School of rock's fair trade anthem

25th July 2008 at 01:00

Whitelees Primary in Cumbernauld has sold hundreds of copies of its song "Fair trade is the Answer", raising more than amp;#163;1,000 for charity in the process.

Now headteacher Ann Kay is calling for Scotland to adopt the song as its fair trade anthem.

The Whitelees School of Rock has been a resounding success. It was formed after a P3 pupil, Scott Parker, sang John Denver's "Country Roads" at assembly one morning, bowling over Ms Kay and setting her on a mission to unlock the musical talents of more of her students. The result was a school rock band with Scott as its lead singer.

Since then, the band has performed in front of thousands and received permission from Yoko Ono to rewrite the lyrics of "Imagine", the famous John Lennon song, and perform it at the Dynamic Earth centre in Edinburgh for the Eco Schools Scotland 500th green-flag celebration. Their latest success has been to win, in conjunction with P7, the Best Enterprise award at the Scottish Education Awards.

The line-up includes: Scott on vocals and guitar, Kristopher Pen on lead guitar, Jack Boyce on drums, Daniel Kearney on keyboard, Declan Reid, Gary Baird and Connor Ferraioli on acoustic guitar, Carlos Hernandez on bass guitar, and Derek Brown on rhythm guitar. Ainsley Devlin and Fiona Lauder provide backing vocals.

However, it was by using the combined talents of the band and P7 pupils - musical and otherwise - that the school scooped the education award. Following a visit from the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, the school's 64 P7 pupils decided to make fair trade the focus of their enterprise project. They set themselves the challenge of raising awareness of fair trade in their community and raising money to support Sciaf's work.

They split into teams: management, market research and analysis, campaign design and promotion, and sales and finance. To spread the word, they gave presentations on the issues to teaching and support staff and asked them to share the information with their pupils. At parents' evenings, fair trade awareness surveys were conducted, and products, donated by supermarkets, were made available to see and sample.

All this, however, was not enough for the pupils who wanted to spread the message more widely. They decided that a song, written and performed by the Whitelees School of Rock, was the answer.

To do this within their tight budget they needed support. Cumbernauld College was approached by pupils who made their case to assistant principal Tom Dodds, asking for his help with the production of the CD. He agreed.

Every pupil was involved in the composition of the song's lyrics and the band put these to music. In November, they requested studio time from the college. "Fair trade is the Answer" was recorded and its release was planned for mid-February to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight.

Meanwhile, the campaign design and promotion team prepared posters and flyers and sought the support of local shops to display them. They also asked stores already offering fair trade products to play their CD during Fairtrade Fortnight. "The children's financial awareness became clear when they decided on a selling price of either one for amp;#163;3 or two for amp;#163;5," says Ms Kay.

Around 700 copies have been sold, raising more than amp;#163;1,000 which will be spent by Sciaf to train three teachers in Sudan and Cambodia.

The P7 pupils - most of whom will be attending Abronhill High after the summer - have learnt, according to Ms Kay, "the power of their collective voice in the fight for fairness". Now she would like to see the Scottish Government - which under the previous administration declared its ambition to become the first fair trade nation - recognise their hard work. "We are looking for the Scottish Government to take this song on board and make it the song for Scotland."

Hear Whitelees Primary's song at: www.nimbitmusic.comsciaf


Verse 1

What's it like to be poor yet to work hard

What's it like to grow food yet starve

What's it like to live your life yet have no future

What's it like to look around yet see no picture

We need to learn these lessons

We need to learn them fast


We need to work as one

Come on now everyone

We need to work together to stop the suffering forever

We can paint a better picture that will promise them a future

Fair trade, fair trade

Verse 2

Let's connect lives round the world and make a stand

Let's pay a price that's fair and so lend a hand

Let's give them what they deserve today and not tomorrow

Fair trade can make them happy no need for sorrow

We are a global community

No one should come last

Repeat Chorus

Verse 3

Fair trade is the answer

Respect is the goal

We need to work together with our heart and soul

We can make a difference now

And we know how

Fair trade, fair trade.

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