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Students taking part in Fairtrade Fortnight at Oundle

Responsible thinking

Oundle School have been topping up their green credentials this spring

Posted by Stephanie Broad | April 03, 2016 | Sustainability

This March saw two important sustainability events celebrated at Oundle: Fairtrade Fortnight and Climate Week.

The town of Oundle held an initiative during Fairtrade Fortnight to host as many ‘Fairtrade breakfasts’ as possible. The school’s catering department considered its purchasing and food habits as well as its Fairtrade policy, looking at good and safe working conditions, better prices and fair terms of trade for farmers and producers.

Across the fortnight, the School community sold Fairtrade items during break times, using Fairtrade coffee, tea, sugar and other products including bananas at breakfast and afternoon tea. 

Pupils were encouraged to support the event through their House Food Reps, who are involved in choosing menus with catering staff, and by thinking about their own personal purchasing at break times as well as asking shops about their own Fairtrade policies. 

Fairtrade reps at Oundle

The Fairtrade foundation seeks to work directly with producers and companies and seeks to improve understanding and awareness of the need for Fairtrade and Fairtrade products globally. There are nearly 1,200 certified Fairtrade producers across 74 different countries and 1.5 million Fairtrade farmers. Twenty-five percent of personnel involved in Fairtrade organisations are women.

Head of Oundle’s Environmental Working Party, Ian Clark, commented: “Each teabag, teaspoon of coffee, banana and piece of chocolate means a fair price has been paid to the producer and a proportion of the profit is going to a Fairtrade Premium fund which the community then use to build schools and the like.” 

Oundle School and Laxton Junior School (LJS) also ran their own version of Climate Week in March, hoping to inspire a new wave of action to create a sustainable future. 

Mike Berners-Lee and Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, both visited during the week. Mike delivered the annual Sir Peter Scott Memorial Lecture entitled How can Oundle help create a low carbon world? which was also open to the public, as well as running seminars and workshops with the pupils. Ghillean Prance then talked about the evidence and ethics of climate change.

In a series of workshops and assemblies at LJS and at Oundle School, pupils across all year groups studied various aspects of climate in Biology, Chemistry and Physics; Geography, PSHE, Drama, the Languages and History. There were displays around the school as well as an energy conservation challenge and low carbon meals in the boarding and day houses. 

Climate week with LJS

Geography teacher and event organiser, Philip Pitcher, commented: “The week has stimulated much discussion on what we here at Oundle can do in the future to reduce our carbon footprint. The School, as a direct response, is reviewing where it is sourcing its food and considering low carbon menu changes too.  

“We were delighted to involve the local community with the week long programme of events. The talks from Mike Berners Lee and Ghillean Prance have provided a new sense of determination to link Oundle School with the town in promoting environmental responsibility. 

“It has been wonderful to see the pupils getting so heavily involved, working with local schools and community groups to broaden our understanding of both climate change and the need for sustainability in the future.”

Oundle School already takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. A robust boiler replacement programme in the pipeline; a policy of retrofitting LED lighting wherever possible is in place, and the Buildings department is now leading the way with a “Zero to landfill” policy. School is also looking at introducing some electric vehicles.

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