Pupils’ understanding of global issues improves

Pupils in primary and secondary schools now have an age-appropriate understanding of global issues and of sustainability according to a report published today by Estyn.

Since a baseline report was published by Estyn in 2006, inspectors found that there has been an improvement in pupils’ understanding of concepts of global citizenship, such as wealth and poverty, health, and choices and decisions.

The report, ESDGC: Progress in education for sustainable development and global citizenship, focuses on seven themes that relate to a range of issues and concepts:

  • the natural environment;
  • consumption and waste;
  • climate change for sustainability;
  • wealth and poverty;
  • identity and culture;
  • choices and decisions; and
  • health for global citizenship.

Ann Keane, Chief Inspector, says,

“Schools play a key role in promoting social inclusion, aiding integration and ensuring that the next generation is one of tolerant, globally-minded individuals. It is heartening to see that there has been improvement and that we are on track in the majority of primary and secondary schools that we visited.


“Looking after the environment, tackling poverty, ensuring diversity and biodiversity and supporting people to live healthy lives are values that are being embedded throughout Welsh schools. I would now like to see schools improving pupils’ understanding of more complex issues such as identity and culture.


“I would encourage schools to download the report and study the case studies of best practice it includes.”

The report found that few pupils in secondary schools have a good understanding of more complex concepts, such as the link between culture, faith and individual values and beliefs although learners in schools with a high proportion of ethnic minority pupils generally have a better understanding of the effect of discrimination and prejudice than learners in other schools.

Pupils in primary and secondary schools now generally understand the concepts of wealth and poverty. Almost all pupils understand the effects of inequality and the impact of charity. Ysgol y Berllan Deg in Cardiff has identified the importance of ESDGC and co-ordinates its seven themes across the curriculum. Close links with schools in Lesotho and Patagonia have encouraged pupils to learn about life in different parts of the world. Further case studies throughout the report illustrate best practice strategies.

In most of the schools visited, leaders have a clear vision for promoting ESDGC. Leaders recognised how sustainable development and global citizenship affect the ethos of school life and what that means for staff and pupils in school and beyond. Provision is generally more effective in schools where designated staff have clear responsibility for developing ESDGC. Where responsibilities are not clear enough, this is not the case.

The report contains a series of recommendations for schools, local authorities and regional consortia. Schools need to plan for the progressive development of pupils’ understanding of the seven themes across the curriculum and to assess and track pupils’ development. Making ESDGC contribute to developing literacy and numeracy skills is also a recommendation. Finally, inspectors suggest better training for teachers and governors and establishing a directory of good practice.

Notes to Editors:

About the report 

  • Estyn’s report ‘ESDGC: Progress in education for sustainable development and global citizenship’ was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government and is available in full here.
  • The evidence of this report is based on an analysis of inspection findings from primary, secondary and special schools from 2010-2013; visits to a representative sample of 10 primary schools, 10 secondary schools and two special schools.
  • This report looks at progress since 2006 when Estyn published a baseline report, ‘Establishing a position statement for Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship in Wales’.

Best practice case studies

  • Ysgol y Berllan Deg, Cardiff
  • Ysgol Plascrug, Ceredigion
  • Heronsbridge School, Bridgend
  • Cwmtawe Community School, Neath Port Talbot
  • Ysgol Aberconwy, Conwy
  • Blaen-y-maes Primary School, Swansea

About Estyn

Estyn is the Education and Training Inspectorate for Wales. Our aim is to achieve excellence for all in learning in Wales. We do this by providing an independent, high-quality inspection and advice service.

Our vision is to be recognised through the expertise of our staff as an authoritative voice on learning in Wales.

We are independent from, but funded by the Welsh Assembly Government (under Section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 1998).

For further information please visit our website.

Publication date

Tuesday, 24 June, 2014