Whose world?

A study of climate change, global warming, who and what it affects, and what we can do about it. Case study submitted by Caroline Picking, Class teacher and International Coordinator at St Cedd’s School.

St Cedd's Fair Trade posters and display
St Cedd’s Fair Trade posters and display

St Cedd’s School in Chelmsford, Essex and Indraprathsa World School in Delhi, India have had a successful partnership for three years now. We have been awarded the Global Curriculum Project grant and the Reciprocal Visit grant from DFID through the British Council. Teachers from both schools have visited each other’s classrooms, including privately funded trips. All six Year 5 and 6 classes at St Cedd’s have a weekly lesson in global citizenship called International Studies. Our schools believe a global dimension is vital.

We began discussions during our Reciprocal Visit last year. Our “Best out of waste” topic worked really well during the visit, so we decided to develop that project. The natural global step forward was to establish the implications for not reducing, reusing and recycling, so we decided on a “Global warming” topic called “Whose world?”.

Pupils from Indraprathsa school showing what they've made
Pupils from Indraprathsa school showing what they’ve made

UK pupils missed school due to snow, Indian pupils due to cold weather (by their standards) and monsoon flooding, so they had immediate understanding of climate problems affecting them and their communities. This could then lead into cross curricular activities, which we felt were vital to encourage. For example, we wanted to create a school song about nature in our countries with lyrics and music written jointly via computer systems which both schools have access to. We felt we could share lesson plans via PowerPoints and worksheets. Students’ work could be shared in a variety of ways, eg: questionnaires, surveys, letters, graphs.

The UK students feel very strongly about having their voice heard – they want to write to the press, the Government and invite MPs to discuss what they see as global injustices. They felt that global warming affects poorer countries first, but as students in both schools are reasonably affluent, it is up to us all to act on climate change – for example, designing posters, or raising awareness at home. Indian children are better placed to explore how extremes of climate change may affect poorer people, and they could teach the UK children about this impact. Together we can achieve social justice.

Additionally, we wanted to extend our story book swapping after the success of a recent joint storybook project. We planned to exchange books and book reviews and encourage a love of reading and creative writing.

Pupils at St Cedd's make bags to sell at Christmas fair
Pupils at St Cedd’s make bags to sell at Christmas fair

Initially, we exchanged factual information about how climate change has affected people we know. Then, we looked at the impact on resources – water and factors affecting school attendance (eg: heavy snow in the UK, monsoon rain in India.) We needed to understand the climate of both countries first. Similarities and differences between countries were then examined.

Next, we tried to establish the fairness of the situation, eg: can everyone in both countries access water equally? Or get to school? Is this fair? Is one section of the community disadvantaged more? Why? How do we overcome problems? In the UK we found it was children in outlying villages who couldn’t get to school; in India, it was people living in areas where flooding occurred. All UK children accessed water; poorer Indian children used tankers and other methods. Some suggestions were to access school work on computer at home; to prioritise water being made available for all homes; improve access to food during unstable periods of weather. All children looked at the issue in a wider context than their own, and appreciated the inequalities in the world.

Finally, we explored the consequences and solutions: how can we act to make our voices heard and to minimise the effects of this situation? Children explored the causes of global warming and climate change and considered how to encourage others to minimise the effects. For example, they all made posters encouraging less wasteful consumption (turn off lights, etc) and approached the Headteachers to recommend energy saving measures in their schools.

Indraprathsa children weaving bags from waste paper
Indraprathsa children weaving bags from waste paper

Realising it was poor people in both countries who suffered most, the children then swapped ideas about why they believed poverty occurred in their countries, and offered some solutions to reduce inequalities. This led to a great deal of interest about what we two schools could do to help tackle inequalities and injustices.

St Cedd’s School contacted Britivic, a local drinks manufacturer, who came in to discuss their Fair Trade policies with us… and promised to try to make a partially Fair Trade drink. The children were delighted by this success so they contacted their local MP and Minister for Health, Simon Burns, who agreed to come in and discuss the Government’s policy on poverty at home and abroad with Years 5 and 6. We hope he passed our suggestions on!

The whole of Year 5 wrote to Barack Obama when we realised USA was one of only two countries which haven’t signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Indraprathsa pupils performed plays about global warming in regional drama competitions. They also suggested both schools use recycled materials to make bags and other useful items and each hold a sale to raise money for a slum school and point out the advantages of recycling. Both schools did this and made lots of money to benefit others.

Terry the red squirrel heads off on an exchange with Indira the tiger - two endangered animals joining together to fight global warming.
Terry the red squirrel heads off on an exchange with Indira the tiger – two endangered animals joining together to fight global warming.

Currently, we are writing a school song between us and a second story book for younger children called “Jab We Met” about two teddy bears we’ve exchanged who are fighting global warming together. We write a page each every day, then email it across the miles before finally illustrating it. (We sent our first book to the Queen who wrote back to tell us how much she enjoyed it!) We’ve also written poetry and articles for newspapers.

We love working together and learning from each other! As Louisa (age 10) wrote, “Every child deserves to be listened to. Together we can change the world.”

Find out more

St Cedd’s School: Visit St Cedd’s School website

Indraprathsa World School: Visit the Indraprathsa World School website

Teaching resources: Find teaching resources relating to Climate Change

School links: For further information about issues to consider and organisations to contact, visit our School Links & Partnerships page.

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