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October 24, 2012

Whatever you’ve got to give

When funds are tight, all too often the added expense of having to pay for training or a set of evening classes is the first to go. But what if money was taken out of the equation altogether and we began to think in terms of what else we could give in return for the time and effort of the teacher. An idea, originally from New York, of a school based on solely on the principles of bartering has just opened in Glasgow.


It is not everyday that a kitchen sink can be used as currency. But at a new city school almost anything could be asked for in exchange for lessons. At the Trade School Glasgow money is not the legal tender and instead the school will run on barter. Teachers will come up with a wish list of items and students who attend will bring along what is requested as payment.

Tea and coffee for the class, fundraising advice or even spreading the word about the lesson are all examples of what could be asked for by teachers from budding students. And already one teacher has said that they are looking for a kitchen sink.

 The school is being set up by the charity Social Care Ideas Factory and will be the first of its kind in Scotland. The first Trade School began in New York and there are now 20 around the world offering classes in everything from plumbing to knitting and language classes.

For the moment all classes in the Glasgow school will based around social care themes and it is hoped that the school will help build stronger, more involved communities within the city. Charlie Barker, director of the Social Care Ideas Factory, said: “We are always on the hunt for the next big idea. I had been looking on the internet to see what kind of things are happening around the world. I had stumbled on the Trade School in New York and I thought that the idea sounded fantastic. Money is tight for everybody and it can be difficult to even pay to do a night class or even to free up your staff for training. So I though there must be a way that we can rally together.”

“I spoke to some of our members to see if they would get on board but it now really seems like it’s catching which is excellent for us. What teachers have to think about is what they need back. That’s the kind of interesting thing because I think a lot of teachers say that they don’t really need anything.”

“But we are saying it can be things such as helping to set up the classroom and bringing tea or coffee to the classes. It might even be taking on the idea after the class and letting other people know about it. When you are not asking for money it’s really difficult for people to consider what that might be.”

Some of the classes already up for grabs at the Trade School include Who Cares We Care which will take place in Ashgill Care Home in the north of the city and will look at how the care home is run, Speaking With Confidence which will offer tips and techniques about how to be an effective speaker and Change Your Life in Two Hours! An Introduction to Life Coaching.

Anyone can teach a class at the Trade School and anyone can go along to a lesson. The idea is that it is open to everyone in the community and that it is free.

“My whole position is really about showing that everybody has got something to offer,” said Charlie.

“We have all got assets and skills but we might not shout about them. We might know stuff that other people might not and others might find that useful.”

The school officially opened for business on  September 25. The majority of classes will take place at the Scottish Youth Theatre but others will take place at venues across the city.

The school will operate during the normal school term and it is hoped that if there is enough interest that it will last until summer 2013 and beyond. All classes will take place at nights and at the weekend to allow people who work to be able to attend.

Charlie said: “A lot of people are interested and quite excited about the whole concept, especially when we are not asking for money. We have been very encouraged by the mix of people interested, it’s not just charitable organisations it’s also been skilled workers including nurses and police and a whole range of people who have different roles within the community. Some of the sessions are now full so that’s great as well.”

To find out more about Trade School Glasgow or to sign up for a class or offer to teach a class visit the website.