Frequently Asked Questions


Drama with pupils

What are Storylines?

'Storyline' is an interdisciplinary method that was developed in the 1970s in Scotland at Strathclyde University and that is being used internationally now. The methodology involves learners creating and developing their own fictional community where a story takes place. Scenarios for the story are initiated by the teacher, but the outcomes are dependent on decisions which the learners make as characters within the fictional community.  More information can be found on the Storyline Scotland website.



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Where do Global Storylines come from?

The first five Global Storylines were written, piloted and reflected upon within the 2010-2013 Global Storylines Project funded by the Department for International Development.  This project was led by the West of Scotland Development Education Centre (WOSDEC) in partnership with Glasgow City Council Education Improvement Services and Strathclyde University.  Published research funded by the project has demonstrated the positive impact that the Global Storylines process has had so far on teachers, pupils and the wider community.


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What global issues are explored?

The Global Storylines allow learners to explore interconnections and interdependence between humans and our natural resources.  Across the Global Storylines written so far, the following issues are explored:

  • media bias
  • inclusion
  • refugee and asylum
  • trade justice
  • land rights
  • water security
  • food issues
  • sustainability
  • prejudice and discrimination

Click here for summaries of the Global Storylines so far.



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Who can do Global Storylines?

Although there is much scope for learning through this unique methodology in Secondary schools, the Global Storylines written so far are aimed at learners in middle and upper Primary.  


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Can you do the Global Storylines without the drama?

In a word – no!  In all of the Global Storylines, drama plays a central role in supporting learners to explore how the particular issue impacts people and communities.  The drama allows pupils to explore the lives of their characters in depth, including how the social, ecological, and economic circumstances lead them to behave as they do.  The drama scenes within the Global Storyline episodes create unique opportunities for both pupils and teachers to step in and out of the fictional and reflect on what is happening.

Stop the drama – what just happened there?

How will our characters respond?

What do we need to find out about now?

The drama also gently plays with the power balance in the classroom, allowing pupils to feel more in control of their learning and take ownership for the development of the story.  The teacher plays several roles, some with a higher status (such as a community leader), and often with a lower status (such as a visitor from another community).  This shift in power is key to building self-esteem and resilience for young people, as well as a growing sense of community cohesion.

In drama, we can investigate what those imagined people in that situation might do, or did do, and discover why they behaved in that way. In the drama class it is safe because we can stop the pretence at any time we like, and walk away unscathed... but not untouched – we will know and understand more because, briefly but as authentically as we may, we have been there ourselves.

(O’Toole and Dunn, Pretending to Learn: helping children learn through drama, 2002)

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