​Headington School Eco Textiles programme shortlisted for national awards

Posted on 5th May 2022 in School News, Awards, School awards, Fashion & Textiles

Headington’s ground-breaking Fashion Textiles Department has been shortlisted in two prestigious national awards.

The School’s Eco Textiles approach has been shortlisted for Best Experiential Learning in the Muddy Stilettos Best Schools Awards while our Head of Fashion Textiles, Mrs Kate Turnbull, has been shortlisted as best Subject Lead (Secondary) in the highly competitive TES Schools Awards.

This follows a transformation in the way in which Fashion and Textiles is approached throughout the School. Eco Textiles specialist Mrs Kate Turnbull overhauled the curriculum to give pupils the best grounding possible in both sustainability and design. Amid concerns that chemicals used in the classroom were both unnecessary and harmful, along with awareness of the negative impacts of some aspects of the textile industry, Mrs Turnbull looked at a way of reflecting this in Headington’s curriculum. These began with simple changes like embargoing aerosols, acrylic paints and synthetic materials.

Mrs Turnbull said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted for this award, because it will mean so much to the students. Our brand new Eco Textiles cohort is thoroughly -invested in both sustainable and ethical Textiles, so much so that my dream of inspiring other schools to include this in their A Level curriculum is beginning to feel tangible.

“Using this exciting spotlight on Headington, I hope I can reach out to other teachers interested in educating our young minds about the damaging effects of the Fashion and Textiles industry. Not only do our Eco A Level Textiles students make all their own dyes, print pastes and inks from bio waste products and local plant matter, but we spend very little money on fabrics as we take in donations of old sheets to use to be designed and made into garments using zero waste.

“One of the benefits of running the course is that it costs so little to run, making it accessible for everyone. We even have a gardening club where girls from year 7 onwards sow and grow our very own dye plants.”

Students have also had the opportunity to work with garden designer Lottie Delamain and Fashion Revolution, who have created Chelsea Flower Shows first ever dye garden. They have foraged and dyed linen panels, to be suspended above the dye plants in the garden. This will then be relocated to Headington where it will become a permanent feature in the school and also have a working dye garden where girls can forage for dye material for the Eco Textiles course as well as learning about gardening.

Since the Textiles A Level course launched five years ago with just two students, it has grown hugely, with seven due to complete their qualification this year and a record 15 joining in September 2021, as the scope and focus of the course changed to Eco Fashion Textiles. Of those leaving Headington this year, all 7 are pursuing university educations in fashion, textiles, fashion marketing or allied fields. Destinations applied for include Central St Martins, Ravensbourne, Chelsea, London College of Fashion, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, The Ruskin. In addition, the cohort of 25 GCSE pupils are also learning the principles of eco textiles while the horticulture club, new this year, has around 15 pupils involved aged from 11 upwards.

The Muddy Stilettos Awards winners will be announced online on Tuesday 14th June while the TES Schools Awards winners will be announced on Friday 17th June at a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor Park Hotel. Over 400 schools were nominated for the Muddy Stiletto awards across 11 categories, with five schools shortlisted in each category, while hundreds of entries across both state and independent sector were received for the TES Awards.