LIVING WORLDWISE: Global Citizenship Starts in the Early Years

“ I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage, or bravery, or generosity, or anything else…kindness that simple word. To be kind – it covers everything to my mind. If you’re kind that’s it.

- Roald Dahl (Giberovitch, M. 2019) ”

The Importance of Service


Service is about being kind, thinking about and helping others, having an awareness of our actions and how they affect people and the world around us, and, ultimately, doing something positive for the sole intention of benefitting another person or the environment, rather than our self. When we help someone, we get a positive feeling inside, which helps build our self-worth and self-esteem. At Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, we want our students to develop their understanding and instil this value in order to create a better world for themselves. Throughout the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of the world, the effects of climate change, pollution and violence can be seen globally. We are working towards building a better future for our students and empowering them with the understanding, skills, and knowledge to make a difference.


“Studies indicate that opportunities to serve others, whether in civic, private, or professional settings, as well as charitable giving, result in a stronger sense of purpose and meaning in life, leading to better mental and physical well-being.” (Tsipursky, G. 2016)


At Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, we aim to teach our students about the importance of helping others and the environment to create change and make a positive impact on our world, as opposed to gaining something for ourselves, such as external rewards and praise. When students take actions for the intention of receiving something in return, this creates a need for extrinsic motivators, an external gain. We develop children’s ability to act and behave for internal rewards, an intrinsic motivation, such as doing something for the good of others or our environment.


“Meaningful work is driven by intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.” (Rath, T. 2015)

It all Starts in the Early Years


As part of our Early Years Programme of Learning, all our students, beginning in Toddlers, develop their personal, social, and emotional skills alongside other areas of learning. The qualities they acquire through our programme, includes building relationships, learning to share and take turns, how to resolve conflicts and how to self-regulate feelings and emotions. Our Understanding of the World Programme of Learning helps children gain the skills to understand and respect the differences and similarities between themselves and others, as well as between cultures, traditions, and backgrounds. This teaches children that no matter who people are or where they are from, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, as we model and encourage these behaviours in our everyday practice. Children also learn how to respect and care for the natural world and the changes and effects that occur around us.  Underpinning our Early Years Programme of Learning are the Characteristics of Effective Learning, which are behaviours and attitudes that help children learn. Through the Early Years, then leading into the Learn-to-Learn skills and IB Programme, children acquire the fundamental skills and abilities to allow them to collaborate effectively with others, achieve satisfaction from completing their own goals, make links in their learning and solve problems by finding solutions.


Our Early Years Global Citizenship Programme of Learning


At Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, we are in a prime position to educate our students about Service, Sustainability and Global Citizenship and have created our own Global Citizenship Programme of Learning. This framework incorporates the College Values: Aim High, Work Hard, Be Kind and Respectful, and Make a Difference, and aims to build a community that works together, so that children can empower themselves to make a difference. We teach our students about who they are and build their self-esteem and self-worth, to enable them to help others and to play a positive role in their community. Our programme also involves all members of our community, as this is crucial to share learning and ensuring all stakeholders are aware of and encouraged to participate to embed our practices and for the children to see these taking place in all areas of their life.


Outlined below are some of the key areas and events that are taking place this year to support our Early Years students to become Global Citizens.



  • Fundraising events 

Throughout the year we host several events that involve raising money for Veal Reyoung School, the school in Cambodia that we fund through our partnership with United World Schools. We talk to our students about the school and the students who study there, recognising the similarities and differences between us and why we raise money to support a school in a different country. We then listen to our students’ ideas about how we can help fundraise. Examples of this are making things to sell at our Founder’s Day and creating artwork to auction at our Winter Ball. Our silent auction at the Winter Ball last year was a huge success and the student’s work was bought and treasured by many of our families. The students are in the process of making this year’s pieces of art ready for our upcoming Winter Ball in December. These events are special times to share with our families and community, as well as creating opportunities for raising money to support the students at Veal Reyoung School.

  • Everyday routines and practices

We incorporate service and sustainability into our everyday practices and routines, as they are the foundation of our philosophy at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi. The adults in our environments model what it means to be kind and help others, and we support our students to develop their own attributes. Our spaces are made up of natural resources, limiting the amount of plastic and being as sustainable as possible and offer junk modelling areas for children to reuse resources for their own models and creations. We encourage our students to work collaboratively with their peers and adults to find imaginative ways of using resources to develop their own ideas and creativity in their learning. During mealtimes we raise awareness of food waste and use the leftover food and scraps to feed the worms in our worm farms. We then use the worm farm waste as fertilizer on our plants. In our Field to Fork Programme, children will spend time planting seeds then use the foods grown in cooking activities. We also limit the amount of water we use in play and encourage the children to use only the water they need.

  • Class pets 

Having guinea pigs in school as our Early Years pets, provides an abundance of learning opportunities, including how to care for other living things. Our students in Reception have roles of responsibilities to feed, clean and look after our guinea pigs, so that all the students in Early Years can learn about the pets and the importance of caring for animals. We also use time over the year to help look after the turtles and our gardens welcome a wide range of insects, including caterpillars and snails. Finding these insects outside allows the students to learn how to handle them carefully, how to be considerate around them and where the best place is for them to live. We use technology to find out more about the insects that we find, what they like to eat and where they live, so we can find homes that are suitable. Over the year we are creating our own Bug Encyclopaedia to document all the wonderful creatures that we find.

  • ‘Responsibility’ inquiry

Through our concept-based learning, inquiry develops through Toddlers and Nursery, then into Reception, to enable children to learn and understand the concept of ‘responsibility’ and the role they play in looking after themselves, others, and the world. In Toddlers, children experience a wealth of opportunities to explore how we look after each other, our resources, and the natural world. In Nursery, the students have responsibility roles and learn what it means to be responsible for looking after plants, equipment and helping others. In Reception, the students learn at a deeper level about their responsibility towards caring for our planet, each other and themselves through daily practices and routines. They explore the impact of pollution, water and food waste on our natural resources and the rainforests.

  • Early Years Community Times

Each week we have an Early Years Community Time, where the children from each year group come together to share songs and a story. A child from each class is chosen to receive a Golden Leaf for our community tree, which demonstrates a way that they have helped someone, shown respect and kindness, or demonstrated one of our other Characteristics of Effective Learning. This is a way for our students to familiarise themselves with the concept of what it means to help and care for others and our environment. Through these Community Times, we will be exploring different aspects of our Global Citizenship Competencies, such as helping others, reducing water and food waste, looking after our world, and learning about the roles and responsibilities of people in our community.


Our Global Citizenship Competency Framework


At the start of this year, Mr Ben Saunders, our Global Citizenship Champion, introduced five new Global Competencies which complement our vison of what Global Citizenship looks like at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi. ‘A community working together so children can empower themselves to make a difference’. The five competencies are: Service, Social Injustice, Diversity, Environmental Sustainability, and Intercultural Understanding. These were introduced to ensure we had a shared understanding and vision of what we believe defines a ‘Global Citizen’. 


By having these competencies at the core of everything we do at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, we ensure that the students have many opportunities to improve their global competencies across the disciplines of Art, English Language, History/Social studies, Mathematics, Science, and Modern Foreign Languages.  A well-rounded global curriculum not only opens students’ eyes but paves the way for them to act in ways that are inspired by their course of study and driven by a desire to make a difference locally, regionally, and globally. 


Furthermore, we also aim to further develop these competencies through our service projects that each year of the Primary School and Early Years have been given. Early Years have been given the responsibility of, ‘Eco Gardens’ where they have the opportunity to create and care for gardens across the school grounds. In Year 1, the children have been put in charge of keeping the school tidy and understanding the importance behind it. Year 2 wanted to ensure they promote ‘Playground Leaders’ and will become role models for the rest of the school in this area by ensuring the children are safe and happy at breaktimes. Moving into Key Stage 2, Year 3 were given the tricky task of food waste and how we can reduce it and more importantly what we can do with our unwanted food. The Eco Council has been formed in Year 4 and they have many responsibilities to cover this year, including promoting the Mustang Challenge and looking after the living larder in the rooftop garden where an array of fruit and vegetables will be planted.  Most schools have the problem of stationery and paper wastage but not at Dulwich College Puxi! The Year 5s have devised lots of innovative solutions for tackling this never-ending problem. Lastly, Year 6 have taken on the project of donating toiletries to the local migrant school in Maqiao.  


We have only touched on a small amount of the exciting plans that Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi have for this year, and we are all excited for Global Citizenship to be the leading performer for this academic year and beyond.


Giberovitch, M. (2019) How to Bring More Kindness To The World With A Smile, A Compliment And Giving Spirit [online] Accessed on: 16/10/2021 Available at: 
Tsipursky, G. (2016) Is Serving Others the Key to Meaning and Purpose? Psychology Today [online] Accessed on: 16/10/2021 Available at: 
Rath, T. (2015) The Only Type of Motivation That Leads to Success [online] Accessed on: 16/10/2021 Available at: 
Department for Education (2021) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage [online] Accessed on: 16/10/2021 Available at:
University of Worcester (2016) Go Green: Guidance to Support Early Years Settings in implementing an awareness in children of the importance of looking after their environment [online] Accessed on: 16/10/2021 Available at: 
Liverpool John Moores University Early Years Setting Implementation Pack [online] Accessed on: 16/10/2021 Available at: