Fairtrade Cotton Schoolwear

Fairtrade Cotton Schoolwear at Leith Primary School

Helen Twigg, Volunteer with the SFTF, visited Leith Primary School and asked teacher Dawn Moloney about the school’s switch to Fairtrade cotton schoolwear

 Why was it important for Leith Primary School to switch to Fairtrade Cotton Schoolwear?

Leith Primary School’s switch to Fairtrade Cotton was part of a wider goal to become a Fairtrade school. They also used the switch as the inspiration for a specific scheme of work on cotton, which became an extensive term project in the school. Moreover, having sent a questionnaire to parents, they received 97% positive responses. With overwhelmingly positive parent feedback on Survey Monkey, a scheme of work was designed to educate pupils on cotton production.

Which supplier does the School use?

Leith Primary School uses Koolskools. After some research, pupils were encouraged to write emails to the company as part of their Cotton project. Koolskools replied! The company sent a sample of their product to the school. Because the results from the parent-survey had approved the Fairtrade cotton sweatshirt, the pupils were sent that specific item, and were able to gauge the kind of quality they would receive in bulk. In addition, Andy from Koolskools came to visit Leith during Fairtrade Fortnight and held a series of workshops with the pupils. Impressed by Andy, his engaging, insightful talks on Fairtrade communities in countries like Mauritius, as well as the quality of his company’s products, the school decided on Koolskools as their Fairtrade supplier.

How easy did you find switching to Fairtrade?

The school found the switch to Fairtrade cotton an extremely positive experience. Because the pupils were heavily involved in the process, an aspect of the switch which was actively encouraged by Koolskools, the school felt in control and appreciated the company’s welcoming responses. Not only was the switch an educational experience, the pupils were also able to take ownership of their smart new uniforms and were proud of the change they had helped make! Overall, the complete process took about a year, largely due to the school’s eagerness to embed the switch into the larger Cotton project.

How did you add the school logo?

The school sent Andy one of their sweatshirts and he began making samples. Over a two month period, the school received different designs of the sweatshirt: the pupils felt part of the creative process and enjoyed receiving mail from Andy!

Did you meet any obstacles? How were these obstacles overcome?

The questionnaire was designed to give parents an opportunity to raise any issues about a possible switch. The school was sensitive to the change in price, however, the majority of parents responded positively to the one-off purchase and the raise in price of £1.00. In fact, the sweatshirt sold out faster than expected and the school had to order a second bulk for the infants!

What do Leith Primary School pupils/staff/parents think of their Fairtrade cotton schoolwear?

The combination of positive feedback from families, the pupils’ understanding of the context of Fairtrade cotton, and the overall agreement on the better quality of the product has helped the school gauge the response to the switch. Pupils are proud to wear their sweatshirts, and because they know the impact their decision has made on a particular community in Mauritius, the switch is even more personal.

The price, quality and delivery service of the school's Fairtrade cotton products.

Koolskools has not charged delivery service and the school has never sold their uniforms for profit. They would strongly recommend other schools in Scotland to switch to Fairtrade.