The process of engaging with schools and persuading them to consider embracing Fairtrade cotton can be a very challenging and long term one. We need to persevere in contacting Fairtrade-friendly schools regularly, reminding them of the Global Citizenship benefits to the students of working with Koolskools’ ethical factories and Fairtrade cotton farming communities.
It is often Fairtrade-friendly teachers that can make the difference for Fairtrade cotton within schools. Together with enthusiastic students, whether through the Fairtrade Committee, ECO Committee or the School Council, they lobby their school’s senior leadership and PTA, Governors etc, and they make a compelling case for the school to make the switch to Fairtrade cotton, perhaps on the back of a Koolskools Fairtrade Assembly and class sessions, when the school as a whole learns first-hand about the benefits.
This is exactly how it worked at Moorside Primary School in Lancaster.
Way back in February 2015 we were delighted to receive an e-mail from Janine Macgregor, a teacher at Moorside Primary, who had heard about our project from another school in their area. On 4 February 2015
Janine e-mailed Koolskools saying: “…I work at Moorside Primary School in Lancaster and we would
love to get involved in this. I am a Year 6 teacher and we were hoping to do some lessons on the cotton trade with a possible link to modern slavery…”.
Well, whenever Koolskools receives an e-mail like that, we try our very best to oblige and “go that extra mile”, which we do regularly from our Southampton base in rolling out our Fairtrade education partnerships with client schools all over the UK. We duly hot-footed it up to Lancaster to speak to the Moorside Primary students during Fairtrade Fortnight 2015. Thus an increasingly productive and meaningful bond was established between Moorside, the Koolskools project and our factory workers and the Fairtrade cotton farmers.
Koolskools paid another visit to Moorside in October 2015. We conducted another school Assembly and classes on Fairtrade cotton with the Year 6 students, and we also spoke to Moorside parents and the PTA about the possibility of introducing year 6 Leavers’ hoodies, on the back of the evident passion that the year 6s were clearly showing for Fairtrade.
The Year 6s wanted to convert what they were learning about vulnerable cotton growers and textiles factory workers into direct action. Their palpable passion for Fairtrade, and their indignation at the injustices of global cotton/textiles supply chains, almost immediately resulted in Moorside’s PTA giving them the chance to buy Year 6 Leavers’ hoodies made with Fairtrade cotton. Koolskools took great pleasure in delivering the hoodies just before Xmas 2015.
But it didn’t stop there! Scattered around this blog are great quotes from just a few of the fifty or so individual letters that Year 6 Moorside Primary School students wrote to Headteachers of schools in the Lancaster area. The letters told the story of the plight of vulnerable cotton farmers in Africa and South Asia, and called on the respective Headteachers to think about the introduction of school uniform made with Fairtrade cotton.
So what an inspiring story! A group of enlightened school students led by example by buying garments made with Fairtrade cotton. But as responsible young global citizens and consumers of the future, this was not enough for them. They became true champions and advocates of Fairtrade in their local area. They put fifty or so Headteachers on the spot and asked them to get their Fairtrade cotton thinking caps on!!
Koolskools would like to say A BIG THANK YOU to Moorside Primary on behalf of our Fairtrade cotton farmers and factory workers.
27 January 2016