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Fair trade in a special school

Personal and Social Education

Fair trade in a special school

Learners with varying additional needs at a special school develop the practical skills necessary for everyday life and independent living through their participation in a wide range of PSE projects linked to education for sustainable development and active citizenship. Projects the school has developed over a number of years include:

  • an environmental task force
  • Eco Centre
  • recycling road show
  • citizenship tree
  • a global fairness drama
  • European and international linking.

Following a suggestion by the school council, it was decided to open a fair trade shop. Working closely with Traidcraft, a national fair trade organisation, the school trained a group of 14 to 19-year-old learners to run the shop. They learned how to develop a business plan, carry out market research with other learners and staff, order items, carry out stock checks and develop their financial literacy skills through handling money and managing accounts.  During PSE sessions learners researched global issues including inequalities of wealth and fair trade. They used their findings to put together a play called ‘Spread the news’ which they performed at a special launch of the fair trade shop, Traidrite, as part of Fair Trade Fortnight. Learners also organised a tasting of fair trade products including tea, coffee, and fruit. The shop opens daily and is used by learners, staff, and families creating a positive sense of identity for learners within their community. The fair trade shop project was partly funded and supported by the Community Focused Schools Initiative and also by a BT Citizenship Award.

Such participative PSE activities have enhanced the personal and social skills of learners and have had a very positive impact on self confidence and self-esteem. Relationships and mutual trust have improved due to learners and staff working along side each other. Annual review meetings are used to evaluate the progress of learners and individual education plans set regular targets for each individual taking part in active citizenship activities. The number of learners acquiring accreditation through the Duke of Edinburgh Award at silver and bronze level is increasing each year. The local and global citizenship projects, including the fair trade shop, contributed to the school achieving the UNICEF 'Rights Respecting Schools Award' as a recognition of its holistic approach.

Links with the PSE framework


Learners are given opportunities to:

  • work both independently and  cooperatively to plan and complete a range of tasks
  • reflect on the roles played in group situations, including leadership
  • apply learning to similar situations within and outside school
  • manage time and meet deadlines
  • develop practical skills necessary for everyday life.


This project contributes to the Preparing for lifelong learning, Active citizenship and Sustainable development and global citizenship themes. Learners are given opportunities to:

  • take personal responsibility for actions and decisions related to learning.

They are also given opportunities to understand:

  • their aptitudes and interests in order to make informed choices about learning and future studies
  • the economic and ethical consequences of personal financial decision-making as a consumer, e.g. Fairtrade.

Future plans

The school is investigating the Millennium Volunteers programme as a way of recognising the voluntary hours that post-16 learners commit to school projects.

Related Links

The PSE framework provides the foundation for a broad, balanced holistic approach to PSE.