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Investigating fairtrade
Highest-valued exports

Global trade - Investigating fairtrade

This lesson highlights the positive impact that buying fairtrade products has on communities in other countries.


In this lesson pupils investigate the fairtrade approach to global trade. Pupils learn the geographical terms ‘more developed’ (developed) and ‘less developed’ (developing) countries and how these relate to fairtrade. Pupils learn about the positive impact that people buying fairtrade has on communities of farmers and manufacturers in less developed countries, for example through better working conditions and a fair working wage. In the main activity pupils create a poster ‘Why Pay More?’, outlining the benefits of fairtrade and link different types of fairtrade products such as flowers and jewellery to their source location on a map.

Ideally, this lesson should take place after a Mathematics data handling lesson in the morning, when pupils create a bar chart of the price of a range of fairtrade and non-fairtrade items.

Pupils use the Price Data and Bar chart resource provided (table only, bar chart is only used if pupils do not complete the linked Maths lesson) which displays images of a range of popular items (chocolate, brown sugar, black tea, mango smoothie, cotton wool, gold jewellery, beauty products, cotton, coffee, flowers, Balasport footballs) and their fair and non-fairtrade retail prices.

They record the data on the fair and non-fairtrade price of these products in table format with clear column labels and title before creating a bar chart on graph paper. Pupils conclude that fairtrade products do cost more to buy. Explain that in the afternoon geography lesson we will learn the reasons why pay more for fairtrade.

Linked Maths Lesson

Mathematics: National Curriculum KS2 Ma 4 (Data Handling)
Pupils to select and use handling data skills to discover trends in global trade and identify data needed to solve word problems related to trade.
Ma 4 (2a) Solve problems involving data; b) interpret tables, lists and charts involving data on global trade, construct tables and charts; d) Use the terms ‘mode’ and ‘range’ to describe data sets; e) recognise whether data is discrete or continuous; f) draw conclusions from statistics and graphs)
If the pupils do not carry out the linked maths lesson, they use the table and bar chart included in the resources Price Data and Bar chart resource and Price comparison resources to support lesson four.

Key questions

  • What is fairtrade?
  • Do fairtrade products cost more to produce and purchase than non-fairtrade products?
  • Why might fairtrade products cost the consumer more?
  • Why should we pay more for fairtrade products? What is the benefit?

Subject content areas

  • Locational knowledge: Pupils are introduced to case studies of fairtrade industry in a range of locations globally.
  • Place knowledge: Learning about conditions of places and populations practicing fairtrade.
  • Physical geography: Describe and understand key aspects of physical geography of places.
  • Human geography: Describe and understand key aspects of human geography, including fairtrade, and how global trade affects the lives of workers in less economically developed countries.
  • Geographical skills and fieldwork: Presenting data related to global trade in table and graph form, and draw conclusions on the data on fairtrade and non-fairtrade products.


Additional resources needed

  • Atlases

Additional links


Recap that trade is global (imports, exports, and global supply chain).

Explain there are huge benefits to global trade, however it needs to be done in a way that benefits the workers in the early stages of the supply chain (farmers, miners etc).

Introduce the terms ‘less developed’ and ‘more developed’ countries on the Investigating Faritrade PPT and link this to stages of the supply chain (primary, secondary, tertiary).
Often the primary stage is in less economically developed countries and the tertiary in the more economically developed).
Show the table of the wealth of different continents on Investigating Faritrade PPT and discuss.


Main Teaching

Define the ‘fairtrade’ approach to global trade: “Trade between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are paid to the producers”.
Go to YouTube website to play an introductory video on Fairtrade

Ask a pupil to volunteer to read the Fairtrade Foundation statement on the Investigating Faritrade PPT. Go through the benefits to fairtrade on the following slide and discuss as a whole class or in small groups. 

Examine the pie chart of fairtrade products by volume and ask pupils whether they can remember any other products you can buy fairtrade from the homework research task set last week.

Go to the Fairtrade foundation website to see an interactive world map of Fairtrade producers on the Interactive Whiteboard.

Revisit the morning findings in Mathematics and bar charts created (if did optional maths lesson), otherwise look at example bar chart on Investigating Fairtrade PPT/ downloadable resource Price Data and Bar Chart) showing difference in price of fair and non-fairtrade items. Conclude fairtrade items are more expensive to buy. Encourage the pupils to think about why this may be (Fairtrade minimum price, Fairtrade premium).

Main Activity

Pupils create a poster using the template provided Why Pay More? (Enlarge to A3).

They write the reasons why people should pay more for fairtrade products and the positive impact of buying fairtrade products on people in developing countries.
They illustrate their poster with pictures of different fairtrade products (five from the price comparison table- football, chocolate, gold ring, roses, face cream) linking their source location the correct location on the world map.

Success criteria-
1) Pupils show five products and link these to five places they have located using their atlas.
2) They list at least three reasons why consumers should pay more for fairtrade products.


Pose the question: which product has the biggest price jump when it is fairtrade?

Pupils present their posters to the class and explain content as a persuasive argument for choosing fairtrade products. 

Pupils offer feedback to one other using the teacher’s preferred peer review technique e.g. two stars and a wish.

Discussion questions: What are the positive impacts on the communities when we purchase fairtrade items? When we are purchasing items in our shops should we try to understand why an item may be cheaper or more expensive? (E.g. consider those who have made the items and their working conditions).

If time permits, teacher can also follow the links below so pupils learn more about specific fairtrade products:

Go to the Balasport website to find out about fairtrade football 
Go to the HK jewellery website to find out about fairtrade gold

Ask pupils to bring in a fairtrade product each for a fairtrade tea party next week.

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