In March 2011 Forth Valley College succeeded in a bid to become the first college in Scotland to achieve Fairtrade Status, as awarded by the Fairtrade Foundation, London. The status was awarded jointly to Forth Valley College and its student body, through the Students’ Union.
Their project also won the Learner Engagement Award category at the Scotland’s Colleges Annual Awards 2011.
The initial impetus for the Fairtrade campaign arose from support that students and staff in the Business Department were providing for students in a college in Malawi. Learning about the way of life in Malawi and the challenges faced by families struggling to afford an education for their children led to a desire within the team to do more to help.
The staff and students’ union established a steering group to identify a way forward in engaging the wider student body. It worked toward the key goals of:
- agreeing a college policy;
- setting up a Steering Group;
- demonstrating healthy sales of Fairtrade products in college outlets;
- building Fairtrade into the broader curriculum at every level and on every campus.
This led to a range of events to involve students in the development of Fairtrade within the College. These included:
- Fairtrade themed class projects, including “We’re in Business”, based around a Fairtrade café;
- the creation of a Fairtrade section on the colleges VLE, Moodle, with learning materials and activities, including the full length feature film “Black Gold”;
- a Fairtrade workshop facilitated by the Students’ Union Executive team during class representative training.
The College has created a short independent study course on Fairtrade on its VLE and has also invested in a license to show the video “Black Gold” to all students through the VLE and is working to include these two items in the broader curriculum of all full-time students.
The college has used Fairtrade as the central project theme for a new access course, Passport for Learning.
The project is a great example of students getting involved in shaping the actual content of the curriculum as well as an example of developing activities which helped make learning across a range of subjects relevant to student interests and therefore more engaging.