Policy & Practice - A Development Education Review



Education for Social Change: The Global Learning Programme in the North of Ireland

Development Education in the Formal Sector
Autumn 2016

Stephen McCloskey

Abstract: The Global Learning Programme (GLP) is a four-year initiative funded by the UK government that aims ‘to support schools to teach about global poverty and international development, with a particular focus on upper primary and early secondary school’ (DfID, 2013).  The overarching outcome for the project in Northern Ireland is ‘increased and improved delivery of development education in 50% of grant aided primary, secondary and special schools’.  It seeks ‘to embed development education and global citizenship as regular practice across curriculum subjects and through whole school initiatives’.  The GLP in the north of Ireland is managed by the Centre for Global Education and this article outlines the programme of support provided to schools including Continuing Professional Development (CPD), twilight training, senior leadership seminars and a designated website.  The article will also describe the mixed methods approach used to evaluate the impact of the GLP on schools and, in particular, its effectiveness in implementing global learning in the classroom.  The article will summarise research findings to date and what they reveal about how teachers have perceived the value of the support provided.  The article will conclude by considering the positive impact of the GLP on the wider global education non-governmental sector in Northern Ireland.

Key words: Global Learning; Primary and Post-Primary Schools; Continuing Professional Development; Whole School Learning.

The Global Learning Programme (GLP) is a four-year formal sector programme of support for primary, post-primary and special schools in the north of Ireland managed by the Centre for Global Education, a development NGO based in Belfast.  The programme in Northern Ireland is part of a UK-wide initiative supported by the Department for International Development (DfID) and also delivered in England, Scotland and Wales.  The programme aims to strengthen the capacity of lead teachers and school senior leaders to embed global learning as a whole school approach. The Northern Ireland Curriculum has distinctive programmes that support a broader and more integrated approach to global learning such as World Around Us at primary level and Local and Global Citizenship at post-primary level.  The GLP team has developed promotional literature and whole school guidance that relates the aims and objectives of the programme to the key learning outcomes of the Northern Ireland Curriculum.  It is a programme with serious ambition and intent that seeks to shift schools away from the teaching of global learning through subject silos such as Geography and Religious Education to a more rounded engagement that includes school leadership, community connections and extra-curricular initiatives.  Most crucially, it seeks to enable teachers to recognise the value of global learning in supporting curriculum teaching across the full spectrum of subject learning areas and to help resource classroom practice.  Ultimately, the programme is focused on enhancing pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the underlying causes of poverty and how it can be reduced. 

            The GLP is approaching the half-way stage of its delivery and this article is part of a stock taking exercise, reflecting on how the programme has been delivered to date and received by its primary target group; practising teachers at Key Stage 2 (8-11 years) and Key Stage 3 (11-14 years).  The central component of GLP delivery is Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the form of two full days’ training centred on whole school approaches to global learning.  The article will consider the CPD content offered by the GLP and how the training has been monitored, researched and evaluated.  The teachers co-ordinating global learning (referred to as ‘lead teachers’) and their senior leadership representative jointly complete a self-evaluation tool which assesses the impact of the training on teaching and whole school practice.  The lead teachers also complete a questionnaire which measures the impact of the training on their understanding of global learning, on their classroom practice and on their pupils. In addition, a small sample of six schools (a convenience sample distributed across Northern Ireland and representing all key school types) is participating in a qualitative, longitudinal study for the duration of the programme.  The article will summarise research findings to date and what they reveal about teachers’ perceptions with regards to the value of support provided.  This support includes a guidance document on ‘A Whole School Approach to Global Learning’ (CGE, 2015), a programme website and the development of exemplar classroom materials.  There will also be a brief reflection on the impact of the programme on the wider global education sector in the north of Ireland.  The terms global education, development education, global learning and global citizenship are used interchangeably in the article as concepts concerned with enhanced public awareness of, and action on, the issues underpinning social and economic inequality at local and global levels (McCloskey, 2014; 2015).  There are two main sections in the article focused on GLP training and research.

The GLP training

In 2014, the Centre for Global Education commenced delivery of a four year programme (subsequently extended to July 2018) funded by the DfID, the Westminster government department responsible for overseas development aid (ODA) and global education.  The terms of reference for delivery of the Global Learning Programme included the overarching outcome of:

“increased and improved delivery of development education in 50% of grant aided primary, secondary and special schools in Northern Ireland. The Project will support schools to embed development education and global citizenship as regular practice across curriculum subjects and through whole school initiatives” (DfID, 2013).

The programme was supported by DfID following a 2011 assessment of the impact of its development education work in the UK which ‘recommended that DfID should continue to support development education through the formal education system in the UK’ (ibid).  The GLP is therefore their current flagship development education project which includes support for GLPs in England, Scotland and Wales as well as the north of Ireland, with each programme having the same target.  The Programme’s aim is ‘to support schools to teach about global poverty and international development, with a particular focus on upper primary and early secondary school’ toward ‘providing an area of continuity’ (ibid). 

            The Programme in Northern Ireland has four key outputs: first, that school senior leadership teams (SLTs) understand the benefits of development education and global citizenship; second, that teachers have the relevant knowledge, skills and resources to support classroom practice and a whole school approach in global learning; third, that teachers share their knowledge, expertise and good practice in development education with other schools; and fourth, that the programme provide evidence of effective approaches to development education in line with curriculum guidance.  Achieving these outputs would require the delivery of a considerable training programme with the 50 percent school target amounting to 538 primary, post-primary and special schools.  The Centre for Global Education determined that reaching this target within the three year timescale would require the provision of substitute cover to schools to secure the release of teachers.  Otherwise, in a period of contracting school budgets and over-stretched staff, it would prove very difficult to access teachers in the numbers required by the programme.

            The wider educational context in which the project has been delivered so far has been unsettled as a result of fundamental change to the support services provided to schools.  Five education and library boards (ELBs) servicing schools in five distinct geographical regions across the north of Ireland have been subsumed into a single Educational Authority (EA) which has resulted in redundancies amid a general contraction of public spending.  An estimated ‘1,500 teaching and support staff jobs are expected to be lost in the education sector as a result of budget cuts’ (Black, 2015) which has directly impacted on the Curriculum Advisory Support Services (CASS) provided to schools which includes the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of teachers.  While the EA aims ‘to harmonise policies and the delivery of services’, the new body is not yet fully operational which makes the GLP’s challenge of promoting its programme to schools all the more difficult.  More positively, the availability of high quality training in global learning is a significant selling point given the reduced training output from the statutory sector in this transitionary period.  Therefore, the Centre for Global Education set about designing a programme that met specifications of the GLP terms of reference and curricular requirements at Key Stages 2 and 3.

Delivering the GLP

The process of engagement with the GLP for schools spans 12-18 months (see Figure 1) and begins with the promotion of the programme through a mailshot to schools in each location in which training is delivered.  Each training cohort is normally drawn from 3-5 locations which are rotated to maximise uptake and ensure that all schools have access to a local training venue at some point in the programme timeline.  The flyer is disseminated with an accompanying letter and is often followed up with telephone contact to the school principal to explain in more detail the potential benefits of the training.  Telephone contact is becoming increasingly essential to the GLP as 233 of the targeted 538 schools have already engaged with the programme, which means that the majority of schools with an existing involvement and/or interest in global education are likely to have already participated in the training.  One key challenge facing the project team is to involve schools that are ‘cold’ to this area and less engaged, or have alternative commitments to other global learning initiatives such as Eco-Schools (www.ecoschoolsni.org) and Rights Respecting Schools (Unicef UK).  In this scenario, contact by telephone can be decisive because busy principals who receive a considerable amount of literature through the post are more likely to respond positively to calls that succinctly explain why their staff and pupils will benefit from the GLP.  However, some schools will always struggle to participate in the GLP because of a lack of staffing capacity such as small, rural schools with teaching principals.  

            The GLP process begins with an optional two-hour briefing session for senior leaders which outlines the benefits of a whole school approach to global learning, sets out the curriculum areas that support it at Key Stages 2 and 3, provides experiential global education learning opportunities, highlights how it complements existing educational policies and initiatives, and explains how to complete the self-evaluation tool.  The sessions target senior leaders because they have planning oversight that can support a whole school approach, and are in a position to monitor delivery of the programme across subject boundaries.  The majority of schools that participate in the SLT seminars subsequently nominate a colleague to take part in the CPD days although many schools commit themselves to the entire global learning process prior to the senior leadership sessions.  Those schools that do not enrol on the CPD training immediately will normally participate in a later training cohort.  This is usually because of a scheduling issue for the teacher or competing priorities.

            Following the SLT seminar, the senior leader will discuss the programme internally and identify a member of staff to participate in the CPD training days.  At primary level, this is normally a teacher responsible for co-ordination of the World Around Us (n.d.) or Personal Development and Mutual Understanding (CCEA, 2011) – programmes in the Northern Ireland Curriculum which support learning about the local community and wider world.  At post–primary level, the school co-ordinator for Local and Global Citizenship (2014) will often attend the training.  At Key Stage 3, Local and Global Citizenship deals with themes that include: Diversity and Inclusion; Equality and Social Justice; and Democracy and Active Participation which fit well with the content of the GLP training.  Local and Global Citizenship is one of four strands of ‘Learning for Life and Work’, which is a statutory requirement in the Northern Ireland Curriculum, and aims to help students ‘meet the challenges and opportunities of contemporary society’ (CCEA, 2007: 3).  Teachers from the schools registered in each cohort of the training attend the CPD days at a local venue, with the two training days organised a few weeks apart to support reflection on content between sessions.

Continuing Professional Development

The content of the CPD days expands upon and deepens the learning from the senior leadership seminars, and aims to strengthen the motivation and confidence of teachers to address global issues in the classroom from the perspectives of knowledge, methodology, curriculum and resources.  Day one of the training introduces the concept of critical literacy and how it can be applied to understanding the causes of poverty.  It also provides experiential learning opportunities through activities such as the ‘Trading Game’ (Christian Aid, n.d.), a role play simulation exercise on trade justice and inequality that works well in the classroom.  Teachers are also given a development policy overview on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and introduced to the key concepts and a progression of global learning pupil outcomes across Key Stages.  The training also gives the teachers the opportunity to reflect on, and familiarise themselves with, a whole school framework (see figure 2) and to consider and share what global learning is already taking place in their schools.  Teachers are to consider whether certain activities undertaken by schools constitute good practice in global learning.  Every session is resourced with film clips, web links, teaching activities and handouts that the teacher can use in the classroom. 

            Day two of the training opens with an activity on the global clothing industry through the use of images and enables teachers to reflect on the images they use in the classroom, and how they can perpetuate stereotypes as well as support critical thinking.  The session then focuses in detail on the curriculum context of global learning and the development of topic webs that support cross-curricular work on global issues such as water and migration.  It also links global learning to literacy and numeracy which are current curriculum priorities for the Department of Education (DE) in Northern Ireland.  By demonstrating how global learning can enhance the literacy and numeracy of pupils, the training can strengthen the confidence of teachers to incorporate global issues into their practice.  The second half of day two centres on planning next steps including the role of the teachers in cascading the training into their schools.  This will include sharing with colleagues the benefits of global learning, how it can be incorporated into different subjects and connected learning, features of the programme website (www.globallearningni.com) and where they can access suitable resources. 

Figure 1. ‘The Process’ (CGE, 2015: 5)

The GLP process
Figure 1 describes the 12-18 month process for schools on the GLP from registration through to certification.  Schools can register on the GLP website (www.globallearningni.com) and, following the SLT seminar and two CPD days’ training, the lead teacher will complete the whole school self-evaluation tool with their senior leadership team representative in order to assess what stage their school is at in terms of the whole school areas outlined in Figure 2.  The self-evaluation tool will also enable them to decide whether they wish to add aspects of the whole school global learning framework to their school development plans.  As part of the GLP implementation and review process, schools are expected to participate in two twilight training sessions one year apart.  These sessions are normally delivered outside teaching hours hence the term ‘twilight’.  They involve clusters of around six schools in the same locality that have participated in the training and are hosted in one of the schools.  The first twilight, which takes place one or two months after the second day’s training, enables lead teachers to reflect on their self-evaluation process, share ideas, learn about useful resources available online and decide upon global learning actions to implement in their school over the subsequent year.  The actions will include cascading the learning from the training back to their colleagues.  The second twilight takes place approximately one year after the initial training and allows teachers to share the global learning practice that has taken place in their schools since the training.  They also receive support in developing new global learning actions that will enable them to progress further along the stages of the whole school global learning framework.  In terms of post-training support, participating schools receive a login for the GLP web site where they can find all of the activities or resources used or referenced during the training.  The website also provides stories of good practice, information about further training opportunities and links to other relevant sites that provide high quality resources.  Regular project updates are also available from the project’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and an electronic newsletter (e-zine).

            The programme acknowledges that all schools will be at different points in their global learning journey and provides certification in recognition of their commitment to the process.  There are two levels of certification.  Level 1 requires that schools nominate a lead teacher who participates in the two CPD days; complete the self-evaluation tool in consultation with colleagues; create global actions for the school development plan; and cascade the training through the lead teacher to colleagues in a peer education session.  Level 2 certification additionally requires that the lead teacher, senior leader and other relevant colleagues implement the school development plan actions; the lead teacher attends two twilight sessions within a 12-month period; and schools complete a second self-evaluation tool and create new actions for the school development plan (CGE, 2015: 6).  Figure 3 outlines some of the themes discussed in the training and developed into web links.  They are issues that complement the key cross-cutting programmes in the Northern Ireland Curriculum that support global learning.  However, a potential drawback for the programme is that global learning is not a named strand or component of the Northern Ireland Curriculum and many teachers are not familiar with the terminology used to describe this area of education.  These terms include development education, global dimension, development awareness as well as global learning.  This can sometimes create uneasiness among teachers with concerns that this is an ‘add-on’ to their workload rather than a platform of support to deliver the existing curriculum.  The programme training is crucial in providing clarity to teachers on terminology and where global learning resides in the primary and post-primary curriculum.

Figure 2. ‘A Whole School Framework for Embedding Global Learning’ (CGE, 2015: 16)

            Given the logistical challenge of promoting and organising the training, it is not delivered directly by the Centre for Global Education.  A small team has been recruited within the Centre to: design promotional literature and disseminate it to schools followed-up by telephone contact; organise training venues and related logistical issues; design and maintain the GLP website; develop a toolkit of resources for schools on global learning; and liaise with the researchers on the monitoring and evaluation of the programme.  The training is delivered by ‘global educators’, a pool of experienced global education practitioners who are either freelance consultants or employed by local development organisations.  They deliver the SLT and CPD sessions as well as facilitating the twilight training.  Constant liaison between the project hub and global educators is crucial to the success of the project and they regularly meet to reflect on training delivery, adjust the content where necessary and plan future sessions.

A whole school approach

One of the central elements of the training is to explain to teachers what a whole school approach to global learning looks like and how its various elements – outlined in Figure 2 – can contribute to active citizenship for young people with a local and global focus.  The Centre for Global Education’s guidance document for teachers suggests that ‘A whole school approach involves incorporating global learning themes, issues, perspectives and approaches more broadly into classroom teaching and learning and beyond’ (2015: 17).  In curricular terms, global learning provides teachers and pupils with a range of skills including critical literacy, empathy, self-awareness and reflection, communication, collaborative working, managing complexity and reflective action (Oxfam, 2015).  It also promotes values and attitudes that espouse social justice and equality as well as building within the learner a sense of identity and self-esteem.  These skills and values are put into practice across a range of subjects including Languages, Science, Mathematics, Art, Drama and History, Music and Religious Education.  The benefits of global learning also extend to teaching and learning processes that require active participation and facilitate the ‘voice of children and young people’ (CCEA, 2007).

            Beyond the curriculum, a whole school approach requires that the School Leadership Team understand and supports global learning to ensure that a global perspective is included in the school ethos and vision.  This is a very ambitious and challenging goal for a three year programme that has not been the direct product of curriculum development.  It places a premium on senior leadership support to ensure that global learning is reflected within whole school policy and in staff development, as well as facilitating student participation in global learning planning and evaluation.  Additional aspects of the whole school approach include building connections with the wider community by enabling parents and carers to understand the aims and benefits of global learning, and strengthening links with other schools.  The GLP facilitates this process through the establishment of school cluster groups and sharing of good practice.  It also enhances connections between development NGOs involved in the programme and participating schools. 

            Awards and extra-curricular activities constitute yet another dimension to the whole school network.  Many schools in the north of Ireland are already participating in award schemes with a global dimension such as Eco-Schools and Unicef’s Rights Respecting Schools.  The GLP augments the activities carried out as part of these schemes and provides teachers and pupils with knowledge and understanding that will complement and support their completion of the awards.  The Centre for Global Education’s ‘Whole School Approach to Global Learning’ guidance document contains four fictional case studies of schools at different stages on the road to embedding global learning within their whole school environment (2015: 21-27).  These case studies provide schools with a sense of what a ‘whole school approach’ means in practice and, by the completion of the GLP, the programme aims to compile actual case studies based on activities in the six schools participating in the qualitative research process.

Figure 3. Global Learning Themes (CGE, 2015: 7)

The GLP research

A mixed methods approach was used to evaluate the impact of the GLP on schools and, in particular, its effectiveness in implementing global learning in the classroom.  The quantitative element of the research involved the completion of two online questionnaires; the lead teacher questionnaire and the self-evaluation tool, completed by the senior leader in partnership with relevant colleagues.  The qualitative strand comprised semi-structured interviews with lead teachers and small-group interviews with Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils in six selected schools.  The convenience sample comprised three primary and three post-primary schools.  They represented the two main management types in Northern Ireland, Catholic maintained and Controlled (mainly Protestant), as well as integrated schools that educate together Catholic and Protestant pupils and those of other religions and none (currently some 7 percent of the school-going population).  A research team at Ulster University was commissioned to compile the research as a small scale longitudinal study for the duration of the programme to monitor progress in building teacher confidence to address global issues in the classroom, implement a whole school approach and develop global learning pupil outcomes.  

            In September 2015, the research team produced their first report (CGE and UU, 2015a, b) which included an analysis of the self-evaluation tool, lead teacher questionnaire, and pupil and teacher interviews. A total of 59 schools participated in the GLP training in year one and a very positive 71.1 percent (39) completed the self-evaluation tool with an even higher 81.35 percent (49) response rate for the lead teacher questionnaire.  Figure 4 outlines the various stages of progression for schools toward a whole school approach to global learning.  In the self-evaluation tool, schools were invited to identify their current level of involvement in global learning using six criteria, which in ascending order were: ‘non engaged’, ‘early-engaging’, ‘defining’, ‘developing’, ‘expanding’, and ‘embedding’.  These criteria were then applied to key elements of curriculum learning and teaching, effective leadership, community connections and school awards. 

Year one findings

Unsurprisingly, given that schools were beginning their journey toward a whole school approach, a majority designated themselves as ‘non-engaged’ or ‘early engaging’ both in the self-evaluation tool and lead teacher questionnaire.  However, the year one report represents a useful baseline from which to measure progress in years 2 and 3 of the project.  Importantly, it suggests that post-training, teachers are already experiencing ‘positive impacts on practice’ including: ‘greater awareness of the meaning of GL (global learning); recognising the need for more specific planning for GL; and a greater sense of responsibility by lead teachers in their own role’ (CGE and UU, 2015a: 7).  The report additionally found that:

“Post-training, some teachers seem to have progressed in their understanding of the different elements of the GLP in terms of both knowledge and the need for personal and community engagement. Additionally, there was a greater recognition of the complexity and inter-connectedness of the concepts and issues” (CGE and UU, 2015b: 31).

            The baseline pupil interviews, both primary and post-primary, revealed evidence of a ‘sense of fairness’ and ‘desire to help others’ albeit ‘from a charity perspective’ (CGE and UU, 2015a: 15).  Equally positively, the lead teacher interviews ‘demonstrated a shift in the Lead Teachers’ thinking from charity-based solutions before the training to solutions based on collective responsibility and education after the training’ (ibid).  One of the challenges confronting the development sector as a whole at present is to alter public attitudes from short-term, funding-driven solutions to global poverty toward longer-term, policy- and activist-driven responses that address the underlying causes of inequality and injustice (Darnton and Kirk, 2011).  As the GLP research suggests:

“there is very striking evidence from the children’s extracts of the impact of television and wider media advertising by development charities, especially in relation to soliciting monetary donations to support the provision of potable water supplies in Africa” (CGE and UU, 2015b: 32-33).

            The research also identified some barriers encountered when attempting to introduce a whole school approach to developing global learning.  These included a lack of time to develop lesson plans and cross-curricular activities; persuading colleagues from non-traditional subject areas to engage with global learning; some colleagues perceiving global learning to be an ‘add-on’ to the curriculum rather than seeing it as an integral part; the formal education system’s prioritisation of literacy and numeracy; and identifying suitable resources that support classroom practice (CGE and UU, 2015a: 9).

Figure 4. ‘Stages of Progression toward a Whole School Approach’ (CGE, 2015: 15)

Lead teacher interviews

The one-to-one interviews showed an immediate impact on their practice as an outcome of the training.  For example, five of the six lead teachers spoke of definite progression in the global understanding of their pupils who ‘now had a broader and clearer perception of their own place in the world, of the implications for them of events elsewhere, and of the rights they themselves have that are denied to others’ (CGE and UU, 2015b: 16).  Post-primary teachers ‘agreed that their delivery of GL extended pupils’ outlook and developed empathy’ and once ‘awakened, it generated a sense of reality and genuine concern’ (ibid: 17).   The qualitative data further suggested that support from school management made a real difference in ensuring take-up of global learning by colleagues.  As one teacher said:

“I have contacted some individual colleagues who work in different departments … and they were able to give me an idea of what they already cover ... Also, (the Vice-Principal) has been very supportive, and was able to give me a much wider view of what’s done, than I would ever have been aware of previously … very positive because she very much knows how important Global Learning is, and wants to encourage it” (ibid: 19). 

Clearly, it is critical that lead teachers receive support from senior leadership teams to move global learning into new areas of practice not traditionally associated with it.

            In summary, the research showed that most schools that had received the training designated themselves as ‘early engaging’ on the stages of progression toward a whole school approach as they were at the base camp of their journey.  However, the more illustrative lead teacher interviews revealed an immediate impact in shifting teachers and pupils alike toward a more critical questioning of the causes of global poverty and away from more traditional charity-driven responses.  Teachers expressed high levels of satisfaction with the resource supports offered by the GLP.  For example, 30 out of 39 teachers ‘were highly positive about the GL Guidance Document’ with eleven stating that the document helped them ‘to focus on their present position within global learning’ (CGE and UU, 2015a: 6).  The project website and exemplar toolkit of activities on global learning were in development in year one of the project and will be assessed in subsequent reports.  A final research report in year three of the programme will provide analysis of year-on-year progress made in schools toward adopting a whole school approach.

GLP and the global education sector

One of the positive outcomes already registered by the GLP, even in its earliest stages of delivery, has been its revitalising effect on the global education sector in the north of Ireland.  This sector has endured a sustained period of policy change and funding cuts since the publication of a Review of using aid funds in the UK to promote awareness of global poverty (COI, 2011).  Long-standing global education grant schemes in the UK were withdrawn following the review which was not convinced that it ‘contributes to a reduction in global poverty’ (COI, 2011: 5).  However, the review did find that ‘there have been notable successes with the integration of the global dimension into the school curriculum’ and concluded that ‘The formal education sector and media are key channels to reaching the UK public’ (ibid: 34).  It was on this basis that DfID formulated plans for the GLP in order to maximise public awareness of global issues in the UK.

            Although focused only on global education in the formal education sector, the GLP has drawn educators from local development organisations into the delivery of teacher training and has created new teaching and communication tools that support global education practice.  Moreover, the programme has supported advocacy activities aimed at widening support for global learning in the statutory education sector including the Education Committee in the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont.  The GLP also has a Programme Management Group (PMG) comprising representatives from a range of key statutory bodies in Northern Ireland including the Department of Education (DE) and Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA).  The PMG plays an important role in advising the GLP staff on promotions, advocacy, communications and delivery.  It also elevates support for, and awareness of, global education practice within the formal sector in an attempt to persuade more schools and teachers to embrace the services offered by the GLP.  The programme has, therefore, both enhanced global learning practice in schools but, also, served as a catalyst for collaborative training delivery by DE providers.


The Global Learning Programme has provided teachers at Key Stages 2 and 3 in Northern Ireland with training and resources to strengthen their classroom practice in global learning.  This ambitious programme aims to support a whole school approach to global learning that transcends development education delivery through traditional subject silos and seeks to bring a global perspective across the full spectrum of curricular programmes and subjects.  The quantitative research results presented here show that most schools are at an ‘early-engaging’ stage on the progression ladder toward adopting a whole school approach after just one year’s participation in the GLP.  However, qualitative feedback from schools indicates that the training is already bearing fruit in moving teachers away from charitable concepts of development toward deeper, more critical forms of inquiry into the underlying causes of local and global inequality and injustice. 

            Some 22 percent of all schools in the north have already undertaken the GLP training which amounts to 233 schools or 43 percent of the targeted 538 to be reached over its three-year lifespan.  This total reflects a strong and burgeoning interest in global issues in primary and post-primary schools.  Nevertheless, it is anticipated that concerted communication efforts will be needed going forward to maintain the already impressive level of school take-up of the training.  The longitudinal research study by Ulster University will afford opportunities in the final year of the GLP to measure the extent to which the programme has supported whole school practice in global learning.  However, the initial findings are positive and encouraging in reflecting the programme’s capacity to enhance global learning practice in the statutory and non-governmental sectors in Northern Ireland.


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Stephen McCloskey is Director of the Centre for Global Education and editor of Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review, a bi-annual, open access journal available at: www.developmenteducationreview.com. He is editor (with Gerard McCann) of From the Local to the Global: Key Issues in Development Studies (Pluto Press, 2015).

McCloskey, S (2016) ‘Education for Social Change: The Global Learning Programme in the North of Ireland’, Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 23, Autumn, pp. 139-161.