Latymer Upper’s Global Goals Course
Posted: 31 July 2018
The Global Goals Course at Latymer Upper School ties into the school’s strategic aim to help pupils become active global citizens. The students identify a UN goal to research and devise a plan to realise this goal. Their resulting project is celebrated at a ‘Global Goals Festival’.
Author and position: Andrew Matthews, Deputy Head and Round Square Rep
School: Latymer Upper School
We have a strategic aim to help all our pupils become active global citizens (it is part of our Learn Profile) and have been looking for ways to encourage and develop this. We also wanted to give our students more opportunities to develop those ‘21st century’ skills such as teamwork, independent research, problem-solving, and communication skills. We already had a distinctive, Latymer-designed and externally recognised (GCSE equivalent) World Perspectives course for our 14-16 year-olds that has been highly successful, and were looking for ways to extend provision to more junior years with a slightly different slant. In thinking through what might prove a stimulating and useful framework for the course we decided to use the 17 UN Sustainability Goals.
I established a working group of interested teachers to develop the year-long programme and proposals were discussed with a group of pupils (those involved in helping us in our early Round Square days). This planning took place during the academic year 2015-2016 and the programme (90 minutes per 10 days for seven groups of 24 students) was included in the curriculum/timetable plan for 2016-17. The course ambition and outline was presented to parents at a curriculum evening.
The subject matter is aspects of the UN 17 Sustainability Goals
- Teacher as Facilitator rather than Director.
- Teacher Collaboration – to model effective team-working.
- Development in pupils of commitment to sustainability.
- The emphasis is on process rather than outcome.
- Pupils as independent learners – The first term is about helping children to become independent learners by developing key research, information literacy and communication skills.
- Pupils are allowed to make mistakes – Fundamentally this is a course in which pupils can (and possibly should) get things wrong and make mistakes – the key is to help them to cope with ‘failure’ and encourage them to be reflective and to learn from the experience
- Pupils as collaborators – Second/Third terms are about pupils learning how to work as a team to achieve an objective. This requires them to learn and develop some key relevant skills and dispositions
- Pupils as problem-solvers – The course is really about identifying and researching problems and then seeking practical and well-thought through solutions. This is certainly the focus of the second and third terms.
- Pupils as actors – The collaborative project requires pupils to end up by doing something – i.e. to help implement the ‘solution’ to the problem they have identified.
- Pupils as communicators – Both the independent project and the collaborative project will require the development of effective communication skills – written and/or visual and/or oral and/or multi-media/digital.
- Outline and Rationale of Course
- Everyone can make a difference: Case Studies
- Individuals Research a Goal or aspect of a Goal and communicate results
- Investigation/Research skills/Communication/Learning Journal
Terms 2 and 3:
- Collaborative projects
- Focused on an aspect of a Goal
- Problem-solving: What Can we do?
- Project plan and implementation
- Global Goals Festival: Communication to parents, staff, guests
- The programme ends with a Global Goals Festival when parents, pupils, guests and staff have a chance to see the 40 plus projects and talk to the pupils about their experience.
- Winning SMT support – made easier by the fact that I sit on SMT – but SMT support is clearly critical.
- Finding space in the curriculum – but a coincident (strategic) reorganisation of the curriculum for this year group created the necessary space.
- Finding enthusiastic staff willing to embrace the vision – Less of an obstacle because of the experience of World Perspectives, the thrust of the school’s strategic plan, and the opportunity for adventurous teaching but it needs teachers willing to take risks and operate outside their comfort zone.
- Potential pupil and parent resistance (Global Goals is not a ‘proper subject’, why do we have to study it – shouldn’t it be voluntary) – Concerns and scepticism was overcome in the end by majority support and the actual positive experience of the programme.
- Staff objection (e.g. why give space to this? We need more time for Maths/Science/Languages etc…). – This objection was largely muted, not least because the programme is in line with the school’s strategy which had staff buy-in.
Pupils have a chance to explore and develop their own ideas and learning; the chance to engage in a creative problem-solving project and develop skills of research, team-work, risk-taking, problem-solving, and communication, whilst ‘making a difference’. When parents came to the Global Goals exhibition, it was clear that they were proud of their children and their efforts.
As many projects focused on helping the local community – be it school, pre-school, or their neighbourhood – the local community also benefitted from the programme.
Staff received real professional development due to the collaborative nature of the programme and the adventurous teaching involved.
Initiatives such as these also help our reputation and profile and contributed to the school winning the TES School of the Year in 2018.
The nature of the course is dynamic and we seek to improve each year. We hope to involve parents, local businesses, and charities more in our work, and consider ways that students can take the best projects forward after the programme ends. We are also looking for opportunities for international collaboration and participation in international efforts sponsored by RS schools, such as Project 2050
- SMT support, teacher enthusiasm and risk-taking are essential.
- Advertise the programme and promote it to pupils and parents.
- It is worth taking the time to do careful and thorough planning – Establish how the teacher collaboration is to work and involve students in the planning.