RSA blog

I have a new blog out on the RSA website –

In this blog I look at the importance of woodwork in early childhood education – building confidence, especially creative and critical thinking skills well as providing a foundation for lifelong learning and incorporating all curriculum areas.

‘As children make with wood they are learning skills that will empower them to shape their world’

Creativity Training in Dubai

Active learning for Early Years

Encouraging Creative and Critical Thinking in Early Years Education by Pete Moorhouse, Dubai

Date: 31 January – 1 February, 2020
Location: UAE, Dubai,
Hotel: Holiday Inn Barsha

This course will focus on how to develop children creative thinking. We will gain an understanding of the importance creativity plays in education and in life as a whole. We will look in detail at the experience of Reggio Emilia and their approach to encouraging creativity and independent thinking. I will present two examples of children’s explorations in depth – Woodwork and Photography. The course will conclude by looking at the role of the teacher and the importance that the environment plays, both indoor and outdoor, in facilitating creative investigation and exploration. The pedagogical approach of Reggio Emilia will be the foundation underlying all the sessions.

Churchill Fellowship Update

early childhood woodwork

Researching the rich potential of creative woodwork in early childhood education
Winston Churchill Fellow 2018- update

My research abroad is now almost complete. The final leg will be to Sweden. It has been such a privilege to travel as a Churchill Fellow – and it has certainly opened up many doors. Through my trips I’ve met leading researchers at Harvard University, The mayor of Helsinki, The director of education for Finland, and many leading academics, authors and policy makers in New Zealand, as well as a great many passionate and dedicated teachers.

I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity, with people often dedicating half a day of their time to being interviewed, having in-depth discussions and showing their provision. (But no-one let on just how much time it takes to set up and coordinate all these appointments!)

My research has been looking into the value of woodwork and making in early childhood education, looking at countries that have well-established provision or have innovative practice. There is wealth of rich practice out there ranging from the well-established making in Finland both in early years and primary education. Every primary school has designated technology spaces for woodwork and fabric work and their work is often directly connected to other areas of learning. In the USA the rise of the maker movement has had a phenomenal impact on education with many schools adopting ‘tinkering labs’ or ‘makerspaces’. In New Zealand woodwork is firmly established in early years settings – it was a delight to see the engagement of very young children working on their models with real tools.

Practical work is highly valued in many cultures but in the UK we have very mixed messages. The sad reality is that the majority of UK school children never get to use tools in their entire education – early years, primary or secondary.  Less than half schools in the UK even offer D&T at GCSE level and courses are being cut almost weekly due to funding and EBacc prioritisation marginalising arts and technology. Meanwhile the government is saying we need more students with practical skills and we need to encourage more students to go into manufacturing, engineering and science. In terms of early years we are also dealing with new challenges – for a generation that is learning to swipe before they can walk we desperately need more hands-on experiential learning.

From my research the value of working with tools is clear. Woodwork is a truly cross-curricular activity embracing all areas of learning. Children almost universally seem to enjoy working with tools, with hands and minds working together and we see extraordinary levels of sustained engagement with high levels of persistence. Raised self-esteem and confidence is central and all teachers highlighted just how important woodwork can be for developing children’s creative and critical thinking skills as children express their imagination and problem-solve. The benefits are truly wide ranging: increased physical development, enhanced well-being, increased sense of agency – that can-do spirit, mathematical thinking, scientific knowledge, artistic expression, craft and design thinking and all of these combine to have a profound impact on children’s learning and development. They are becoming the designers, creative thinkers, architects, engineers of tomorrow. Woodwork also provides a wonderful foundation to go on to more technical ‘making’ incorporating electronics and computing.

I have been in the fortunate position that I get to present regularly at national and regional conferences as well as deliver regular training to teachers so in that way I have almost immediately been able to share findings from my research trips and hopefully these inspire others and already start to have an impact on provision here in the UK. I am now in the process of establishing the Early Childhood Woodwork Association in the UK and The Big Bang Project to further research woodwork and promote woodwork both here in the UK and overseas. I’m looking forward to the final phase in Sweden and then working out just how I can best use this knowledge, how to best make waves in the media and how to really have the greatest impact on provision here in the UK.

Creativity Conference in Northern Ireland

Creativity Unwrapped – understanding and encouraging creativity in early childhood education

Friday 29 March 2019


Early bird rate: £70 members, £90 non-members – available until 15th February 2019
Standard rate: £90 members, £110 non-members – if booked after 15th February 2019


This regional conference looks to demystify and unpack the concept of creativity, looking at what it means in practice, and its value for those working with children. It will explore ways to help extend children’s thinking and learning, maximising their creative exploration of resources and the world around them, and examine the vital role of the adult in supporting this process within delegates’ professional contexts. Through a series of keynotes and workshops, this conference will engage with both the theory and practical elements surrounding creativity, to help encourage best practice in early education and raise outcomes for children.

9.30 Registration opens

10.00 Welcome and introductions

10.15 What do we mean by creativity?
Pete Moorhouse 

In this keynote, Pete will explore what we mean by the term ‘creativity’, exploring the elements that contribute to its key characteristics as a concept. He will focus on ways in which we can observe and extend young children’s creative and critical thinking, highlighting the importance of these skills for providing a solid foundation for lifelong learning. Pete will outline how creativity is vital for responding to life’s challenges and opportunities, for well-being, and for an enriched cultural life. He will also emphasise the importance of monitoring progression in children’s creative development, particularly in relation to disadvantaged children, and then offer ways to identify and enhance this within your practice.

10.45 How to nurture creativity 
Anni McTavish

The creative process is not always comfortable. It takes self-belief, confidence and determination. Both adults and children can be heard to exclaim, “Oh, I’m not creative!” or “No, I can’t do that”.  Anni’s presentation will explore how babies and children’s creativity and thinking develops, and how adults can nurture this across all areas of learning. She will also explore the benefits of building a creative community, and how this can be fostered within the context of your setting.

11.15 Refreshment break

11.30 21st Century digital creativity
Debi Keyte-Hartland

This presentation explores the possibilities for creativity in the 21st Century focusing on the strong need for visual communication, the expression of ideas, and collaboration within an educational setting. Debi will share opportunities to engage with digital media in transdisciplinary contexts that are rich in creativity and expression, illustrated through educator case studies of recent research in this area, and how this can feed into your daily practice.

12.00 Breakout: Workshop Choice 

Choose between one of the three following workshops:

Thinking outside of the box – with Pete Moorhouse

This workshop will involve getting creative through a couple of practical exercises, before analysing them to become more aware of the contributing thinking skills involved, as well as reinforcing the techniques needed to observe children’s creative and critical thinking. It will also reflect on possible open questions that educators can pose to nurture and extend children’s thinking, to continue to provide opportuntiies for children to develop their learning.

What if…? – with Anni McTavish

This session will expand on some of the ideas outlined in the keynote about growing and nurturing creativity. Participants will have the opportunity to take part in some fun, practical arts-based ideas, and tune into their own creativity. There will also be the chance to hear about the successful Creative Thinking and Learning Project, now available as a free online resource. It will give delegates the opportunity to discuss how they might incorporate some of these ideas and further develop positive interactions to enhance creativity in their settings.

Visual Communication: generating rich contexts of critical and creative thinking – with Debi Keyte-Hartland

In this workshop,  the idea of visual communication and theory drawing will be explored. Participants will be able to engage in a hands-on way with ideas that can be used directly in the classroom that generate rich contexts of critical and creative thinking. The session will conclude with a viewing of a film that captures this transdisciplinary learning experience in action with children, to reveal and demonstrate how visual communication can look when media and subject areas are blended in ways that are conducive to the illumination of children’s thinking.

13.00 Lunch and networking

14.00 Breakout: Workshop Choice 

Choose between one of the three following workshops:

Thinking outside of the box – with Pete Moorhouse

What if…? – with Anni McTavish

Visual Communication: generating rich contexts of critical and creative thinking – with Debi Keyte-Hartland

15.00 Panel discussion and plenary

15.30 Close

The programme and timings may be subject to change.

Anni McTavish
Debi Keyte-Hartland
Pete Moorhouse
Event type:
Stranmillis University College, Stranmillis Road, Belfast, BT9 5DY
Friday, 29 March, 2019
9.30am registration, Event runs 10am – 3.30pm

Early bird rate: £70 members, £90 non-members – available until 15th February 2019
Standard rate: £90 members, £110 non-members – if booked after 15th February 2019

EYFS Woodwork training in Oxfordshire

There are  upcoming woodwork training opportunities in Oxfordshire! This is a two part course with a project in between the two sessions to enable you to feel confident and to successfully introduce woodwork into your school or setting.

Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance
Tutor: Pete Moorhouse

From this course you will:

Understand the value and theory of woodwork.
Learn about the historical context of woodwork
Understand the potential of woodwork for creativity and critical thinking
Learn how to introduce woodwork safely, implementing an effective risk assessment.
Understand the most suitable tools for young children and how to use them.
Be confident to develop a woodworking area.
Know where to buy the most appropriate tools and materials

For more information and to book:

OTSA Professional Development AM sessions

OTSA Professional Development PM sessions

Men in Early Years Conference – Bristol – 10th July

3rd National Men in Early Years Conference, on Tuesday 10th July 2018, City Hall, Bristol.

More info

This is going to be an amazing conference!

Bristol Men in Early Years Network write:

– More info on Bristol Men in Early Years BMIEY

This has been the result of months of hard work behind the scenes with the scope of not only raising awareness of gender issues in the Early Years, but actively seeking to put these ideas into action in our everyday practice with children.

We are pleased to put together a day featuring some of most prominent speakers on gender in the Early Years, and invite you to join us in addressing the key questions:

  • How can we effectively tackle the gender imbalance in the workforce, at just 2% male?
  • What do we need to do remove these restrictive stereotypes we place upon children?
  • Why does society not give the profession the status it deserves?
  • What difference can we make about this in the profession and in wider society?


With this, we are proud to announce Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, Lord Robert Winston as one of our keynote speakers.

He will be joined by author of Cleverlands: The Secrets Behind the Success of the World’s Education Superpowers, Lucy Crehan, and star of the BBC2 documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free’’ Graham Andre.

There will be a wealth of knowledge and experience to be shared by our Workshop and Stall Leads and we have invited local Bristol organizations to celebrate the work being carried out across the city to tackle gender inequality.

We are fortunate enough to offer these tickets heavily subsidised. As a Community Interest Company, anything we make will go straight back into the network. Tickets are just £40 and £20 for Standard and Students respectively (plus booking fees). Spaces are limited!

More info

Pete awarded Winston Churchill Fellowship

Pete Moorhouse, an artist educator from Bristol, will be travelling to Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and the USA to research best practice in  woodwork in early childhood education. Pete’s Churchill Fellowship is supported by the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.

“Most children in the UK never touch tools in their entire education. A whole generation is missing out on the rich development opportunities that practical work with tools provides.” “I am passionate about the opportunities that woodwork provides for young children. It is a truly cross-curricular activity, encompassing all areas of learning and development, and can really play a central role in education. Woodwork is exceptional for developing children’s creative and critical thinking skills, as they tinker and experiment with the possibilities of wood and tools, and then go on to express ideas and resolve their work” –Pete Moorhouse

Early years teaching


“Churchill Fellows search the world for ways to improve their communities and professions.”

Over the next 12 months, they will travel the world and research cutting-edge solutions to important topical issues.

These 150 Fellows include people from all walks of life, researching topics across a broad range of sectors, from housing to nursing, science to education.

More info……