Global Citizens – Keeping Cokethorpe Connected

Feb 17, 2022

‘No man is an island,
Entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.’
John Donne

We spoke to Teacher of English Ms Jackson about her role as the Head of International Affairs and the importance of raising and being global citizens.

Can you tell us about the purpose of your role as the Head of International Affairs?
Essentially, the crux of my role is to encourage staff and pupils to think about what it means to be globally aware and to become better global citizens. This is a term that needs definition, but our strategy 2021-2026 document states clearly that, as a School, we are committed to producing students who are globally aware and who have the skills to be able to perform in a world with global connections.

What do we mean by global citizens?
When we talk about global citizens, we want our pupils to understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views. We want them to interact with people from different cultures in an open way – politically, socially, through our historical narratives, through our experiences, and particularly our lived experiences.

How can we empower pupils to be better global citizens?
We want to encourage pupils to be more conscious of the affect that they can have on their world. Instilling a sense of ownership, to empower pupils to have the confidence to contribute to the dialogue on world issues. We want them to feel that they have a voice and encourage an understanding of how they can make themselves heard. We want pupils to feel that their opinions are respected and that they can bring about change. It can be difficult for young people because they do not have the vote – we want to give them a medium through which to express themselves. So we are putting activities, lessons and experiences together that encourage that sense of leadership.

We also aim to develop in our pupils a sense of empathy about the world that they inhabit. It centres around the idea of a shared experience – thinking about how their daily behaviour affects other people. If pupils can learn this within the School grounds, they can understand it on a much wider level.

How do we incorporate this into the curriculum?
There are the pastoral elements which we have already spoken about, but global citizenship is something not just to be taught as a subject in isolation, but embedded throughout subjects in the curriculum. It can be taught through Design Technology, English, studying narratives through History, studying Politics, World stories or Geography.

Once we start to give pupils the skills and knowledge within lessons, we also want this to extend to the space between lessons. For example, extended programmes of AOBs; we have just started Amnesty International as an AOB for the first time. We are also focussing on the skills of public speaking and debating.

It is interesting that in talking about the way it connects with the pastoral aspects and curriculum, you have highlighted many of the leadership traits of the School. How do you think they link together?
It is intrinsically tied up with the leadership traits, particularly empathy and responsibility that we have already highlighted. Leadership itself is a really key point in raising global citizens. We aim to encourage a greater understanding of global issues and current affairs to give pupils the knowledge to become future leaders.

Many of the traits of global citizenship are also simply traits of humanity, of what it means to be a good person. It is impossible to separate empathy and morality from global citizenship. If we start to think about big issues such as social justice and peace, we can invite those into the curriculum more meaningfully.

Global Awareness is important not only for understanding different cultures and people, but also the environment. How does it factor?
The elements of environmentalism – the idea of connecting with the land and water – are extremely important in becoming globally aware. At Cokethorpe, we are blessed with fantastic grounds, with so much land around the School and access to the river. The superb environment presents so many wonderful opportunities for the pupils to connect with the land. If you cannot appreciate the environment here, you cannot begin to understand the importance of the wider environment.

What is happening around us in terms of climate damage is affecting all of us. Things that are happening thousands of miles away is directly impacting on us in the environment. For example, the war in Ukraine is impacting directly on us in terms of food chains. 

Whilst we are talking about connecting with other places and other environments, can you tell us about the School’s incredible fundraising efforts for Ukraine?
That was very much a response based project – responding to a country in trouble. It gave the opportunity not just for fundraising but, as importantly, for our pupils to think about a world, and people, beyond their own. The process of fundraising was also a process of developing empathy and appreciation of different lives and considering the very difficult issues that are unfolding right now. It was a situation where the whole School came together as a community and formed an incredibly impressive group response. A response  from the pupils and staff, and on the wider scale, parents and family. We worked directly with the Red Cross in the fundraising campaign, and also with the collection through RAF Brize Norton, so that we only collected exactly what was requested.

Along with the fundraising walk and the collection of supplies which were taken to Brize Norton to be distributed in Ukraine, there were also other fundraising events that were driven by the pupils themselves.
We had many individual pupil responses, and there were certainly many pupils that went above and beyond. It demonstrated that leadership and empathy we have talked about. By taking ownership, their individual action can make a contribution. It reinforces the idea that change starts with the individual.

We started the year with the ‘Crossing Borders’ week, encouraging pupils to be comfortable moving in unfamiliar environments and not to turn away from the unknown. You are about to hold an ‘International Week’. What are the aims of this week?
This focus week is being led departmentally, so it is an academic initiative. Departments have been asked to put together a series of either lessons, activities or lunchtime talks from staff and pupils under the ‘International banner’. The aim is to produce an anthology at the end of that week which represents our current thoughts. It provides an opportunity for our international staff and pupils to share perspectives, perhaps about their own countries. Some staff are speaking about politics and social narratives from different countries, and we are hoping to create a wonderful smorgasbord of photography, artwork, fiction and nonfiction representing an exploration of cultural diversity. I have worked in many schools across the world, but predominantly in South-East Asia as have many other staff. As a School, we have an incredible amount of international experience.

Finally, how would you like to see your area developing in the coming years?
I think public speaking is an area we could do a great deal to improve, embedding it much more strongly throughout what we do. Many of our pupils will speak in a class, but speaking in a whole assembly is another matter entirely. It would be great to see this progress so that pupils could attend an international conference and speak confidently. I would also love to progress this even further to see us developing international exchanges, both virtually and in reality.

Ms Jackson was speaking to Communications Officer, Mrs Williams.

Diane Jackson - Teacher of English - Global Citizens Keeping Cokethorpe Connected