A chance to enthuse students about fair trade – ethical trading and development issues

Reading time: 2 minutes. Relevant programme: Global Learning Programme 

Joanna Milis, education campaigns manager, Fairtrade Foundation, explains the potential impact of Fairtrade Fortnight for schools

Fairtrade Fortnight (26 February – 11 March 2018) is an opportunity for people across the country to show their support for the farmers and workers who grow our food in developing countries. Thousands of schools across the UK join in every year to learn about fair trade, raise awareness in their communities and take action for the people we rely on for the things we need and enjoy.

Farmers like Samuel, a coffee farmer in Kenya: ‘Fairtrade has helped me and my fellow coffee farmers get a more fair price for our coffee beans. That has made the coffee farming more attractive for us. At the end of the day I’m very proud when I deliver my coffee beans.’

Fair trade is relevant to learning and school life. Teaching fair trade offers opportunities to explore different areas of the curriculum, especially in geography and PSHE. Covering fair trade as a topic allows learners to develop understanding about how we are all interconnected through global patterns of trade. Over 9000 schools in the UK regularly engage with the Fairtrade Foundation, and many more use our teaching and learning resources to explore fair trade in their schools.

Fairtrade Fortnight at one school

At St Cuthbert’s Primary School, fair trade is actively supported throughout the year, with special events and celebrations in Fairtrade Fortnight. The school was supported by Stockton Fairtrade Partnership and the local Sainsbury’s to hold a breakfast, including parents and carers, featuring Fairtrade fruit, juices, jam and honey.

The Fairtrade group is one of the most popular clubs in the school, with more children volunteering to join than any other club in the school. This has had a profound impact on the pupils. During recruitment for the new headteacher, pupils questioned the successful candidate on fair trade.

St Cuthbert’s chair of governors, Mary Dowson, said: ‘Our children have an understanding of the wider world as a result of being a Fairtrade school. They know that people who are involved in fair trade are paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work. Our pupils know that access to education is a challenge in some parts of the world and they’ve seen examples where the Fairtrade premium has funded a school. Fair trade is a non-negotiable in our school and it will continue.’

Teaching fair trade empowers pupils

Research into the Fairtrade School Awards, conducted by the Development Education Research Centre at Institute of Education, shows that taking part in the programme has a positive impact on pupil engagement and their learning about the wider world.

‘The evidence (for the awards) demonstrates the value of such a programme in developing children and young people’s learning about global issues, and as a way of empowering pupils to have a voice and share their own views.’ Professor Doug Bourn, Director of the Development Education Research Centre (DERC) at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE).

Getting involved

Some of the things you can do to get involved this Fairtrade Fortnight:

  • Use the free films and teaching resources on the Fairtrade Schools website
  • Put on a Fairtrade event for your community. The event can be an opportunity to show your guests how the food we eat has local and global connections, and how fair trade enables farmers to improve their lives.
  • Co-op works closely with the Fairtrade Foundation and sponsors the Fairtrade Schools Award. Why not contact your local Co-op to see if they’d like to get involved in your event?
  • Fundraise for fair trade – hold a bakesale or coffee morning.

Don’t forget to invite your MP and local newspaper along to really make a big splash for fair trade producers. When your MP sees that you care about making trade fairer, you’ll help the Foundation tackle the structural problems with trade.

Interested in getting involved? Get in touch with the Fairtrade Schools team by email: schools@fairtrade.org.uk

Follow Joanna Milis and Fairtrade UK Schools on Twitter

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