of the curriculum which appear to place more value upon ‘the learning of facts and (equipping) children with essential knowledge’ in both history and geography rather than enabling them to engage critically with ideas and concepts (Guardian, 20 January 2011).  Moreover, it is entirely possible that teaching of subjects such as citizenship may not in future form any part of a core curriculum leaving it to the discretion of individual schools as to whether or not to incorporate elements of citizenship and a global dimension in the school’s curriculum.

Without doubt, there have been advancements in the provision of teaching and learning in the field of development education and it is arguable that these may have come at the expense of of more radical critical engagement with development issues.  However, it is likely in the current climate of market-driven changes in the educational landscape that impending debates regarding the place of development education in the formal curriculum will more likely be dominated by a desire to maintain momentum made through mainstreaming rather than being focused upon further radicalisation of current policies or strategies.




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Seán Bracken is currently a senior lecturer in education at the University of Worcester where he acts as the Course Leader for the Masters level National Award SENCo (NASC). He also contributes to undergraduate programmes for educators where he shares professional insights into policies and practices addressing cultural diversity, inclusion and plurilingualism. Previously, Seán has worked as a teacher, a teacher educator, and a curriculum developer in Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the United States of America, and Ireland.


Gareth Dart is currently a senior lecturer in education at the University of Worcester where he acts as the Course Leader for the BA Education Studies. Having worked in Botswana for a number of years in developing initial teacher education courses around issues of inclusion and special education he maintains an interest in teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa and is currently the link person for TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa www.tessafrica.net) with Zambia.  


Stephen Pickering is a Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Worcester where he is the course leader for geography and a module leader for Professional Studies on the ITE undergraduate and postgraduate courses. He is also a consultant for the Geographical Association and on the Editorial Board of the journal, Primary Geography. Previously Stephen has worked as a teacher and a County Advisor on Education for Sustainable Development.

Bracken, S, Dart, G and Pickering, S (2011) 'Evolution or revolution? An analysis of the changing faces of development education in the United Kingdom', Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 12, Spring, pp. 47-65.