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20 October 2014
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  • Online lesson plan
  • Offline lesson plan
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  • Offline lesson plan

    Students will learn about international organisations, how they work and how effective they are.

    National Curriculum

    QCA Schemes of work Unit 03: Human Rights, Unit 10: Debating a global issue and Unit 11: Why is it so difficult to keep peace in the world today?

    Resources Required

    Large map of the world.

    Teaching Activities


    Use a large map of the world to explore students’ existing knowledge of the European Union, Commonwealth and United Nations. Ask the students: Name a member state of the European Union. Where is it on the map? In which continent are there member states of the Commonwealth? Zimbabwe is at present excluded from the Commonwealth, why and where is it on the map? Where on the map is the headquarters of the United Nations?

    In addition or alternatively, ask: What does the European Union mean to you? or What does it mean to you to be a citizen of Europe? Record answers on the whiteboard to refer back to at the end of the lesson.


    1. Start the lesson by pooling class knowledge about any recent conferences or summit meetings for the EU, UN or Commonwealth: What was the meeting for? What was decided?

    2. Challenge students to construct a ‘venn-type’ diagram showing how the United Kingdom and up to five other countries are members of one, two or all three of these international organisations. Give examples to help them do this task: For example, the UK belongs to all three; Australia belongs to two (which two?); Turkey belongs to one (which one?).

    3. Select students or ask for volunteers to speak from their diagrams, explaining to the rest of the class what these three organisations are, what they do and how they are different from each other. Build up notes on this that students agree with, for copying in their books.

    4. For more able students, a suitable extension exsercise would be to ask students to write a mini essay on whether they think the United Nations should be a world government, with an elected president.

    5. Finally, test the knowledge they have acquired or recalled during this lesson. These questions may help to do this: Fighting has broken out in Cyprus: which organisation should Cypriot leaders contact to try and stop the conflict? Mozambique – a former colony of Portugal – has recently joined the Commonwealth: are there any countries you would not allow to join – and why? Questions from the Eu, UN and Commonwealth Quiz can also be used.

    6. After doing this activity, students can get involved in active citizenship involving international organisations by doing their own project, as Southfields Community College did for Amnesty International (see Citizenship Action). Or students can read CBBC Newsround's guide to the UN.

    Suggested Homework

    Ask students to find out more about the history of the European Union. They could present this as a table or graphic showing the main stages along the road to creating the Union.

    Or: On a blank map of the world mark the present members of the Commonwealth and/or some of the flags of their countries.

    More able students: Latin America hardly appears on maps of the Commonwealth. Write a short explanation giving what you think are the reasons for this.

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