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Engaging with the wider world in primary schools in England: issues of discourse, pedagogy, and practice



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Mandra, Juljana 


The purpose of this study is to raise issues of curriculum ideology and educational aims influenced by global educational policymaking. The study focuses on the introduction of a global aspect to the school curriculum in primary schools in England, a shift driven by international organisations and endorsed on a worldwide scale as an essential element of 21st-century education. The study examines the pedagogical discourse surrounding global learning at a macro level and how this discourse is recontextualised in empirical practice by schools, teachers, and learners. Theoretically, the study draws upon Bernstein’s theory of pedagogical device, wherein educational knowledge is regarded as a manifestation of social power in the school curriculum. It also incorporates insights from literature on globalisation of education, cultural hegemony, and educational philosophy. The study embraces a pragmatic epistemological standpoint to educational research. Methodologically, it adopts a design-based approach, incorporating multiple and iterative cycles of data generation. Data was generated from all key stakeholders including schools, learners and educational materials published by international organisations. The research employed ethnographic methods comprising semi-structured interviews, video-stimulated reflective dialogues (VSRD), questionnaire, participatory research, and web-data collection. The study's findings indicate that, in contrast to stated educational aims, educational knowledge promoted by international organisations through global learning focuses on mere awareness of global problems and tends to perpetuate a stereotypical view of the world. In school settings, the findings suggest that schools, acknowledging the diversity within their local communities and the wider society, actively endeavor to integrate knowledge about the wider world into their curriculum. Consequently, they often draw on global learning educational materials. This often leads to controversial teaching and critical perception by learners. The insights gathered from learner participants suggest that learners play an active role in recontextualising educational knowledge about the wider world, frequently drawing on their own experiences, which, in turn, shape how they interact with pertinent educational knowledge.





Kershner, Ruth


globalisation of education, school curriculum, global learning, international organisations, educational discourse


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge