Fair Trade and Enterprise: It’s not just profit

We recently caught up with Angela Oakley from the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, one of our partners for schools, to chat about Fair Trade activities in schools and how they can link with an embedded enterprising approach.

Pupils from St. Andrew's RC High School wearing Fairtrade cotton hoodies

SES: What is your role with the Scottish Fair Trade Forum?

AO: I'm a volunteer in the Schools Team. I support schools with their Fair Trade activities, for example signposting them to new developments, resources, events etc. I link with the six Scottish Development Education Centres and have a particular interest in Fairtrade cotton schoolwear.

You can see the work of the Schools Team on our website.

SES: Why is it so important for young people to learn about and be aware of Fair Trade?

AO: It teaches them to be responsible global citizens. Fair Trade is a vehicle for teaching and learning, it's a tool and without tools we are restricted in what we can do.

Fair Trade works across the curriculum and can be a fun way to learn in most subjects. It can be anything from reading and writing Fair Trade stories and poems in English to using Fair Trade ingredients as part of Home Economics projects.

Learning about Fair Trade also teaches children and young people about Economics, which is under represented in teaching and learning in Scottish schools.

SES: How does Fair Trade link to Enterprise in the curriculum/in schools?

AO: Students can engage in Fair Trade enterprises to improve their entrepreneurial skills but it's important to learn that there is more to enterprise than profit and that business should be fair.

There is a triple bottom line: social, environmental and economic. Fair Trade shows young people how enterprises can be ethical and sustainable for people and planet whilst raising money - "Not Just Profit", if you excuse the pun.

SES: What are the kinds of skills you think young people and children in schools develop through working with Fair Trade and how do these help them prepare for their future?

AO: Working with a Fair Trade Enterprise in a school environment gives children and young people the opportunity to develop a plethora of general skills (organisational, project management, communication etc.) It also gives them real life experiences and builds their knowledge of issues, such as health and safety issues or the basics of economics, like supply and demand.

Another reason working with a Fair Trade Enterprise can help prepare young people for their future is the personal development it encourages. It's not only entrepreneurial skills that the young people learn but working with these projects boosts their confidence and gives them the experience of working as part of a team and making decisions.

SES: Do you have a favourite or particularly successful Fair Trade enterprising project you've seen go on in your schools?

AO: I like to give Fairtrade cotton schoolwear enterprises a bit of promotion. This is where pupils will sell Fairtrade cotton schoolwear or special items such as leavers' hoodies to their fellow pupils. There are companies such as Koolskools that school enterprises can order from and who make it easy for schools to switch to Fairtrade cotton uniforms.

Another amazing enterprising project comes from Carlogie Primary School - who won the best business plan in Europe for their Fair Trade café. One thing I like in particular about this project is how the class running the café train and support the next class who will take over for them, making it a sustainable and ongoing project.

Those interested in setting up a Fair Trade café can take a look at this super report from a Carlogie Primary School teacher, which gives a detailed insight in to how to set up a Fair Trade café and also has some of the amazing feedback they've had from students involved.

SES: How can schools get involved with Scottish Fair Trade Forum?

AO: If schools are looking for more information on what the Scottish Fair Trade Forum can offer, they can visit the schools page of our website. Registration to join SFTF is free for Fair Trade groups in schools and can be done easily here.

Another way to work with Fair Trade is by getting involved with a local Fairtrade Town Group. You can find a list of Fair Trade Towns Groups in Scotland here.

There are also plenty of ways for Schools to keep in touch with us. You can contact schools@sftf.org.uk to request to be added to our mailing list to receive free Fair Trade news updates for schools. Schools can also sign up to the SFTF newsletter.

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