The Furniture Makers’ Company has launched a new initiative that will see it provide a wealth of support to schools that teach design and technology.
The Supported Schools initiative has been launched in response to research that shows the number of schools able to teach design and technology is dropping due to funding issues. The Furniture Makers’ Company is piloting the new scheme in High Wycombe – a hub of UK furnishing manufacture - at John Hampden Grammar School.
The Mayor of High Wycombe, Cllr Brian Pearce, joined Dr Tony Smart MBE, the Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, and Charles Vernon, education chairman at The Furniture Makers’ Company, plus furniture industry dignitaries and representatives from John Hampden Grammar School at a ceremony at the school on 19th March to cut the ribbon on the new partnership.
The collaboration aims to demonstrate to students the importance of design, manufacturing and the many aspects of the furniture and furnishing industry, and promote the available pathways into the sector.
Charles Vernon says: “The teaching of design and technology at GCSE is critical to the long-term prosperity of the UK furnishing industry, which produces more than £11b of product per year and employs 327,000 people across 50,000 registered companies in the wider furniture and furnishings sector, including specialist retail but excluding general retail.
“The Government’s focus on growing the economy and raising productivity by increasing the number of people studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has meant a reduction in funding for the arts. As a result, the number of schools able to offer design and technology is dropping at an alarming rate.
“This new initiative will see the company support selected schools that teach design and technology by providing financial aid, the opportunity to build links with industry, offer factory tours and work experience, and the option to participate in our annual Young Furniture Makers exhibition.
“We are delighted to be piloting this scheme with John Hampden and look forward to working with the school to nurture the talent of its students. We hope to roll out the initiative to a number of schools around the country in regions that have strong links with industry.”
Tracey Hartley, headteacher at John Hampden Grammar School, adds: “We are tremendously excited to work in partnership with The Furniture Makers’ Company. John Hampden began its life as a school passing on High Wycombe’s traditional crafts of cabinetmaking, carving and polishing. This partnership brings that proud history right up to date. Modernised facilities for design and technology will enable our boys to develop the pioneering skills needed in today’s manufacturing. We also look forward to sharing these benefits by hosting workshops for other local schools.”
Pictured are student Maciej Dynos, headteacher Tracey Hartley, Master Dr Tony Smart MBE, Mayor of High Wycombe Cllr Brian Pearce, and education chairman at The Furniture Makers’ Company Charles Vernon.