29th August 2014

Taking Fairtrade teaching out of the classroom

There was an interesting piece in the Guardian profiling a school campaign to make sure the bananas supplied through the government's school fruit scheme were Fairtrade.

The headteacher at Polesden Lacey Infant School encouraged pupils to explore the Fairtrade movement as part of the school's commitment to green issues. She helped the children write a letter to the school's fruit suppliers.

The company replied in May, directing them to the banana supplier, who in turn passed them to the Department of Health. Eventually they were informed that schools could not put a label on the fruit because "Fairtrade" was a brand name. The children were not impressed – without the Fairtrade stamp they felt unsure about the fruit.

The children then wrote to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt, demanding a change of policy. They were then directed to the Department for International Development (DfID), but got no response. Finally they wrote to David Cameron, receiving a reply from a ministerial aide saying that the matter had been forwarded back to DfID. Then a month later they got a reply from the Department of Health insisting that although the bananas were not branded as Fairtrade, they were "ethically sourced".

So, not a very satisfying ending, but great to see a school take their Fairtrade learning out of the classroom and into the real world. We need more engagement like this.

How one school's battle for Fairtrade bananas took them all the way to No 10

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