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The fourth in our blog series looking at particular areas of the UK that are cottoning on to Fairtrade school clothing (excuse the pun!) takes us to East Grinstead in West Sussex, where big things are happening in support of Fairtrade cotton farmers, thanks to the staff and students of Imberhorne School.
Koolskools first contacts with Imberhorne School date back to 2011. Koolskools first visited Imberhorne in 2014 to do some of our unique Fairtrade education work.
The school’s Fairtrade Group immediately embraced the idea of introducing Fairtrade uniform as part of their mission to enhance the school’s practical engagement with Fairtrade.
After supplying Imberhorne with over 100 Leavers’ hoodies for the second consecutive summer in 2017, Fairtrade uniform proper seemed the logical next step for their ambitious Fairtrade Group, guided by the school’s enthusiastic Fairtrade teacher, Rob Langstone.
Koolskools and Imberhorne: A True Fairtrade Partnership
Koolskools showcased our bespoke Imberhorne-logo’ed sample school uniform to the school Governors during Fairtrade Fortnight 2016 in a joint presentation with the Fairtrade Group, led by the remarkably enthusiastic Henry Grubb and under the guidance of the now Head of Year 7, Rob Langstone.
During that meeting our inspirational Fairtrade-licensed factory seamstress, Pamela Intelligent, was able to give the Headteacher and Governors a first-hand account of how Fairtrade had changed her life. The school Governors have since confirmed Koolskools belief that this was a watershed moment in moving the school’s hierarchy towards embracing school uniform made with Fairtrade cotton.
The Biggest Fairtrade School Uniform Order in History?
So we were delighted that in October 2017 Imberhorne School placed with Koolskools what we think could be the largest ever single order for Fairtrade cotton school uniform in history – 3,250+ school-logo’ed polos.
This wonderful Fairtrade-supporting school have converted Years 7, 8 and 9 to Fairtrade cotton polos for the school year 2018/19, and initial feedback from the students and teachers as the new term has started has been VERY positive:
“The new polos look amazing – I was very proud standing on that first day back knowing how hard we have all worked to get those into school! They look smart, seem to be washing well and the students prefer them to the old ones” said Rob Langstone a couple of weeks into the Autumn 2018 term.
Years 10 and 11 students will start wearing the Fairtrade polos in 2019 and 2020 respectively. So the entire school of approximately 1800 students will be wearing polos made with Fairtrade cotton by 2020, a tremendous statement in support of Fairtrade.
One happy, Fairtrade-friendly Headteacher!
Martin Brown, Imberhorne’s Headteacher, was present at the 2016 Fairtrade Fortnight presentation, and has remained very supportive of the initiative, together with the school’s Bursar, Jill Botting. Speaking about the Fairtrade polo order recently, Mr Brown said the following:
“Imberhorne school’s Fairtrade journey over the past 5 years has been hugely rewarding, and our students have become more enlightened Global Citizens as a result of their engagement with Fairtrade. We are proud to be a “Fair Achiever” school, and we are always looking for ways to convert what our students are learning about Fairtrade and its social values into practical support for Fairtrade business…
…the introduction of a Fairtrade cotton school polo is a logical next step, and we are particularly delighted to be working in conjunction with Koolskools on this exciting project, as Koolskools have also had a tangible and sustainable stake in the Fairtrade education of our students”.
On behalf of the Fairtrade cotton farmers and our Fairtrade-licensed factory workers, including Pamela, Koolskools would like to thank Headteacher Martin Brown, the Imberhorne teachers, Governors and students for supporting this initiative.
We hope other Fairtrade Secondary schools in the UK will follow Imberhorne’s lead and champion Fairtrade school uniform.
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