Woodwork in Primary Schools

Woodwork is a wonderful provision to embed throughout primary schools. Children that have been introduced to woodwork in nursery or reception build on skills and techniques as they progress through the primary year groups, producing work with increasing idea development and complexity.

Woodwork provides an opportunity for truly holistic learning as it has the potential to encompass all areas of curriculum. Woodwork is natural companion to STEM, but all areas of learning are incorporated such as physical development, language and literacy, and of course the arts and D&T.

Personal development and mental well being are integral to woodwork. Woodwork builds dispositions to learning such as perseverance and resilience, and we regularly see a profound impact on children’s self-esteem and confidence. Being immersed in the creative process is also deeply therapeutic and impacts on well-being and mental health. Children who are typically less engaged and focused within the classroom are so often seen to flourish at the workbench. Many schools have utilised their Pupil Premium funding to finance their woodwork provision specifically for this reason. Woodwork can be the key that unlocks some children’s learning.

The real magic of woodwork is the opportunity it provides to develop children’s creative and critical thinking skills. Imagination and problem solving skills are key. Woodwork is a difficult medium to work with and it throws up many challenges. As children design, plan and then start to make – they will inevitably confront problems that they will need to work through in order to resolve their work.

In our current education system  there is still so much emphasis on teaching with children are sat passively still absorbing information (or not). All the research evidence points to the fact that children thrive on hands-on experiential learning. It is so important children are active and learn to think for themselves. Woodwork can certainly contribute to this authentic learning in a dynamic way and it’s also hugely popular with the children. A win- win.

There is a lot to consider when looking to embed woodwork within a primary school. It’s not the easiest provision to embed, there is a lot to think about and get organised, but all the effort and investment will be very much repaid one you witness the impact is is having on children.

Introducing woodwork in Primary

Some initial questions to consider…..

  1. The fist thing you really need to think about is why do you want to incorporate woodwork. Being clear about this will help inform your provision and the priority and value it is afforded within the school.
  2. Will the provision be phased in  – starting with reception and gradually incorporated up through all year groups or will you start with blanket provision – where all years groups have the opportunity right from the onset.
  3. Will you have a permanent shared woodwork ‘studio’, will you have a shared ‘mobile workshop’ that can be taken to each classroom when needed or will each classroom/year group have their own equipment and permanent ‘woodwork area’.
  4. How will children access woodwork provision – as a whole class or in small groups.
  5. How will you manage the provision and monitor the area
  6. Can you allocate the budget necessary to make this successful. Woodwork does come at a cost, with initial investment of tools, workbench and also ongoing costs nails, wood etc, (but the benefits are priceless!)
  7. How can you ensure woodwork is as safe as possible and that all staff are confident and knowledgeable
  8. Can you put mechanisms in place to ensure provision is successful, and that it has a real impact on children’s learning and development. It is useful to allocate a coordinator with an overview  who can manage the necessary resources/ equipment.

As we can see, there is a fair bit to think about and there is no one solution that will suit all schools. The training sessions below look at all these issues and also focus on the practicalities and health and safety aspects to ensure woodwork is a positive experience for all involved.

Training and Resources

Introducing Woodwork in Primary Education
Full day in-house CPD – a combination of theory and hands on practical experience
( also available CPD ‘Woodwork in EYFS’ and ‘Woodwork in EYFS and KS1’)

Introductory staff webinar: Introducing Woodwork in Primary 
1.5 hours webinar by zoom
Email for details

Primary woodwork resource pack
Including: H&S guidance, risk assessment, progression through year groups, equipment lits and much more
Coming soon – Email to be informed of when this becomes available.

The trainings and resources are developed by Pete Moorhouse. Pete has supported a great many schools to embed woodwork and has delivered workshops within primary schools for over 20 years, working with all year groups. Pete was funded by the WCMT to research woodwork provision in education around the world visiting primary schools in Scandinavia, USA, Japan, New Zealand. He is also undertaking research into the value of woodwork in education through the Big Bang Research Project.