Reaching out through the Global Learning Programme

Head of Geography, Sandra Patterson was chosen as the Global Learning Lead Teacher for the school in 2015 having a particular interest in this area. She attended the two day CPD training in early 2016 followed by two follow up twilight sessions.

There is a strong history of collaboration throughout Ulidia. Global learning was already taking place in the school, particularly amongst the committed staff and pupils on the Eco and Fairtrade Teams. Teachers recognize how connected learning opportunities provided across more than one subject make learning more meaningful for pupils. Interconnected learning opportunities including a joint unit of work based upon energy had already been taught in collaboration with Maths, Science, Home Economics, PE and Geography.

The school’s participation in the Global Learning Programme, with its emphasis on whole school approaches has further extended this joined up approach.

Using the Self Evaluation Tool

Using the Self Evaluation Tool, provided by the GLP, enabled Sandra and her colleagues to have a good look at where they were and frame plans for future development. ‘It was very useful and helped us mesh all the good work we were already doing together’. Sandra says that completing the Self Evaluation tool ‘gave credibility to the process and gave me confidence having that document going to management to be able to say ‘we are confidently here but this is where we want to go.’ ‘It gave us clear ideas and helped us to plan the actions we wanted to take.’

Making Links with other schools

Sandra found the GL Training days ‘very useful and really enjoyed them especially the great networking aspect.’ She met up with Rachelle another post primary teacher also Head of Geography in a nearby school. The two have become friends, sharing examples of work e.g. Ideas for the World’s Largest Lesson. Sharing ideas with other teachers enabled Sandra to make professional contacts and ask, ‘Here we are, how can we help each other?’

Attending the GLP training also gave Sandra the confidence to contact neighboring Acorn Integrated Primary School looking for opportunities in relation to area based planning. Ulidia pupils now visit Acorn IPS every Friday afternoon to do work with P4 pupils, mentoring them to help them achieve their Green Flag – currently silver.

Eco Schools and Green Day

As an Eco Ambassador School they have already achieved four Green Flags, and have been identified as Ambassador Eco School for Global Perspective. Greenday is an annual day of whole school environmental action, which was devised by Sandra. During their annual Green Day event which takes place in June, students go off timetable participating in activities to promote care for the environment locally, nationally and globally. During the day year groups are mixed up and students participate in whole school environmental actions, learning and fun activities. This year Ulidia pupils were delighted to invite the pupils they were mentoring from neighbouring Acorn Integrated Primary along to enjoy the day too. Green Day saw guests from Eco-Schools, Trócaire, Ulster Wildlife, QUB and ISL Mallusk come along to talk to the pupils as well as a bird of prey display to round off the day. Pupils also completed litter picks and planting around the school and local community.

After the GLP training Sandra discussed the possibility of inviting students from other nearby schools in for Green Day celebrations. They are now considering the inclusion of the Trade Game as one of the whole year group activities.


Through their involvement in the Global Learning Programme Sandra became aware of the Fairtrade Schools Award which provided a framework to develop their existing work in Fairtrade further.

  • Teachers involved in LLW, Geography and HE teamed up to coordinate whole school activities on Fairtrade in an attempt to make it more meaningful for pupils. With the support of the existing Eco team, they carried out a whole school quiz on Fairtrade. All form tutors were given a PowerPoint presentation on Fairtrade to share with their form classes with a follow up quiz to test their understanding. Prizes of Fairtrade Maltesers were a good incentive! Form teachers were pleased to be involved and happy to have the session planned for them
  • The Eco Team hosted a Fairtrade stall at the Parent Council annual school Christmas fair. Using a small budget from the Eco team to purchase ingredients from the Fairtrade Foundation, pupils made gingerbread men and charged £1 a go for people to decorate these at the stand. Enthusiastic pupils then shared what they had learned, explaining the meaning and benefits of Fairtrade to their captive audience who were busy decorating. The purpose of this action was to increase community awareness.

International Links

The school had historically raised funds for their Kenya project which involved students travelling to Kenya to assist with the building of schools and drainage systems. The students experienced what life was like for young Kenyans the same age as themselves. Following a visit by National Eco School Coordinators they have developed a link with Fort Dauphin School in Anosy Region in Madagascar. They are now collaborating on a Young Reporters Project.  The school which is in Madagascar made videos and pupils are writing a joint article on the Sustainable Development Goal of Responsible Production and Consumption relating to cocoa. Students in Madagascar are looking at production end whilst those in Ulidia are looking at Fairtrade, consumption and recycling, incorporating their existing links with ISL recycling in Mallusk. This work provided pupils with opportunities to learn about their connections to the wider world and how these work. They could see how, as consumers, they could impact on the lives of others and that through making more informed responsible choices in what they buy they could influence positive change. It gave pupils the chance to advocate for the rights of others and recognize the power they had to speak out.

The article involves work in literacy, numeracy and ICT skills such as webcam skills, planning web conferencing etc.

One of Sandra’s colleagues, Head of Year 10 who is very enthusiastic about global learning, worked with her Y10 to look at the contrasting water supplies in NI and Madagascar. They were learning about the appropriate technologies available and were keen to do something practical.   They decided to raise money for the construction of a borehole well for a primary school, identified through their Eco school partner in Madagascar. Cautious about sending out the message out that everybody there is in need, they are keen to avoid stereotyping and aim to ensure more balanced messages about the benefits of sustainable technology. With a target amount of £1500 target 100 pupils have identified the need to raise £15 each. Some choose to give money directly; some donate clothes which will be sold on and some giving their time to sort the clothes.

Zero Waste School and business in the community

In March 2013 Ulidia Integrated College became the first school in Northern Ireland to achieve ‘Zero Waste’ status, sending none of their waste to landfill. Using segregated bins pupils were encouraged to sort litter at the point of disposal and although some minor contamination still occurs secondary sorting at the local ISL plant, coupled with composting ensures 0% of waste is being put to landfill. Working with ISL has been a positive experience and includes whole school and whole year group assemblies, opportunities to visit Recycling centre and education workshops informing pupils about recycling and where waste goes. This project also provided an opportunity for older sixth form pupils to be involved in the negotiation process, and gain skills for employment.

Integration Week 2016

For International Week the theme was ‘Harmony’ and culminated in a talent show with different cultures represented through music, dancing and foods from around the world. Sandra was particularly struck by an Irish-Indian dance mash up created and performed by two close friends. Not only did their performance reflect the true essence of the theme but by being comfortable enough to share with the rest of the school, it demonstrated the confidence the girls had in their own cultures.

Connecting pupils’ learning across a range of subject areas made a lot of sense for everyone; teachers benefited from shared planning and implementation and enjoyed working together. The pupils were motivated to learn and able to see the relevance and connections in what they were learning. It was an important part of that process to be able to see how knowledge gained in one area can connect to another and how similar skills are being developed and reinforced right across the curriculum.

Sandra hopes the school will work towards achieving further Fairtrade awards. They could study Fairtrade as the Global Perspective major topic for their Eco School Award whilst working towards achieving their Fairtrade status, hence hitting two awards with the same work. To do this they may consider doing some specific work for Fairtrade fortnight which usually takes place in February/March. E.g.

  • They could invite a Fairtrade producer in to the school to speak to the pupils directly
  • Host a Fairtrade break
  • Use their entrepreneurial skills to make something out of Fairtrade products to sell such as bunting from FT cotton or sweets/cakes from FT sugar and chocolate
  • They could compare Fairtrade mark to alternative standards such as Rainforest Alliance, Organic and
  • Invite the nearby primary school in to do teach the younger children about Fairtrade

For more information and ideas on teaching about Fairtrade, Fairtrade Fortnight, achieving Fairtrade status,  or booking speakers contact the  Fairtrade Foundation