An Education for Global Competency

“The more interdependent the world becomes, the more we rely on collaborators and orchestrators who are able to join others in work and life. Schools need to prepare students for a world in which people need to work with others of diverse cultural origins, and appreciate different ideas, perspectives and values; a world in which people need to develop trust to collaborate across such differences; and a world in which people’s lives will be affected by issues that transcend national boundaries.”

Andreas Schleicher. Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General

globeThe concept of Global Citizenship has been growing for a number of years, catalysed in recent years by the crystallisation of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The watershed of 2007 not only made the 18th Century Industrial model of education and skills redundant but also ushered in an age of hyper-connectivity experienced by so many. With this has come a re-imagining of what it means to be a Global Citizen, what such citizenship may entail and with that what attributes, capacities and skills may be required to posses Global Competence. H.G.Wells in the wake of the Great War of 1914-1918 became a leading voice of his time questioning the old order and offering up a model of a Globalised civilisation.

Today the discussion around Global Citizenry is driven by thought leaders and global organisations including The World Economic Forum, the OECD and Oxfam. While education systems are highly context-specific, consensus is emerging globally on key principles and core features that can best meet the challenges and maximise the opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution and with it the pressing need for Global Citizenship.

Education—as a process of engaging actively with learning throughout one’s life; cradle to the grave—has tremendous potential to prepare individuals for this new global reality and, if carefully designed and implemented, combat inequality and unlock the potential of individuals and entire economies at the local, national and Global levels.

We at Infinity School believe that it is the duty of an education to,

  • enable all learners to know enough about themselves, others and the world to find out more;
  • enable all learners to build the cognitive and social means to master a lifetime of learning;
  • enable all learners to develop and practice a range of cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills which they can develop, hone and synthesise across subject and context specific boundaries throughout their lives; and
  • enable all learners to question, to be self motivated, self regulated and to be aware of how they, others and the world ‘works’.distinctive-f

This ‘future-ready’ orientation of education serves not only to effectively prepare the individual for the World but to ensure that this is done in such a manner that that individual interacts with the World throughout their lives in a fruitful and interdependent manner; what can be viewed s Global Citizenship.

Marking the importance of attaining Global Citizenry, the PISA Governing Board in 2013 decided to explore an assessment of Global Competence as part of the 2018 PISA assessment cycle. This move is one of several in the OECD’s establishment of its Education 2030 framework, which rests upon four propositions:

  • The evolution of the traditional disciplinary curriculum should be rapidly accelerated to create knowledge and understanding for the 21st century.
  • The skills, attitudes and values that shape human behaviour should be rethought, to counter the discriminatory behaviours picked up at school and in the family.
  • An essential element of modern learning is the ability to reflect on the way one learns best
  • Each learner should strive to achieve a small set of key competences, such as the competence to act autonomously. A competence is the ability to mobilise knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, alongside a reflective approach to the processes of learning, in order to engage with and act in the world.

Whatever may be said of the TALIS PISA tests, their influence and outcomes when the OECD and PISA speak the World listens.

In the paper ‘Global competency for an inclusive world’ (2016) the OECD give a very clear and well researched justification for the need to develop Global Competency as a means of preparing learners politically, socially and economically for an unknown future. To enable such a complex competency to become tangible, measurable and ultimately realised at the Global level the OECD ‘proposes to deconstruct the macro domain of global competence into “dimensions” which are in turn broken down into distinct “components” that can then be measured.’

The definition of Global Competence proposed by the OECD for PISA has similarities to those drawn together by organisations in address to the question what is Global Citizenship?

OECD: ‘Global competence is the capacity to analyse global and intercultural issues critically and from multiple perspectives, to understand how differences affect perceptions, judgments, and ideas of self and others, and to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with others from different backgrounds on the basis of a shared respect for human dignity.

The Global Citizens’ Initiative: ‘[a] global citizen is someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.’

Oxfam: ‘A Global Citizen is someone who:

  • is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
  • respects and values diversity
  • has an understanding of how the world works
  • is outraged by social injustice
  • participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global
  • is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place
  • takes responsibility for their actions.’

University College London: ‘Understanding the challenges our world faces – and contributing to the solutions.’

The OECD recognises that there are multiple approaches to defining Global Competence. For example, other definitions of global competence (and similar terms) from different regions of the world focus less heavily on the individual as central to the definition, and give more emphasis to aspects such as relationships between people (Deardorff, 2009; UNESCO, 2013). Common across all definitions is the recognition of the multidimensional nature of global competency. Three dimensions required to engage in productive and respectful relationships with people from different cultures (a fundamental facet of Global Citizenship and Competency) should be grounded in recognised dimensions of learning representing knowledge and understanding, skills, attitudes and values of multiple cognitive and non-cognitive components. To these end the OECD recognises,

Knowledge and Understanding: ‘Global Competence requires knowledge and understanding of global issues, as well as intercultural knowledge and understanding.’

Skills: ‘Global Competence requires numerous skills, including the ability to: communicate in more than one language; communicate appropriately and effectively with people from other cultures or countries; comprehend other people’s thoughts, beliefs and feelings, and see the world from their perspectives; adjust one’s thoughts, feelings or behaviours to new contexts and situations; and analyse and think critically in order to scrutinise and appraise information and meanings.’

Attitudes: ‘Globally competent behaviour requires an attitude of openness towards people from other cultures or countries, an attitude of respect for cultural otherness, an attitude of global- mindedness (i.e. that one is a citizen of the world with commitments and obligations towards the planet and towards other people irrespective of their particular cultural or national background), and an attitude of responsibility for one’s own actions.’

Values: ‘valuing human dignity and valuing cultural diversity are explicitly included as critical filters through which individuals process information about others’ differences and the world, and are key references for critical and informed judgement.’

Figure 1 shows how this new conceptual framework defines Global Competence as the combination of the interconnected dimensions of knowledge and understanding, skills and attitudes, subject to the conditions set by valuing human dignity and cultural diversity.

Global Competence

We at Infinity embrace the principles outlined above and have designed our model for a ‘future-ready’ education ecosystem to facilitate the emergence of a Global Competency for all learners, no matter their starting point.


We at Infinity and our approach to enquiry driven, interdisciplinary and highly authentic learning experiences are creating the means to prepare learners for the world. In addition to a pedagogical approach which enables choice, voice and personalisation our unique application of Collaborative Group Learning with the Infinity Team of 6 at its heart ensures learners come to see the benefits of learning with others, developing highly prized social skills and a recognition of their own learning processes. A collaborative approach to learning at Infinity does not remove individuality, rather it prizes this with each individual able to come to know themselves and their relationship with others.

At Infinity our curriculum, the Infinity Baccalaureate, is designed by our teachers, guided by recognised standards, in collaboration with their peers, experts from within education, with the local community and with the students and parents, the curriculum is designed to serve. Every unit of learning, which lasts for a 1/2 term, is designed to meet the specific needs of the class it is being delivered to. We are able to do this as we have the freedom to design our own curriculum and we have structured our school day, year and the curriculum itself to empower teachers to be designers, working with the support of a wider community to develop highly personalised and authentic learning experiences. Traditionally schools deliver the same curriculum year after year with no thought about the changing nature of the teacher or the learner. We have a highly structured curriculum skeleton which can be fleshed out in response to the needs of learners and their emerging interests.

It is also important to teach “how to learn” through experience-led approaches just as much as instruction- led ones, and by empowering students to be lifelong learners who take ownership of their upskilling throughout their lifetime. Broad, balanced curricula should also feature exposure to the workplace, with an eye toward professionalizing the future workforce. Internships, mentoring, access to employer networks and site visits, for example, can all contribute to the work-readiness of young people, helping them envision a variety of career paths and equipping them with the relevant competencies.

Early exposure to the workplace and ongoing career guidance is required as such we at Infinity have developed and intend to implement our Professional Pathways approach to Year 10 and 11 with an integrated Internship to ensure real-world experiences of entering into the professional workplace.

Through the above approach and through the development of a school wide culture that lives the Skills, Knowledge, Understanding, Attitudes and Values attributed to a Global Competency an Infinity education will seek to do its small part to contribute to the emergence of a Global Citizenry. principles

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