Developing an international perspective into the curriculum at bentley high street primary school
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Developing an international perspective into the curriculum at Bentley High Street Primary School. Heather Morley and Jessica Ho. Our aims. To establish if misconceptions existed regarding other cultures. To challenge assumptions/stereotypes. To develop an international learning approach.

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Developing an international perspective into the curriculum at Bentley High Street Primary School

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Developing an international perspective into the curriculum at Bentley High Street Primary School

Heather Morley and Jessica Ho

Our aims...

  • To establish if misconceptions existed regarding other cultures.

  • To challenge assumptions/stereotypes.

  • To develop an international learning approach.

  • To develop a system of peer coaching.

  • To support an open minded approach to cross cultural studies.

  • To introduce the concept of global citizenship

Previous learning

Our Year 3 and 4 children had:

  • Been part of a thematic approach to teaching and learning which in turn offers many opportunities to allow a global dimension to be interwoven into the curriculum.

  • Celebrated fair trade fortnight with a number of activities in the class, competitions, fair trade tuck shop.

  • Children raised money and awareness of comic relief. Children considered similarities and differences between themselves and children ‘in need’ who live in Africa.

  • Access to after school club ‘My School, My Voice.’ Collaborative curriculum projects with a partner school in Tanzania (Y4).

  • Visits, assemblies, out-of-hours learning and bringing experts into the school.

What we did

  • Establish if misconceptions existed and give the children an opportunity to find this out for themselves.

  • Developed sequence of lessons (focus - developing understanding of judgements and where stereotypes originate).

  • Highlighted reflective practice, particularly on acknowledging similarities as well as differences.

  • Collaborative learning (group work and discussion).

  • Encouraged children and staff to share their experiences.

Initial assessment

  • We chose 5 countries for the children to research as part of our topic ‘You are what you Eat’ – France, India, Tanzania, Mexico and Italy.

  • The children were given an outline of each country, writing down what they knew about each one. This was scaffold giving the starting point such as: location, weather, food, people, jobs, transport, buildings etc…

  • They were then asked to summarise the comments from each country with a single sentence.

  • The results were very interesting!

The children had some astonishing views...


They have dirty water. They all eat snails. They eat grapes. They have no vehicles and ride bikes.


They eat takeaways. They are poor. Their homes are small and dirty.


Have no electricity. The people are starving hungry.

They eat mangos.


They wear funny hats. There are no black people.


They eat pizza. It is posh there.

Lesson Study:

“It’s posh, it must be French.”

“I put that food in France because its mingin’ – France have mingin’ stuff.”

“French people are really poor and drink dirty water and eat creatures.”

“In France I don’t think they have countryside.”

“They wear stripy jumpers.”

“They have a clock called Big Ben.”

“They eat rotten cheese!”

Lesson Study (2):


  • We asked the children to define these terms.

  • Children then reflected on why we have preconceived perceptions of people.

  • During the topic, children began to realise about the role of the media and how misconceptions can be assumed. They reflected about charity adverts and discussed shock tactics which enabled them to see how they had easily assumed these stereotypes.

  • Children discovered the power of the word ‘some.’ They observed how making general statements about people across huge areas was wrong and ill-informed.

Comic Relief – a single story?

Before the topic

  • The children found it difficult to find similarities between cultures.

  • They made generalisations about other cultures based on narrow media portrayal.

  • They found it difficult to relate to the everyday lives of children in the other cultures e.g. assuming everyone in India was poor and lived in wooden houses.

  • They assumed that they were very knowledgeable about the cultures that we looked at making confident statements.

  • They judged everything by appearance.

During the topic

  • As the topic progressed the children developed an open minded approach to other cultures.

  • They realised that there were many similarities as well as differences.

  • They understood the term stereotype.

  • They recognised that the media manipulates us all.

  • Some children stopped making sweeping generalisations and even corrected other children. However, other children still found it difficult to see different viewpoints and were convinced their view was right.

After the project

We collected children’s views to assess the impact of the global learning activities.

“ I used to think that when I saw children from Africa on TV, that they all live like this. Now, I know that sometimes comic relief makes it look like everyone has the same life but I know that some people are rich and some are poor”.

Holly, Year 4

“ When I was working with George he kept saying that everyone in France eats snails and frogs legs. That’s like saying everyone in England eats fish and chips – but I hate fish! I told him to say some people.”

Jakey, Year 3

Target: I need to remember not to judge children in other countries just cos of how they live.

Megan, Year 4

What we learned

  • We may have contributed to some of the children’s stereotypes through fundraising days such as Red Nose Day. We have learned to remember to put things into perspective when talking about countries / cultures.

  • To always focus on similarities as well as differences.

  • We enjoyed taking part in Peer Coaching. It enabled us to feel confident in what we were doing and helped us to share good practice between colleagues.

  • Observing each other’s good practice in a supportive way.

  • Even though the children have participated in topic learning about other cultures, they still held inaccurate existing ideas about them ( had we promoted cultural misunderstanding and stereotypes?)

  • There is a need to develop international learning across the school.

What we have done

  • The concept of international learning has been discussed at SLT level and they have reviewed the findings of our pilot work.

  • We have delivered a staff meeting to share our findings. The teachers then took some of the resources and implemented activities into their lessons the following week. Resources were shared on server for all staff to access.

  • We have planned a Global History day as a school – To bring together all the skills and knowledge they have gained and applying them confidently.

  • We applied for a grant from the British Council which was awarded. A teacher from our school and a teacher from our partnership school in Tanzania will partake in an exchange to create projects to further embed internationalised learning into the curriculum.

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