The new school year is now in full swing so it is high time that we started blogging and tweeting again!
What better than to start with the story of Koolskools Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 activities, where our regular blog readers will know that Fairtrade Fortnight (FTF) seems to be starting earlier and finishing later for Koolskools with every year that passes.
This year, after Mike and I joined forces for a very invigorating “early bird” FTF day in Wrexham (see the KS February blog) on 18 February, the two Koolskools managing partners went their separate ways, such is the demand these days for the Koolskools educational/Fairtrade awareness raising presentations.
Both Mike and I had the opportunity to renew our acquaintance with some existing client schools (East Sheen Primary, Wildern to name but a couple) during FTF, but also engage with a significant number of new client schools as we travelled the length and breadth of the country spreading the Fairtrade cotton word.
This year we had some extra special educational material for UK school students, as we were able to show them some very unique film footage of our February 2014 visit to India. The connection with India was very much to the fore during the first week of FTF. First, a very enjoyable and worthwhile day was spent in Peterborough, where the students and FT Steering Group of Oundle Primary School showed Andy just why they are a Fairtrade school, and the local Fairtrade Campaign Group discussed with Andy some exciting plans for a schools conference on Fairtrade cotton later in the year.
Mike then spent a very rewarding day at a Bristol and South West Fairtrade Network Fairtrade Schools Conference on 26th February, where 110 children and teachers from across the South West learnt about Fairtrade at the SGS College in Filton, and in particular about Fairtrade cotton. A real highlight of the Bristol day was a skype conversation between the students and our factory in India that makes the world’s first ever school blazer made with Fairtrade cotton.
Later in the first week I made my way gradually Northwards, conducting some very productive educational sessions with
Haydock High School students in St Helens, before hot-footing it to Clitheroe for an afternoon with some very “switched on” students at Waddington Primary.
Then it was straight up to Carlisle, where I conducted some excellent Assemblies and classes with Carlisle schools, including St Margaret Mary’s, Wiggonby C of E Primary, Newlaithes, then later in the Fortnight back again to Carlisle for an Assembly at Brompton Primary, Carlisle’s first ever Fairtrade school. We had a fantastic Assembly at Newlaithes, when I also did a couple of geography classes and was able to show the films from our India visit, against a background of some very informed and searching questions from the students.
After Carlisle it was up to Arbroath for the week-end (the golf courses are pretty good in Scotland aren’t they?!), then a very good and productive visit to Arbroath Academy to kick-start the Scotland leg of the tour. Arbroath Academy seemed to like the new Koolskools school blazer made with Fairtrade cotton, and this and the other Koolskools garments seemed to meet with universal approval as I wound my way across Scottish schools, including: Our Lady and St Joseph’s and St Monica’s at North Lanark; Muirfield Primary; Holy Rood High and Duddingston Primary in Edinburgh; and finally Newburgh Mathers Primary school in Newburgh, North of Aberdeen. Interspersed with a very productive meeting with Angela Oakley of the Scottish Fairtrade Forum, this was probably our most intensive and certainly longest tour of Scotland to date, very much we think an indicator of the interest on the part of Scottish schools in all things Fairtrade. We are pleased to say that since the tour Duddingston, Carlogie and Newburgh Mathers have all introduced some koolskools Fairtrade cotton uniform – great result!
Whilst all this was going on in Scotland, Mike found time to visit East Sheen Primary for an excellent session with the students there, and also to travel to Bristol where Koolskools won the “Best Fairtrade Business 2014” in the Bristol and South West Fairtrade Business Awards ceremony (check out our blog).
So, all-in-all a most rewarding Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 for Koolskools. We remain knee-deep in the follow-up, and we are trying our best to work with each school that we visited, so that all of those school students who showed us so clearly that they really wanted to wear some Fairtrade cotton uniform, can ultimately do so.