‘Cities Project ~ creative KS3 curriculum development’ was the focus for a significant Tide~ project between 2009 and 2012, funded by the Department For International Development [DFID].

“The immediate impact has been that the lessons I have delivered [comparing cities, impact of Olympics in LEDCs, food miles] have been more effective.  This is because my thinking process when lesson planning has been influenced by the discussions and materials coming out of the project.  Students are learning, using a variety of engaging, up-to-date resources with a global dimension." - Member of teacher working group.

Project purpose

The Cities Project sought to enable teachers to bring Southern development issues into their teaching, and so enable learning outcomes for young people, related to Southern development, through making connections to similar issues in their own city.  For the purpose of this project, Southern development issues were defined as: those related to the environment, such as the impact on human development of climate change and waste management; economic development, such as trade with Southern countries; social issues such as migration, poverty reduction and conflict; and interdependence between the UK and countries in the South, as well as between those countries themselves.

The methodology for achieving the project purpose was through creative curriculum development by teacher working groups, supported by Tide~ global learning and experts in these issues.

Click here for the Project Plan.

Project Outcomes

1.  Teachers gained knowledge, understanding and confidence with respect to Southern development issues [such as those shown in the project purpose], in order to feel capable of supporting learners to think critically about the issues, so that they felt empowered to take action.

'This will influence aspects of our new zoned curriculum'  - Project co-ordinator

"I have already developed and adapted some materials for use within the Integrated Curriculum in Year 7' - Project co-ordinator

2.  Learners developed knowledge and understanding with respect to Southern development issues [as outlined above], and felt empowered to make informed choices, based on knowledge of how their actions impact on the world around them.

I think children have a point of view, like about crime and other issues in cities’ - Young person at November 2010 event

‘It gave me ideas how to help in the local community and how to help other countries’ -  Young person at November 2010 event

3.  Learning and outputs from this project are available and shared widely

'My classroom practice has changed mainly through now having better access to certain materials' - Conference participant

'I feel this is an important project to be involved in, as it will allow Colton Hills to have access to some quality curriculum materials … and develop models of good practice'
- Member of teacher working group

Project activities

Using the commonality of cities as a way of engaging with global issues is an approach which members of the other Tide~ working groups have found valuable over the years.  A range of projects and publications have explored the potential of a cities approach to curriculum development, including Cities and Citizenship and Cities as a lens to the world.  The Cities Project builds on these ideas, and on a cross-curricular approach to the KS3 curriculum developed during a study visit course to Cape Town in 2009.

As a starting point for the Cities Project, we had conversations with a range of partner organisations [schools, businesses, local government departments and NGOs] about the big issues for Birmingham, some of which were shared at a Seminar in October 2009.  Four big issues were raised, and helped to shape aspects of the project in its initial phase:

  • Health and wellbeing;
  • Climate change and sustainable development;
  • Economic regeneration;
  • Community cohesion.

During 2009 and 2010, a small group of secondary teachers came together to develop initial exploratory ideas, focussing on Geography, History, MFL, Year 7 integrated approaches, and off-timetable days.  Some of these ideas were shared at a curriculum conference in June 2010.

A major event for young people was held in November 2010.  Young people from eight Birmingham secondary schools participated in this active citizenship event, with workshops run by partner organisations, concluding with a very lively question time session.

From these activities, teacher working groups developed the second phase of the project in 2011 focussing on:

  • Globalisation in Humanities;
  • Using local archive materials to explore migration stories in History and Geography;
  • Intercultural understanding and Global Learning in MFL;
  • Democracy, influence and young people’s voice, focussing particularly on the Arab Spring and protest;
  • City development - how do cities develop?  What are the common connections?

Cities, people and change shares ideas and teaching activities developed by these working groups.

An external evaluator [Elisabeth Barrett Hacking, University of Bath] carried out a number of evaluations with teachers and pupils, which informed the project and contributed towards the final reports. The summary of the Young people’s active citizenship event and a report from teacher focus groups share some of her findings.  

Many people have been involved with the project during its three years, and we would like to say thank you everyone for their interest, contributions and enthusiasm.

For details of a 2013-16 project which builds on this work, click here


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