Giving Bedalians the skills to address global issues
In a blog for the Independent Schools Council (ISC), Bedales Head of Global Awareness, Abi Wharton, explains how a group of students sought to tackle the issue of hunger as part of their Bedales Assessed Course (BAC).
Any movement with widespread mobilisation throughout history has had young people at the forefront. Given the rate of social change in the 21st century, says Abi, educators have a responsibility to equip young people with the skills to ensure that they are able to lead movements of any kind and be able to become social innovators.
The latest addition to Bedales' highly regarded alternative qualifications to GCSEs, the ambitious Global Awareness BAC is devoted to social entrepreneurship and innovation, involving the use of 21st century skills to understand and address global issues. Abi explains: "In the last academic year, our students communicated with organisations and governments across the globe, devised solutions for issues ranging from landmines in Angola, harvesting the mist in East Timor, educating children as young as six about human rights, and more.”
Inspiring and feeding an appetite for change is key to the Global Awareness programme. In the first year of the course, emphasis is placed on students acquiring research skills and analysing different points of view. In the second year, they undertake both collaborative and individual projects selected from four areas – human rights, global health, peace and conflict, and the arms trade.
Last year, one collaborative project was the Food Fund. Four students were given the topic of hunger in the 21st century as their starting point. Portsmouth is home to some of the most deprived areas in the UK. Acting upon findings of a growing reliance on food banks by people in the UK, the students communicated with the Trussell Trust, and made contact with a food bank in the Petersfield area to discuss how Bedales might become involved in regular food donations. They placed donation boxes and notices around the school, and developed a website encouraging contributions from people beyond the school gates. Students are planning to volunteer at the Portsmouth food bank in the coming academic year, and food poverty will remain a key topic for the course.
Abi concludes: “I am confident that the Global Awareness BAC has begun the task of helping our students towards a meaningful and practical education in citizenship and, crucially, the sense that they can change the world in which they live.”
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