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Trying our best with free timber for schools

Free timber for schools? Well, we’re trying our best!

As the school terms across the Country start once again I thought I’d do a brief update on the timber for schools thing we have been trying to do. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone as well as we had hoped and, to be honest, more than likely the whole thing highlights the reason why education in Wales is so backward – and it’s nothing to do with the hardworking teachers throughout Wales!
Picture of a wall

This is what it has felt like recently talking to the local councils

We’re looking for other woodworkers to get involved

We’re looking for other woodworkers to get involved and short of writing to every woodworker in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy, Gwynedd and Cheshire (not in Wales I know, but in our area!) we thought we’d try and get a spot of help to publicise what we are trying to do in the hope others would then get in touch with us; we would love to be more pro-active and contact each and every woodworker, but we have got a business to run after all. With that in mind, we wrote to the Welsh Assembly Education Minister (still waiting to hear back, nearly two months later) and also the Head of the Welsh Assembly. To be honest, the response of the WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) leader surprised us; basically, classroom materials and resources are the responsibility of the school and local area authority that the school is based in. Fair enough, we move on…

We’ll write to a couple of the local councils then…

With the response of the WAG leader in mind, we thought we’d write to a couple of the local Councils (Flintshire and Denbighshire); surely they would love to get involved and help source materials for their schools’ woodwork classes? Right? … Wrong! At every step of the way, we’ve been met with suspicion, even if they do think it’s a great idea! They’re all only too grateful for us to pass materials onto schools, however, with regards to helping us get others involved we’ve been met with silence. To be fair, DCC (Denbighshire County Council) did go out of their way and send an email to all secondary schools and special schools in their county, who then bombarded us with requests along with their contact details. The only problem being we already had these details ourselves after under-funded woodworking departments got in touch with us; all DCC have done is highlighted the problem and exacerbated it still further by making EVERY school want timber, which is not what we actually wanted DCC to do! It’s all very well sending the email, but as we pointed out, we need DCC’s help to push it to help get other woodworkers involved and helping out with supply; more interested woodworkers equals more materials for your woodworking departments. The response from Flintshire County Council (FCC) was even less helpful; it basically amounted to ‘Any schools that do receive timber from you would love publicity’….that left us scratching our heads a bit, so they want timber and then they want us to get them publicity?! Ok…! Did they actually listen to what we said on the telephone? Did they actually bother to read the emails and letters properly?! Did they f*&£ (I said Flip, honest I did!)!

So where now with the free timber idea?

I have absolutely no idea at the moment; we will continue supplying to local schools as and when we can, however, some schools are going to have a very long wait indeed unless the councils see what we are doing and get involved to help publicise it, be it through press releases, Twitter & Facebook mentions (they can reach far more people this way than we can by ourselves!) in order to highlight the need for other woodworkers to help out – we’ve done our bit, it’s over to the Councils and even WAG to do their bit, as ultimately, it’s saving the schools money in the long run.

Why should the councils get involved?

Look at the bigger picture; if they help us to get more wood for schools, they could then do something similar for other materials that are needed, be it off cuts of cloth for Textiles lessons, produce and equipment for Food Technology departments etc etc… the list really is endless. Several National UK timber trade websites have been kind enough to lend a hand in highlighting this – BWF,TRADA, TTJ (you can read the full list here) but it’s over to the Councils now…I won’t hold my breath.

Other notable responses.

I’m not going to name names here, but we did also go higher than the councils at one point; help the local schools? Nope, more like I’ll take the wood off your hands for my fire (true!). This from somebody who is paid very well to represent you and I! Well, no, you won’t take the wood to burn, Sir or for your duckpond…(hint!). In the mean time if you’re a North Wales (or Cheshire) based woodworker reading this thinking ‘I’d love to get involved’, then get in touch/sign up using the form over at Timber for schools and we can put you in touch with a school near you.

6 thoughts on “Trying our best with free timber for schools

  1. Anon says:

    Excuse the obvious woodworking pun but you’ve hit the nail on the head there. Budgets at best have not risen for a few years which in effect is a cut, yet here you trying to help out (good for you by the way, keep it up!) and do some good yet either Councils can’t see the positives that this idea could bring or are suffering from a malaise that seems to hamper most Local Government.
    Keep doing what you’re doing as I think it’s great, however little you think you’re helping you’re still doing something which is more than the people whose job it is, seem to be doing.

    1. Thanks for the comments and encouragement, not sure how much further we can take this but we shall keep trying!

  2. David Owen says:

    After reading your artical I was tempted to put 6 in the box marked four + 1. My wife works for Denbighshire Count Council. Often they have to turn people down for requests for help, the response is for the applicant to contact their local Councillor who goes into the main offices and demands action.
    The response from the Council is nearly always positive. I think that we as schools should do the same and contact our local Councillors. I am going to find our school local council member. (He or she is likely to be a school governor) and put a bit of pressure where I can. My wife knows the Councillor for Denbighshire who gets the best results so I will ask her to contact him for Denbighshire schools.

    1. Hi David,
      That sounds great, please let us know how you/your wife gets on!

  3. Hi Jon
    It is a shame that this great idea has not been received and acted on by everyone you have contacted. We think it is a great idea, other than the free materials the supply provides an ideal opportunity for teaching sustainability. Your website also provides useful information about the materials you provide. It is a good idea all around for companies, schools/pupils and the environment.

    1. Hi Gareth,
      Hopefully more may get to see what we’re doing and come forward with un-wanted timber both for your school and the other schools. We’ll keep hammering away with it and see where we get to to and keep you posted!
      Please do continue sharing what you and your kids are making in woodwork with us!

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