Fair trade day formed part of a whole school curriculum enrichment programme, and linked to the Citizenship scheme of work, which explores diversity and human rights in a local, national and global context.
This helped to address both the development of citizenship in the whole school development plan and to further embed the awareness of global citizenship within our school community.
Congleton is a small rural Cheshire town, which has very little ethnic diversity and therefore it is especially important to introduce ideas of valuing different cultures, challenging stereotypes, and exploring the reasons and responsibility for problems in a globalised society.
The Fair Trade day was based around the concept of world debt and the theme of ‘rich world/poor world’. Students were encouraged to explore through a variety of exercises, videos etc the divide between the more economically developed nations and the less economically developed ones. The idea that many of these nations have a wealth of natural resources but that their economy is impeded by large debts owed to the MEDCs was discussed.
Types of economy were explored and students could see that the farmers and growers actually received very little for the cash crops they grow. That most of the profit goes in taxes to governments (sometimes corrupt), or profits for large multinational companies. Case studies were examined. The students were then introduced to the idea of fair trade, and how we could influence our society to give a fairer deal to people in other parts of the world, using the fair trade chocolate game, and of course free samples of ‘Dubble’ bars!
Resources and preparation
In order to carry out the day successfully an amount of time is required as administratively organising the fair trade chocolate game resources is quite time consuming. It is important both to be organised with the resources which need to be carefully labelled and checked.
Staff delivering the lesson(s) need to be well briefed, and a training session plus time to acquaint themselves with the game is desirable. It helped that the staff involved were the student’s tutors who knew them well and also taught the citizenship lessons as part of the curriculum and therefore had a good understanding of prior knowledge and participation by their students.
Resources and staff training were provided in the first instance by Heather Swainston at the Cheshire DEC – this was invaluable to us but it is possible to gather a pack of resources for each teacher and to work through them either as a group or individually. Each tutor group had their tutor, plus another member of staff – this might be support staff or sixth formers who have been attached to the tutor group in an on going project. The tutor group was timetabled in a room for the whole day and the usual school day timings were suspended. The Cheshire DEC team were also on hand to give an introduction to the day and to trouble shoot with expertise as necessary.
Delivery and development
The day and its theme are a good example of sustainable activities. Once gathered and delivered effectively it can be used again in an ongoing citizenship activity either as a stop day as we did, or as part of distinct citizenship lessons. If your school delivers citizenship at key stage 3 only via other curriculum areas then geography may well be able to use these resources effectively.
It has proved a platform linking to other areas, for example the school now advertises and acknowledges fair trade fortnight, the sixth form have an introduction to the issues surrounding fair trade and we are looking at the possibility of becoming a fair trade school in the near future. School council are replacing the sixth form chocolate vending machines with fair trade alternatives. Good links have been made between fair trade and the Comic Relief a charity event that has been very well supported by the whole school community.
The theme of Fair Trade illustrates well the global dimension in education by linking with may other curriculum areas, geography, business studies, politics, PHSCE and Mathematics. Students have the opportunity to debate real issues and to research the work of pressure groups and how they can work to change things for the better. The students were given postcards, which they filled on the day and these were sent to the major supermarkets in the area asking them to stock a variety of fair trade products.
It is essential that this activity is well organised and that there are sufficient resources. Staff do need to plan the day carefully together. It is not something that can be looked at 30minutes before!
The Fair Trade Chocolate Game
It is advisable to do the Fair-trade chocolate game with approximately thirty children in a mixed ability group. Where there are school with small tutor groups it would be advisable to put groups together to make up numbers, however this may not be so effective for the discussion, video, worksheet based activities, and therefore having more than one member of staff and venue is also a good idea. This was possible in our experience as the day was part of a whole school activity and the timetable was collapsed.
As students play the game inevitably some students will try to cheat. This should not necessarily be stopped but revealed and discussed later, as something that actually happens in the real world! When choosing the students to be the journalists who make a record of the game ensure that more able and out going students are selected as this is quite a challenging task to do well.
During the day students were asked what they thought about the issues, and if they would be asking parents to consider buying fair trade products and many agreed that they would.
Photographs were taken during the day both as a record of the citizenship activity but also to help to make up an eye-catching display on fair trade. This was put up in our main corridor and received a lot of attention. It is clear from the photographs that students are thoroughly engaged and enjoying the activity.
The whole aspect of globalisation is developing within our school with many new links being established since we opened in September 2000. We have a number of exchange visits, a twinning project being organised with an Indonesian village following funds raised after the Tsunami tragedy, a variety of stop days based around global citizenship.
Distinct citizenship lessons in which this is clearly addressed, and through a thorough audit of subjects’ citizenship have been mapped. There have been many thousands of pounds raised by students and staff for global charities e.g. Unicef, Comic Relief, Oxfam etc. We have also attempted to increase awareness by display throughout the school.
All these initiatives have been supported and driven by the Developing Citizenship project, which has been efficient and innovative in its role.