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Ringwood School Update 2014: Community

FAIRTRADE CAKE BAKE AND SALE

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A Fairtrade bake sale is a customary part of the Fairtrade group’s early Christmas celebrations. Thanks to to Mrs Waine and to students of all ages, several students were able to stay after school for a bake-off in food technology.  The event was sponsored by Sainsbury of Ringwood and we are very grateful to Vikki Jordan for her support.

Our bake sale and sale of Fairtrade goodies followed the next day when we were joined by Mrs Whalen’s smoothie makers and by a lady who made up a display of crafts from the Philippines. These were sold in aid of the PCF, a group who support highly disadvantaged children in the Philippines. Despite students mistakenly thinking they could pay on ‘cashless’ as they are accustomed to doing now, all cakes sold and again we are grateful to have had the support of Sainsbury’s Ringwood.

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FONCHO’S FAIR BANANAS PETITION

Bananas were the focus for this Fairtrade Fortnight!  Despite seeing more Fairtrade bananas than ever in the UK only 1 in 3 bananas are sold as Fairtrade! This is due to  severe pressure in the banana business to keep prices low and it’s why this Fairtrade Fortnight a special campaign is launched that aims to transform the banana industry to ensure those at the sharp end of the supply chain, the millions of struggling banana farmers like Foncho, get a fair deal. It’s a campaign to ‘Make Bananas Fair’.

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Above: one of the Co-op’s small Ringwood shops. 100% Fairtrade

The issue is that bananas are sold as ‘loss leaders’ by supermarkets, to attract the shopper. There is a price war amongst some to offer the lowest possible prices. Students took photos of bananas in supermarkets in and near Ringwood and unearthed the scale of bad practice. We found supermarkets were all offeerng bananas during Fairtrade Fortnight at 68p/kg. While the excellent Ringwood stores of Sainsburys, Co-operative and Waitrose were selling 100% Fairtrade bananas at this price, shops such as Tesco were selling NON Fairtrade for 68p/kg. Marks and Spencer claimed ‘price matching’ – 68p/kg for their NON-Fairtrade bananas was ‘matched’ against others (eg Waitrose and Sainsbury) Fairtrade price. Our display is up for all to see in Ringwood School reception.

The issue was explained to students in all tutor groups. As a result, over 1000 students signed Foncho’s ‘Make Bananas Fair’ petition. We highlighted the issue with a Foncho Bike and Bake. Thanks to Sainsbury for supplying the bananas!

YEAR 7 FAIRTRADE TRASHION SHOW

Our newly formed Year 7 Fairtrade group did an amazing job at putting together a Fairtrade and recycled fashion show and this launched our Fairtrade Fortnight activities. The show was opened by the Bag Monster who made a reappearance at Ringwood after a two year gap!  Constructed from polythene bags that

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represent an average family’s use over 6 months, he made a flamboyant entry!  Vintage clothes were supplied by OXFAM, Save the Children and Cancer UK.  These clothes were far from ‘trash’ and were often beautiful vintage garments.

Fairtrade clothes were donated by Timber and cotton T-shirts by Ringwood Sainsburys. People Tree also supplied a box.  Accessories such as hats, scarves and purses were lent to us by Shop Equality of Eastleigh and by TImber.

There were some spectacular examples of clothes made from waste, such as garments made from ironed plastic. Year 7 students were particularly imaginative! Despite a real shortage of rehearsal time the result was a huge success, and lot of fun. It certainly highlighted the understanding that some of our Year 7 students have of the importance of Fairtrade. Students learnt new skills introducing a team of Year 7  students were introduced to the intricacies of sound and light.

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SATURDAY AT THE MEETING HOUSE IN RINGWOOD

Fairtrade events continued with an event in a lovely Grade II* listed building, the Meeting House in Ringwood. Heidi’s delicious Fairtrade cakes were sold and we were joined by other community groups who set up stalls. We were delighted that Dorothy, a banana producer could drop in – and make a banana smoothie!

India and Libbie helped with the smoothie-making energy bike and set up a stall selling Fairtrade goods and ran a raffle (thanks to Sainsbury and the Cooperative for two lovely hampers). We were delighted that our own Millie Wells and her Mum won one of the hampers! India, Libbie Jonathan, Isaac, Leon and Elliott set up a small recording studio in a quiet corner of the meeting House.

Students took huge pleasure from a really lovely interview with Dorothy about her life and the importance of Fairtrade to banana growers. We hope to have a transcript of that interview very soon from the Fairtrade Foundation

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Above – setting up a recording studio

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A group of Year 7 students planned our Foncho Bike and Bake. Cakes were baked, Fairtrade products were brought in and bananas were celebrated!  Our energy bike was in demand as it was used to make Fairtrade banana smoothies! Next time we will improve the smoothies with more Ben and Jerry’s Fairtrade ice cream!  e also had a Fairtrade stall, run by Kirsty and Amy where we sold non-food items such as friendship bracelets. thanks to Shop Equality for their support with this.  Profits from this break time event were used to purchase solar lights for Africa.

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Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham, 2013 Young Ambassadors for Global Education, were joined by Global Campaigners, Katy Barrett and Samantha Kimberley. They travelled to London to join with other young people who were deeply concerned about the 57 million children worldwide who are missing out on education.

The four were invited to Oxfam HQ for the morning while in the afternoon they had a private meeting with Lynne Featherstone.  At Oxfam HQ Ringwood students presented their work to other young advocates for global education. They were careful to allow other schools to show what they had done in their own brilliant campaigns.  The aim was to prepare a collage representing all campaigning by Ringwood School and the others. This was then to be presented to Lynne Featherstone, Undersecretary of the Department for International Development. Students much enjoyed hearing about other schools’ campaigns and decided that making the collage was fun.  The final piece looked great and eve if OXFAM offices seem dull to those who work there, they are fiendishly exciting for children.

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Their time with the Minister arrived finally. Students went in in cabs to the Department for International Development, DFID, in Whitehall where their private meeting with Lynne Featherstone MP took place. Students’ photos were taken with the minister together with the collage made earlier in the day. The meeting with Ms Featherstone followed and students enjoyed  the opportunity to ask questions.  They included questions such as, “How can we ensure that children who are disabled get the education they need?” and, knowing how poor some teaching had been in Delhi, “How can we make sure that teaching is of good quality?”  The meeting was ably chaired by our Global Ambassador, Sam Whittingham.

Ms Featherstone warmed to students’ questions and answered them as honestly as she could. They learnt a great deal about what the government is doing to try to ensure that the quest for getting all children into education by 2015 is addressed. At the end of the meeting students formally presented Lynne Featherstone with their collage and discussed each school’s efforts to help the Send My Friend to School campaign.  They were slightly surprised to learn that at this point she seemed completely unaware that Millie and Sam had been to India on a fact-finding mission to the slums!

Ms Featherstone said, ”It was fantastic to meet such passionate children who care so much about the world they are growing up in and helping to shape. I was impressed by their understanding of the importance of education and their commitment to help less fortunate children across the world receive the education they deserve. Education acts as a ladder out of poverty and helps young people reach their full potential. Making sure children in developing countries get a good education is a priority for DFID and we are working with other countries to make sure that education is an important part of the new set of development goals to be agreed in 2015.”

Below:Millie, Sam, Sam and Katy particularly enjoyed the company of students from Kingsbury School, a school that makes a great contribution to the campaign. It was good to spend time with these students who understood the issues so well. Immediate friends!

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A TALK FOR THE UNA

Millie, Sam, and Samantha gave an inspiring and professional presentation to the United Nations Association UK on ‘Universal Primary Education for All. Will we meet the Millennium Development Goal? They talked of their own experience in the slums of Delhi in 2013 and the way in which they have taken this forward with the setting up of a team of students who work with them. That team is the Global Campaigners. They were joined by Peter Williams OBE, long term member of the education Committee of the UK National Commission for UNESCO. He reaffirmed that although progress had been made, it was the slum children, those in minority groups, the disabled, and those displaced by war, disaster who are so difficult to reach.

SYRIA

The Global Campaigners met early in the year with someone from the Steve Sinnott Foundation to make plans for the year. Could Ringwood become a ‘Unesco School’? How could we focus action on issues like Syria – so difficult to understand. The photo below (in Syria T shirts) shows the ‘movers and shakers’ who planned!

Syria is a crisis for children. Several students felt very strongly about the plight of these children and wanted to do something. After learning about Human Rights, many signed this petition which went to the United Nations http://www.aworldatschool.org/page/s/syriaOthers Tweeted and several students wrote to politicians.

Two tutor groups sent 30 small postcards to politicians, and students in Mr Denham’s tutor group all wrote letters to Justine Greening, David Cameron, Desmond Swayne and Lynne Featherstone. Nadia and Lauren (below) were thrilled to get replies from Downing Street, Desmond Swayne and from DFID.

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Below: Global Campaigner students who made sure Syria stories are Seen and Heard

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Global Campaigner students who made sure Syria stories are Seen and Heard

The Campaigners made sure Syrian refugees are not forgotten, by sharing the personal stories of the crisis with our MP, Desmond Swayne

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Three years after the start of the Syrian civil war, Campaigner students at Ringwood School have written postcards to Mr Swayne, sharing the stories of refugees, in the hope that Syrian voices do not go unheard.  As part of Oxfam’s ‘Seen and Heard’ campaign, the school collected over 1000 postcards that were  presented to Desmond Swayne, MP at a special meeting on Friday morning. The presentation was made by Year 7 student Lauren Christopher who with three friends wrote letters to Mr Swayne and to David Cameron about their concerns.

Lauren P, Year 7, was concerned about the effect of the conflict on children, the so called ‘lost generation. Mr Swayne agreed stating, “If religious and ethnic conflict ended tomorrow, it would still take decades to restore Syria to the position it was 3 years ago.  Syria was a developed modern state where education was well provided for – not primitive. Schooling was well advanced and this has been knocked back substantially. It was a millennium goal to provide every child in the world with primary school education. If you are a Syrian it’s a tragedy.”

Mr Swayne agreed that, “To spend money wisely on education in those parts of the world is perhaps the student best investment that we could possibly imagine.”

In answer to Katie Silver’s question he said he was, “Deeply sceptical about taking in of refugees. We have a situation of 4 million people who ahve fled from Syria. The taxpayer’s  pound is spent so much more effectively in bringing relief to people in surrounding countries than bringing in a very small number of people to this country.

James Shelton played Devil’s advocate asking whether money would be better spent on flood defences. Mr Swayne launched into a clear distinction between charity and aid and said that  5000 homes were flooded this year, but 60,000 were flooded two years ago:  8,000,000 people have been protected with the  flood prevention schemes the government has invested in. “We are quite capable in investing in all the needs of the British people and economy without taking belief away from the world’s poorest people.” He thanked the students for their own understanding and their drive to ensure Syrian children are not forgotten.

The initiative was led by our Global Campaigners team (below). This group of committed students aged between 14 and 18  delivered assemblies and presentations in tutor groups to all years to raise awareness of the plight of the children of Syria. Students throughout the school responded by writing short messages on postcards to Mr Swayne.

A teacher who helped organise the event said: “We know how children and families are suffering because of the war in Syria, and our students wanted to let others know about the plight of children in particular. By joining Oxfam’s campaign, students’ collective voice could call on leaders to do more to secure peace so that Syria is not forgotten.”

She added: “As a result of Millie Wells’ and Sam Whittingham’s experiences in the slums of Delhi in 2013, our students know and believe that all children have the right to go to school. Yet so many Syrian children have lost this right because of the war. We want to help keep their stories alive in the hope that one day soon the children of Syria get to return to their classrooms and they do not become a lost generation”

Written by Global Campaigners James Shelton and Jordan Whalen. Both are now at University

Below- some of the Global Campaigners

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MORE ADVOCACY AND CAMPAIGNING AT A GLOBAL LEVEL

Four Global Campaigner students, Millie, Bronwen, Lucy and Samantha joined Oxfam and 1000 supporters in London for a candlelit vigil in Trafalgar Square. The vigil was held to mark the third anniversary of the war in Syria and coincided with similar events throughout the world. With more than 2.2 million refugees, the Syria crisis is often expressed in numbers, but these students want to ensure that Syrians aren’t just another statistic.

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The aim of the vigil was to call upon world leaders to commit to making this the last anniversary to be marked by bloodshed. The candlelit vigil included an eye catching light projection onto Nelson’s Column. The students said, “This was part of a global event where we joined with thousands around the world standing for the #with Syria campaign, from London to Moscow and Washington. We were really proud to represent the Global Campaigners and found it very meaningful.

We are really aware and much saddened by the fact that in November 2014, that over half the population of Syria have been displaced. This is a problem of monumental proportions. 

Message in a Book

Studentsarranged for the second time, the collection of good second hand books, to collect messages   written by students and then to stick them inside the front cover of a book. Students chose to write messages about poverty and the problems of those out of school – especially those with a disability

We are grateful to the many who donated books and to the authors of some very inspiring messages. The books were taken to an OXFAM bookshop in Lymington and we hope their customers enjoyed reading students’ messages

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Education for All Day

Ringwood School’s first Education for All Day focussed on girls out of school.  The day was a resounding success but by July 2014, there still 57 million children denied an education, any many of these have a disability, so for our second EFA Day we concentrated on children with visual disability.

Many youngsters care deeply about issues that affect them personally but we wanted our young people to imagine, and to a limited extent, to experience being partially sighted. Thus our day began with a visit from Guide Dogs for the Blind. The school recycles stamps for both this organisation and the RNIB. Students decided that a large donated collection of first edition stamps should go to Guide Dogs for the Blind.  A puppy trainer and a Paul, who is visually disabled, explained to the rapt student audience how a dog makes a difference to someone’s life. The dogs themselves called for immediate student engagement!

 

The role of our campaigning team

Twenty four students aged 14-18 constitute a team, the ‘Global Campaigners’ who now took over the remaining parts of the day. Working with tutor groups, two Global Campaigners facilitated a sequence of experiments, gradually guiding students towards the less familiar with a good simulation of gradual blindness.  They made ‘feely bags with meaning’ and had autonomy over the way in which they were used.  Objects chosen were particularly significant for someone who was partially sighted. Finally the Campaigners introduced braille, giving students the opportunity to experience it themselves. The braille activity was provided by SIghtsavers who gave a short presentation of what it is to be partially sighted in many countries in Africa. Students were asked to reflect on Paul’s experiences with his guide dog and to consider how different it is from that of people in countries such as Rwanda.

Lucy, one of our sixth form Global Campaigners, had visited Rwanda, experiencing not just the impact of the genocide but the education system. She was able to visit a school for the blind and gave a moving presentation to our students. Thus the young people’s personal experiences and passions were gradually extended with a global dimension. There was next an opportunity to explore similarities and differences and links between that young people’s lives in UK with the lives of youngsters in communities elsewhere, including Rwanda.

 

Lucy’s thoughts

I am currently a member of the Global Campaigners Group at Ringwood School. The group aims to have a positive influence on a number of current world issues such as the governmental backing of child education in conflict zones and educating girls in less developed countries. I have visited Rwanda with a charitable trust dedicated to alleviating poverty by supporting education, humanitarian and health projects. I have seen first -hand the issues faced by those with disabilities trying to gain an education in a third world country. Whilst in Rwanda I visited HPV Gatagara- a boarding school for those with visual impairment, this is one of just two schools for the visually impaired. Here they receive a good education with facilities adapted especially for the visually impaired; without access to a school like this the disabled often end up homeless due to stigmas associated with disabilities.  My trip to Rwanda and the places I visited fitted perfectly with our theme for the Education for All day. It was a privilege to be able to share my experiences and educate the younger students about the difficulties faced by those with disabilities and the important role that the EFA day plays in making an impact on society. For me the day was interesting, educational and provided an opportunity to lead younger students and to share my experiences. I found it deeply rewarding to see other students’ enthusiasm for bringing about a change. 

The notion that sustainability is about care is familiar to teachers, but nowhere is it more significant than on an Education for All Day. Our students, through a range of activities, considered care for the individual, for communities and the environment. However, we thought that EFA DAY, as with all global citizenship should also encompass change so we now required our students to take action. Still working with the Campaigner team, students were asked to move into advocacy for the 57 million children out of school, and in particular for those with disabilities.

 

Thus we now asked students to write persuasive letters or postcards to our MP, to David Cameron, to Justine Greening and Lynne Featherstone. Through the Campaigners they also tweeted to these people, DfiD and a host of other bodies whose addresses we had found beforehand.  A good helper: student ratio is helpful and allows discussion before any written statements are made.  Our Global Campaigners were invaluable in this respect. Preparation such as this is essential as are tiny prompts for needier students.

We also wanted to support the Send My Friend to School Campaign whose focus on disability this year coincided with our own. Thus creative juices flowed as students wrote messages to Desmond Swayne, our MP on their beautifully decorated cardboard figurines. After a group photo for 270, the figures were collected and displayed in long lines along the entire length of both sides of a long corridor. They will shortly be taken to Desmond Swayne.

What did students get out of it?

For a few students EFA Day provided time for reflection: what would it be like if they had no school?  While that prospect might fill them with immediate joy, after reflection, almost all students recognised the impact this would have!  We hope that Global Campaigners’ skills (and those of their teachers) provided the confidence and knowledge to help students to apply their natural concerns, about for instance, unemployment, inequality and education itself, to a broader global perspective.

Considering values such as fairness, justice and equality is part of adolescent experience. We know that our EFA DAY allowed youngsters to think about these values in different contexts and it allows a teacher to experience children’s responses. They are sometimes very different to those we see in a ‘normal’ lesson. Critically for students, the day supported their understanding of what’s going on in the wider world. As a teacher I feel I have a remit to broaden youngsters’ perspective and to weave a global dimension into mainstream work with young people. Our EFA Day certainly provided opportunity for this and added value to my everyday practice with children.

Final words rest with Sophie , Year 10, who had watched her sister  work with the Global Campaigners throughout 2014. Sophie had the opportunity to join.

 Sophie’s thoughts

I joined the Global Campaigners group in June this year so participated in leading the ‘Education for All’ day. I found it to be a highly valuable and interesting experience in that I learned many new things about the lack of education in impoverished areas and what we, as a school and the wider community, are able to do about it. I think it is essential that everyone should be aware of how important education is and that what many of us take for granted would be a ‘dream come true’ for someone who has never before had access to an education. In my role as student organiser and leader, I found the day really eye-opening and I am going to continue being a part of the Global Campaigners group as I think the group is really working to make a difference and improve lives all around the world.

Photos from our EFA DAY

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GLOBAL EDUCATION CHALLENGE

Ringwood School launched their Global Education Challenge in Spring 2014, to allow schools plenty of time for preparation. This saw groups of students in different schools taking on the challenge of improving the educational opportunities for children in a developing country with £500.  The competition was open to junior and secondary schools in the surrounding area and from further afield. We shortlisted inspiring projects from Hordle Primary and Lymington Junior School, and from Burgate and Wildern Secondary Schools.

Students gave short presentations in front of a panel of judges and the Global Campaigners. While judges deliberated, Fairtrade cakes, made by Heidi Attwill, were served. Judges were impressed by all four schools but the detailed costing and attention to detail won the competition for Wildern and For Lymington. Their winning teams received £500 to improve education in their chosen area.

We now hope both groups will have an opportunity to visit London, and hopefully Parliament, next term, in addition to receiving £500 for their causes. Through Roots and shoots we would like to offer a huge well done to all four schools and commiserations for the many schools who didn’t quite reach the final.

Photos show the winning schools, some evidence of brainstorming and Heidi’s ‘Education for All’ day home-made cakes!

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