Cotton Resources for Classrooms

Educational Resources

SFTF Educational Cotton Resources for Classrooms

Cotton Unfolded - an online exhibition

With great images and telling messages this exhibition is a useful resource for anyone wishing to teach or learn about the story of cotton.  It draws on the history of cotton manufacturing in Scotland and gives examples of how successful campaigners and reformers succeeded in outlawing unjust practices.  It suggests that conditions now considered unacceptable for workers in the UK have simply moved elsewhere.  It explains how Fairtrade cotton offers a fair future for cotton production.  A series of cartoons, engravings, photographs and a modern day illustration tell the story.  The accompanying interpretations are packed with information and a list of links to relevant websites allows further research into this subject.  For young learners and students there is a useful list of Further Educational Resources.

The UK Education Systems
This table gives an overview of the different age-group stages within the UK education systems.

Policy Example
This will help your school draw up a Fairtrade cotton school uniform policy that you could adopt as part of our Fairtrade Cotton Schoolwear Campaign.

Fairtrade Schools Focus on Cotton
For more information on cotton see the Fairtrade Foundation's cotton pages.

Story: The Cotton Fields and the Astronaut
This short story, specially written for the Forum by David Armstrong, is an excellent resource to use as an introduction to cotton and the issues surrounding it.  It is written from the viewpoint of an Uzbekistani school pupil who works in the cotton fields.  David has very kindly given permission for it to be used in schools.

Making Shirts is a game exercise designed to encourage children aged seven to ten to think about how trade works through making them experience unfair trade directly. It can be used either on its own or in conjunction with other cotton resources. Click on the above link to download a free copy of the game.

These Fashion Show Notes will help you get started in organising your own Fair Trade Fashion Show!

External Educational Cotton Resources for Classrooms

Christian Aid Resources for Teachers and Youth Leaders
Trading Trainers A 14-page game that highlights the situation facing many poor countries that manufacture trainers - where working hard for a living does not equate to earning a fair amount.  For ages 13+.

Fairtrade Foundation
The Fairtrade Foundation gives advice on organising a fashion show.

Fair Trade In Football
Fair Trade In Football is a campaign set up to help address the injustices in the world of football.  It has now extended to support Fairtrade Rugby.  There are lots of Fairtrade football and rugby activity ideas and information that you can download, including activity resources for a Fair Trade World Cup.  Why not organise your own Fair Trade World Cup?  Click on the above link to find out more and download all the activity ideas.

Hopscotch Theatre Company
Andrew and Fair Trade Fred are great teaching packs aimed at Lower PrimaryMiddle-Upper Primary and Secondary Schools have been put together by Gillian Geddes of the Hopscotch Theatre Company, based on their theatre production 'Brand New Andrew and Fair Trade Fred'.  The packs include lesson plans, activities and explanations of how these are linked to the different areas of the Curriculum for Excellence.  There are also song lyrics about Fair Trade to download..

Hopscotch Theatre has kindly given us permission to put these resources on our website.  If you have trouble in downloading them, please contact us at and we can email you the materials.

Labour Behind the Label
Change your shoes is a series of reports that you can download concerning the labour behind our shoes.  There are also key facts, blogs and stories from those who make our shoes.
Step Into Her Trainers is a resource pack that you can download, and is aimed at 14 to 16 year olds.  It focuses on sportswear and deals with issues of procurement and workers' rights.  It was aimed specifically at schools in the run up to the 2012 Olympics, but still has relevance for today.
Living Wage is a series of facts, figures and resources including a handbook for educators on Sustainable Fashion.
Worker Safety has information, reports and blogs on the working conditions of those who make our clothes and shoes.

Milngavie Primary School
Fairtrade Cotton: Teachers Notes This excellent resource of lesson plans and display ideas was created by Liz Orr at Milngavie Primary School which is ideal for teachers working in P6, P7 or S1.

Labels in our Clothes has been given to The Forum by kind permission of NEAD and the Project Director, Stephen Fairbrass.  For the other resources they gave us, please click here.

Oxfam Education
Looking Behind the Logo is an Oxfam resource for an assembly for pupils aged 13 and over.

Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC)
The Reading International Solidarity Centres is a Development Education Centre in Reading's town centre. They work with schools and community groups to raise awareness about global issues and promote action for sustainable development, human rights and social justice. You can download their pack Passion for Fashion that enables young people to explore their links with contemporaries in the Majority World.

Posters and Leaflets

Fair Trade Cotton Producer poster

Fairtrade Cotton Uniforms leaflet details the key facts about cheap uniforms, why Fairtrade cotton school uniforms are a good alternative and what you can do to encourage your school to buy Fairtrade cotton uniforms and sportswear.

The Problem with Cotton hand-out summarises the many environmental and human issues surrounding the growing of cotton, and this hand-out on Fairtrade Cotton sums up how Fairtrade works to address these issues.

Films and Videos

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)
The EFJ has lots of videos on cotton production, the environmental problems and child labour issues on their cotton films pages.

The Fairtrade Foundation has a short clip on Fairtrade cotton

Information and Reports

Clean Clothes Campaign
The Clean Clothes Campaign's Tailored Wages report gives an in depth look at the practices and policies the 50 largest clothing brands operating in Europe are taking to implement a living wage.  For further reports on the fashion industry please visit the publications page.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)
The EFJ has lots of information on cotton production, the environmental problems and child labour issues on their cotton pages and many reports on their cotton reports pages.

Ethical Consumer
A buyer's guide to school uniforms from the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation giving facts and information and showing the ethical ratings of the High Street brands.

Fairtrade Foundation
The Fairtrade Foundation has information on Fairtrade cotton growers.

Not only do Koolskools supply Fairtrade cotton clothing and school uniforms, but they also have information on the cotton production and the farmers and give presentations in schools.  You can contact them here.

Labour Behind the Label
Labour behind the Label has various educational resources, which can be downloaded. There are also up-to-date reports for you to download.

War on Want
Stitched Up is a report that looks at the terrible working conditions and pay of Bangladeshi women in clothing factories. War on Want also has a report called Up Front: Sweatshops and the Olympics, which looks into the exploitation of workers in poorer countries by the big brand names.  There are also educational resources.