Imagine a network of schools across Wales actively embedding a peaceful ethos and applying peace-related learning activities to their everyday lives.
This is what the Wales Peace Schools Scheme is aiming to achieve. The project is a legacy of the Heritage Lottery-funded ‘Wales for Peace’ project which ran during the period of the centenary of the First World War.
The Peace Schools scheme has now been integrated into the global learning programme of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) based at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff.
Now is a great time to be promoting peace education in Wales. One of the four key pillars of the new Welsh curriculum (to be launched in 2022) is the development of ‘ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world.’
The curriculum will include six ‘Areas of Learning’ which will allow opportunities for cross-curricular thematic work. Peace fits perfectly into this approach.
A good example of this is one secondary school that integrated the theme of peace across the Humanities Area of Learning as part of their work to achieve Peace Schools status.
This included looking at ‘peace heroes’ such as Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela, work on conscientious objectors, plus a peace project for Year Eight (12-year-olds) involving critical thinking – including asking pupils to consider whether the UK should be involved in bombing Syria.
Peace Schools aim to be places where:
- Everyone feels safe, respected and valued
- There is a school ethos based on co-operation, respect for difference and problem-solving
- Peace is a common thread in learners’ everyday lives – in the way they learn and live together
- The curriculum contains opportunities to learn about and reflect upon stories of peacemakers from Wales and beyond
- Learners are encouraged to be critical active citizens of Wales and the world
The scheme is aimed to be flexible with schools developing their own visions and involving the whole school community – staff, pupils and parents alike – in creating, adapting and refining activities and events that reflect their circumstances.
At the same time, to be meaningful, the scheme needs to have a tangible effect on school life. For this reason, criteria have been developed so that schools know what outcomes they are working towards and can provide evidence on how these outcomes have impacted positively on pupils’ knowledge, attitudes and skills and on the school community as a whole.
Six schools achieved their Level 1 Peace Schools award in November 2018. We were blown away by their achievements and enthusiasm. A further seven are working towards becoming Peace Schools this year.