The 'furniture school' in Somerset fighting to keep traditional woodwork alive

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Teenagers in Cheddar are being taught professional woodworking skills to stop the ancient skills being lost.

The Kings of Wessex Academy has partnered with Artichoke Ltd, a bespoke interior design firm, to enhance the training of their A-level students.

Finding craftspeople is getting "harder and harder", according to Director Andrew Petherick. He says Artichoke employs around 20 cabinet makers but cannot afford to have more than one apprentice at a time.

"What we're trying to do is introduce people to craftsmanship and perhaps act as an unofficial careers adviser for their journey into craft if they become interested in it."

The number of students taking Design and Technology is in long-term decline. Between 2003 and 2017, the number of D&T GCSE students in England dropped by nearly two-thirds, from 420,000 pupils to just over 150,000.

The workshop has opened up in the evenings for Design and Technology students to learn new techniques Credit: ITV West Country

DT teacher Thao Kemp says the workshops have been a "gift" for the school and the students.

"Their work is dramatically improved. I think also I can see the level of their confidence has increased."

The past year impacted a lot of the practical parts of the classroom. Student Tom Manning said Covid meant students "weren't getting much hands on time in the DT suites."

Fellow student Aidan Nosworthy says it is clear their making better products in part thanks to the professional equipment. He says "here we have much better tools than we do at school so we get more accurate joints."

Matthew Julian-Anstey agrees saying "the tools are a lot nicer because they're all sharp and new" and he feels he's been able to make better joinery because "I've taken a lot more time into it rather than just the typical one hour lessons."