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What is the Global Dimension?

(Based on Developing the global dimension in the school curriculum DFID, DfES, et al, 2005 – you can download a copy here)


Education plays a vital role in helping children and young people recognise their contribution and responsibilities as citizens of this global community and equipping them with the skills to make informed decisions and take responsible actions. Including the global dimension in teaching means that links can be made between local and global issues. It also means that young people are given opportunities to:

  • Critically examine their own values and attitudes;
  • Appreciate the similarities between peoples everywhere, and value diversity;
  • Understand the global context of their local lives;
  • And develop skills that will enable them to combat injustice, prejudice and discrimination.

Such knowledge, skills and understanding enable young people to make informed decisions about playing an active role in the global community.

The global dimension can inform the whole school ethos, leading to a school that is inclusive, just and democratic and promotes social and environmental responsibility, respect and co-operation.

The 8 Key Concepts of the Global Dimension in Education 

(Based on Developing the global dimension in the school curriculum DFID, DfES, et al, 2005 – you can download a copy here)

Underlying the idea of the global dimension to the curriculum are 8 key concepts see http://www.globaldimension.org.uk/default.aspx?id=70).  The 8 concepts provide a conceptual framework for thinking about and building them into the curriculum.  ‘Global citizenship’ appears as one of the 8 concepts, however, each of the concepts can be related to the programme for study for National Curriculum Citizenship and can also be promoted through other subjects.


Global citizenship

Gaining the knowledge, skills and understanding of concepts and institutions necessary to become informed, active, responsible citizens.

  • developing skills to evaluate information and different points of view on global issues through the media and other sources
  • learning about institutions, declarations and conventions and the role of groups, NGOs and governments in global issues
  • developing understanding of how and where key decisions are made
  • appreciating that young people’s views and concerns matter and are listened to; and how to take responsible action that can influence and affect global issues
  • appreciating the global context of local and national issues and decisions at a personal and societal level understanding the roles of language, place, arts, religion in own and others’ identity


Understanding and respecting differences and relating these to our common humanity.

  • appreciating similarities and differences around the world in the context of universal human rights
  • understanding the importance of respecting differences in culture, customs and
  • traditions and how societies are organised and governed
  • developing a sense of awe at the variety of peoples and environments around the world
  • valuing biodiversity
  • understanding the impact of the environment on cultures, economies and societies
  • appreciating diverse perspectives on global issues and how identities affect opinions and perspectives
  • understanding the nature of prejudice and discrimination and how they can be challenged and combated

Human rights

Knowing about human rights including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • valuing our common humanity, the meaning of universal human rights
  • understanding rights and responsibilities in a global context and the interrelationship between the global and the local
  • understanding that there are competing rights and responsibilities in different situations and knowing some ways in which human rights are being denied and claimed locally and globally
  • understanding human rights as a framework for challenging inequalities and prejudice such as racism
  • knowing about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European declaration on Human Rights Act in UK law
  • understanding the universality and indivisibility of human rights


Understanding how people, places, economies and environments are all inextricably interrelated, and that choices and events have repercussions on a global scale.

  • understanding the impact of globalisation and that choices made have consequences at different levels, from personal to global
  • appreciating the links between the lives of others and children and young people’s own lives
  • understanding the influence that diverse cultures and ideas (political, social, religious,
  • economic, legal, technological and scientific) have on each other and appreciating the
  • complexity of interdependence
  • understanding how the world is a global community and what it means to be a citizen
  • understanding how actions, choices and decisions taken in the UK can impact positively or negatively on the quality of life of people in other countries

Conflict resolution

Understanding the nature of conflicts, their impact on development and why there is a need for their resolution and the promotion of harmony.

  • knowing about different examples of conflict locally, nationally and internationally and different ways to resolve them
  • understanding that there are choices and consequences for others in conflict situations
  • understanding the importance of dialogue, tolerance, respect and empathy
  • developing skills of communication, advocacy, negotiation, compromise and collaboration
  • recognising conflict can act as a potentially creative process
  • understanding some of the forms racism takes and how to respond to them
  • understanding conflicts can impact on people, places and environments locally and globally

Social justice

Understanding the importance of social justice as an element in both sustainable development and the improved welfare of all people.

  • valuing social justice and understanding the importance of it for ensuring equality, justice and fairness for all within and between societies
  • recognising the impact of unequal power and access to resources
  • appreciating that actions have both intended and unintended consequences on people’s lives and appreciating the importance of informed choices
  • developing the motivation and commitment to take action that will contribute to about a more just world
  • challenging racism and other forms of discrimination, inequality and injustice
  • understanding and valuing equal opportunities
  • understanding how past injustices affect contemporary local and global politics

Values and perceptions

Developing a critical evaluation of representations of global issues and an appreciation of the effect these have on people’s attitudes and values.

  • understanding that people have different values, attitudes and perceptions
  • understanding the importance and value of Human Rights
  • developing multiple perspectives and new ways of seeing events, issues, problems and opinions
  • questioning and challenging assumptions and perceptions
  • understanding the power of the media in influencing perceptions, choices and lifestyles understanding that the values people hold shape their actions
  • using different issues, events and problems to explore children and young people’s own values and perceptions as well as those of others

Sustainable development

Understanding the need to maintain and improve the quality of life now without damaging the planet for future generations.

  • recognising that some of the earth’s resources are finite and therefore must be used responsibly by each of us
  • understanding the interconnections between the social, economic and environmental spheres
  • considering probable and preferable futures and how to achieve the latter
  • appreciating that economic development is only one aspect of quality of life
  • understanding that exclusion and inequality hinder sustainable development for all
  • respecting each other
  • appreciating the importance of sustainable resource use – rethink, reduce, repair, re-use, recycle - and obtaining materials from sustainably managed sources.


The National Curriculum & the Northern Ireland Curriculum


The National Curriculum includes the global dimension in both the overarching statement about the values, purposes and aims of the curriculum and within specific subjects - see http://www.globaldimension.org.uk/default.aspx?id=70   


The revised Northern Ireland Curriculum aims to ‘empower young people to make informed and responsible decisions throughout their lives’.  Its main objectives are to develop the young person as a contributor to society through citizenship, cultural understanding and ethical awareness and to develop the young person as a contributor to the economy and environment through economic awareness and education for sustainable development http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/.


Educational Context


The main resource for schools in Northern Ireland supporting the global dimension is 'Local and Global Citizenship - a resource for post-primary schools' issued by CCEA in 2003 (for most recent guidance see here). It identifies the following key themes which are to be addressed in local, national, European and global contexts:

Diversity and inclusion: Young people investigate the concepts of diversity and inclusion. Young people are given opportunities to consider the range and extent of diversity in societies locally and globally and to identify the challenges and opportunities which diversity and inclusion present.

Equality and Justice: Young people investigate the concepts of equality and social justice. Opportunities are provided to help young people understand that society needs to safeguard individual and collective rights and ensure that everyone is treated equally and fairly.

Democracy and Active Participation: Young people investigate the concepts of democracy and active participation. Opportunities are provided for young people to understand how to participate in and to influence democratic processes and to be aware of some key democratic institutions, and their role in promoting inclusion, justice and democracy.

Human Rights and Social Responsibility: Underlying all of the above concepts are the principles of human rights and of social responsibility. Young people are given opportunities to understand that a globally accepted values-base exists within the various human rights international agreements and documents which outline the rights of the individual and of groups in democratic societies.

For further information and guidance on the revised Northern Ireland Curriculum at Primary level see here and here

Subject Guide

A copy of the full Programmes of Study can be found on the Department of Education's website at http://www.globaldimension.org.uk/default.aspx?id=74&nav=1

Professional Values and Certification

Teachers for the Twenty-First Century (based on Teaching: The Reflective Profession which can be downloaded here)

Those who work in education are expected to develop in our young people the attributes, skills and capacities that will enable them to prosper and succeed in the knowledge society, and at the same time, educators are expected to counteract and mitigate, to an extent, the problems emerging from an increasingly globalised economy. Being in the service of the individual and society situates the work of teachers within an ethical framework and the notion of a moral purpose as a defining feature of professional endeavour.

“Teachers, now, are potentially the single most important asset in the achievement of a democratically just learning society.” (Day, 2004)

Value-based Practice

The GTCNI’s Charter for Education  (download here) makes clear that education must contribute not just to the individual’s well-being but also to the common good. Given this, the teaching profession needs a framework of values. These are set out in the Council’s Code of Values and Professional Practice as:










Teaching the Global Dimension - Support from Teach Global


Teach Global (http://www.teachandlearn.net/teachglobal/index.html) has developed courses and resources to support primary and secondary teachers wanting to extend their teaching of the global dimension through all aspects of school life. There are 5 courses each with 6 units.  Two of the courses focus on managing the process and two look specifically at curriculum issues. The secondary course focuses on the teaching of geography. A fifth course presents ways of incorporating the global dimension into Science lessons for Key Stage 2-4 (pupil ages 8-16).


Teach Global is located within the Open University's TeachandLearn.net site, offering professional development.  Teach Global resources can be used in a variety of ways and follows the principles established for TeachandLearn.net.


You may wish to browse these areas, picking out issues, debates and resources of particular interest. You might want to work consecutively through the courses, trying out ideas and approaches that are set out in the activities. In planning the development of the sites a number of teachers said that they often worked with a colleague or a group of colleagues and that they found this the best form of professional development. A year team or a subject team could try out in parallel some of the activities and then share the evaluation and the experience together.


Course A: Managing the teaching of the global dimension across the primary curriculum http://www.teachandlearn.net/teachglobal/ca/u1/


Course B: Managing the teaching of the global dimension across the secondary curriculum.  http://www.teachandlearn.net/teachglobal/cb/u1/


Course C: Teaching and learning about the global dimension in the primary curriculum.   www.teachandlearn.net/teachglobal/cc/u3


Course D: Teaching and Learning about the global dimension in Secondary Geography.  http://www.teachandlearn.net/teachglobal/cd/u1/


Course E: Teaching and Learning about the global dimension in primary and secondary science. http://www.teachandlearn.net/teachglobal/ce/u1/