Prestigious award shortlisting for Eco 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 grew her own dye garden and began extracting and dyeing with colour from the plants, making inks from berries and foraged botanicals. This initial experimental work has now transferred into the classroom, with all colours used for dying created using natural ingredients and pupils using ink, glue and print pastes made in-house using environmentally-friendly methods. Fabrics used include up-cycling old sheets to dye and construct garments with.

The aim is to create the first ever Eco Textiles A Level course which can then be rolled out to other schools.

Pupils have also been encouraged to shop in charity shops, swap and make their own clothes.

Headington is working with garden designer Lottie Delamain on her Natural Dye Garden design for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. Textiles students will work with Mrs Turnbull to dye fabrics to be suspended in giant frames above the dye plants. The garden will be relocated to Headington School where plants will be tended for use in future dyeing projects.

The first cohort of Lower Sixth students are designing their own range of Kimonos, using a range of printing and dying techniques taught on the course.

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.

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