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The aim of this project was, ‘for students to understand the effect of global economics on countries with significant debt’. Specifically, how consumer pressure can ease the burden on developing nations.

The fair trade project related to:

  • curriculum change
  • student participation
  • whole school change

Impact on departments

  • ICT: Students were made aware of Malawi and economic issues therein.
  • Geography: Economic pressures on environmental issues.
  • Art: Specific project to develop empathy and also raise awareness through display of art work.
  • RE: Lessons in all key stages on fair trade.
  • Citizenship: Assessment lesson in Year 9 has an opportunity for reflection on fair trade as part of  a bugeting exercise.

The planning process

  • Focus on the objective. ‘Every student at NDHS able to tell you what fair trade is and why it is important.’
  • Short term: Hit everybody with the issue through the trading game.
  • Long term: Ensure that new intake experience the trading game year on year.
  • Build in sustainability. Train Year 12 students to run the trading game for lower years.
  • Ensure projects across the curriculum touch on the issue.

Practicalities

It was hard to find time time for half of the year groups to participate in the trading game. Finding personel for the first few games was tricky. In addition there were timetable and calendar issues to overcome. This was achieved with the support of the leadership team, who were fully behind the project. We also had significant help from NEAD in leading the game. With hindsight, I would have run the trading game at a staff inset.

Once the Year 12 students were trained there was less of an issue with personnel. Indeed, the students helped to run the game at another school. I am proud to say that the students, in general, were engaged in the exercise.

Achievements

  • The school has changed the hospitality budget to include the increased cost of fair trade tea, coffee, etc.
  • Fair trade chocolate is available in all vending machines.
  • The catering manager is aware of and supports where possible fairly traded projects.
  • Students have waved chocolate bars at me saying, ‘Look sir! I’m eating fair trade chocolate!’ I have not heard a single complaint about the cost.
  • Student council are keen to continue promotion of the issue.

Challenges

  • Encouraging change in pupil attitudes, sometimes with a lack of parental support.
  • Engaging and enthusing all staff.
  • Maintaining the profile of the project, In a large school which has a lot of initiatives.

Lasting benefits

School systems are in place which will ensure the issue is raised for a good number of years – fair trade is mentioned in the development plans of a number of subjects. The issue is embedded in the school aims, though not specifically mentioned.

We are not defined by what we know, but by how we respond to the things we learn. Learning about fair trade is putting aspects of the curriculum into direct action. Greater learning is achieved by looking outside oneself:

“…as persons go out from or beyond themselves… they become more truly themselves… This is the paradox of spiritual being – that precisely by going out and spending itself, it realises itself.” (Mac Quarrie)

In this way the project can help to, “create a society where people matter more than things.” (Bishop Desmond Tutu)

This work © Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK and UNICEF (UK), 2007. Part of the Developing Citizenship project.

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