Global Learning Programme

Positive approaches to diversity and difference

22 October marks the beginning of One World Week where, this year, communities across the UK are being invited to consider how we can be ‘good neighbours’ locally and globally. This is not just about being quiet and unobtrusive, it is also about countering xenophobia, extremism and hate.

In addition to the increase in acts of terrorism by those supporting so called ‘Islamic State’ and right-wing extremists, police figures show that racially or religiously motivated offences increased by up to 100% in the months following the Brexit vote in July 2016. Many teachers are concerned about the rise in racist language being used in schools and the fear and insecurity that many of their pupils are feeling, particularly those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. How can schools counter extremism and hate in all its forms and play their part in building bridges between communities?

Be aware of and challenge your own misconceptions

Ensure you are exposing your students to a variety of perspectives on the world, not just your own. Vanessa Andreotti and Lyn Mario T.M. de Souza have produced a useful handbook with activities to help you to be aware of and challenge your own perspective on the world:

Learning to read the world through other eyes

A sociology teacher in one of the GLP Expert Centres used the activity in this short film to help her students think about privilege and unequal opportunity.

Learn about the issues and be aware of the local organisations who can support those experiencing hate crime

The following resources can help:

A new website with information, videos and lesson plans on Islamophobia was launched on 6 September 2017:

The site, created by the DfE and the Home Office, offers links to quite a few resources on a range of hate crime themes. is a Leeds-based organisation that opened in 1995 as a service for victims of racial harassment. The project was established in direct response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Tell Mama supports victims of anti-Muslim hate and is a public service that measures and monitors anti-Muslim incidents. It also provides useful short videos for public information on the impact of hate crime in the UK. (See the short film at the bottom of the home page for more information).

SARI is a service user/community-oriented agency that provides support and advice to victims of hate, and promotes equality and good relations between people with protected characteristics, as defined by law, in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Dimensions and the PSHE Association have worked together on Key Stage 3 materials to tackle hate crime associated with learning disabilities and autism. Go to the Dimensions website, choose the ‘Best practice’ tab, and scroll down to see their publications.

Stonewall’s School Report 2017 is a short video that features students from Global Learning Programme Expert Centre, Ricard’s Lodge, reacting to quotes from the Stonewall report on homophobic bullying in schools. This is a useful starting point for addressing the issue in class.

Allsorts Youth Group and Brighton and Hove City Council have produced a ‘Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit’ to support trans, non-binary and gender-questioning children and young people in educational settings. Go to the Allsorts Youth Group home page and select ‘Resources’, and then the ‘Toolkits and Guides’ links.

Create opportunities to counter stereotypes of other people or communities

Refugee Week produces education resources, particularly the short films ‘I am me’, that are useful for challenging stereotypes and creating empathy for refugees and asylum seekers.

This free resource from UNICEF ‘In Search of Safety’ contains activities for primary and secondary schools to explore the issue of conflict and refugees using real-life stories of children forced to leave their homes.

Try this moving short film about building human connections between people with different experiences: Amnesty International Poland –Look beyond borders’ – the four-minute experiment.

Global Link Development Education Centre in Lancaster worked with European Partners to give a voice to asylum seekers and refugees through digital storytelling.

Understanding Islam: Challenging Islamophobia is a teaching resource for secondary school, Key Stages 3 and 4.

The book Questions: Muslims focuses on questions that young people and students ask about Muslims and Islam (for ages 11 to 16).

There are more ideas on challenging stereotypes here

Create a whole-school ethos that celebrates diversity and promotes equality, empathy and respect

Organisations such as Amnesty International, UNICEF, Equaliteach, Lifeworlds Learning and many Development Education Centres (DECs) are offering accredited courses and bespoke support, free to all schools registered on the Global Learning Programme, to help you develop a whole-school ethos that celebrates diversity and promotes equality, empathy and respect. View the courses and support available and filter by content focus/development of whole school ethos. Make sure you search both under dates and flexible courses to view all relevant providers.

Create a safe space for debating controversial issues in the classroom

More than ever before, educators need to build up the skills and confidence of their students to help young people make sense of today’s world, and to tackle controversial issues in the classroom. As well as developing young people’s knowledge of global issues, this can help them to see the world from a variety of perspectives and to respect the views of others. Find more guidance and teaching resources on this here.

Ensure students have access to good-quality information from trusted sources

The following news sources for children may be useful:

The Week Junior is a newspaper that explains the news and events in ways that children can understand.

Similarly, First News is an independently owned newspaper aimed at young people.

Ensure school policies promote equality and take a clear stand against all forms of prejudice

Read the official guidance from the Department of Education on the Equalities Act.

You can find useful links and resources from Angela Gluck and Robin Richardson on the Insted website.

Work with your local community to support events that celebrate diversity

One world week 2017 – 22 to 29 October 2017. This is a week of events to share understanding about some of the global issues that affect us all and to recognise we can all make a difference.

Refugee week – 18 to 24 June 2018, is the UK’s largest festival celebrating the contribution of refugees and promoting understanding of why people seek sanctuary.

The Great Get Together was inspired by the legacy of Jo Cox. The Great Get Together brought massive numbers of people together from different communities. Keep an eye out on social media for similar events next year #GreatGetTogether

Check out People United, a charity whose mission is to create a more kind and caring society through the arts.

A School of Sanctuary is a school that helps its students, staff and wider community understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary and to extend a welcome to everyone as equal, valued members of the school community. It is a school that is proud to be a place of safety and inclusion for all. Read about the experience of being a school of sanctuary from Global Learning Programme Expert Centre, St Nicholas of Tolentine RC Primary School, in Bristol.

There are many other global days and events throughout the year that you can use to celebrate diversity and counter hate. Get hold of a copy of a free global wall planner.