Left–right: Student Maciej Dynos, John Hampden Grammar School headteacher Tracey Hartley, Master Dr Tony Smart MBE, Mayor of High Wycombe Cllr. Brian Pearce, education chairman at The Furniture Makers’ Company Charles Vernon
The Furniture Makers' Company yesterday launched a new initiative to support schools that teach design and technology, saying the courses are critical to the industry's future.


The industry's dedicated charity is piloting a new scheme with the John Hampden Grammar School at High Wycombe, symbolically important as a hub for UK furniture making.

"The teaching of design and technology at GCSE is critical to the long term prosperity of the UK furnishing industry," said Charles Vernon, education chairman at The Furniture Makers’ Company.

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 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.

Mr Vernon said: "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 & technology is dropping at an alarming rate. This new initiative will see the Company support selected schools that teach design & 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."

Tracey Hartley, headteacher at John Hampden Grammar School, said: "John Hampden began its life as a school passing on High Wycombe’s traditional crafts of cabinet-making, carving and polishing. This partnership brings that proud history right up to date."