J & C R Wood has been a proud supplier of Metalcraft tools to schools, adult education and training centres since the early 1960’s. Over 50 years later, it is still very relevant in teaching principles of working with metals, and the skills of designing and making as a craft hobby or as a business enterprise. This in turn leads into wider engineering and vocational studies, and Metalcraft’s business in a box philosophy enables students to develop their entrepreneurial skills and turn their ideas into cash for business and fund raising activities.
To illustrate this here is a recent article from Technology In Education magazine about how we worked with two schools in helping them build teaching around Metalcraft tools.
Metalcraft tools help in developing skills and fund raising
J & C R Wood, the manufacturers of Metalcraft hand powered metalworking tools have recently worked closely with two schools in the North of England to demonstrate how the tools can be used to develop design, manufacturing and business skills which in turn are now being used to help raise funds for both schools.
In Wigan, the students from Hindley High School soon got to grips with the practical metalworking aspects of Metalcraft tools and set up their own manufacturing production line making gardens planters, hanging baskets and a number of other products which they are selling to raise funds for trips.
After purchasing some of the company’s Practical range of tools, the school’s Head of Design and Technology, Dave Rudd, asked J&CR Wood for advice and assistance on setting up and demonstrating the tools to students. Accordingly, the company were happy to send their chief demonstrator to provide the necessary support and instruction to help get the school up and running.
Now, the pupils are so adept at using the tools that they are taking orders from the school’s own gardening club and staff. So popular are their garden planters, hanging baskets, and boot racks that they’re struggling to keep up with the demand for them, said Mr Rudd.
He said: “The response and demand for the products has now exceeded our capability to make them. The gardening club immediately ordered many of the outside projects, such as hanging baskets, planters, and lawn edging. Also, the staff have filled up the order book with wellington boot and shoe stands.
“The tools are tremendous fun to use. The students love the freedom and independence and it allows them to manufacture quality items with confidence and they develop problem solving skills. The projects make ideal gifts for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day and we are now considering selling them to raise money to subsidise the Year 11 / 10 activities and trips.”
The tools have been such a hit with staff and students alike that there are now plans to run an extended ‘design and make’ project with their Year Nine pupils, which it is hoped will lead to Metalcraft equipment and processes used in GCSE Product Design.
Mr Rudd added: “The advantage of using Metalcraft tools is the speed at which pupils can use the equipment skilfully and accurately. The level of teacher support can be differentiated to suit the ability of the group with more or less use of templates and help sheets.
“The end results are obviously high quality due to the nature of the equipment used and final products can be obtained very quickly. This fast turnaround of product obviously maintains a high degree of motivation and rapidly builds self confidence.”
Pupils have become so confident with the tools that many now alter design drawings and personalise their projects.
Meanwhile, the Create Studio in Goole, which offers GCSE, BTEC and A-level qualifications through employer-led projects has a similar story to tell. Metalcraft recently sent a team of demonstrators to the school and gave demonstrations to students, showing them how to use the tools and make products in a matter of minutes.
And having seen a range of decorative flower holders and clock stands made using the specialist tools, course leader Simon Poulton said the impact of the hands-on learning had been clearly evident in the pride students showed in their own creations.
“This is an incredibly powerful way of learning. Our students have come to class, decided upon a product and then made something of shop-quality in less than 20 minutes,” said Mr Poulton.
“You can immediately see their minds working as to how they have made something potentially worth £15 to £20 for very little cost at all. They can see the potential for making a profitable business as a result. It gets them thinking about how a business works, and how to make money, and there is no better lesson than that.”
“We have decided to buy tool sets from Metalcraft as they are perfect for our students to use,” added Mr Poulton. “There’s no need for power as they are all hand-operated, making them very safe for a classroom environment, and they produce great-looking, shop quality products consistently.”
Following their hands-on learning, the students were challenged with drawing up a business plan for their products, with the aim to eventually sell them on to local retailers, or even at school events, to generate income.
Barry Wood, director of J & C R Wood said the work done by both schools had been inspirational in encouraging students to consider a career in engineering and manufacturing when they leave school.
“We believe it is important as a long-established business serving the education sector to try to inspire and develop the manufacturers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.” he said.
“Both schools do a fantastic job in making learning a really positive experience for their pupils by allowing them to use real-life tools and work on projects from which they can gain a true understanding of the world of work.
“Our demonstration staff get a real buzz from the very positive reaction of the students to seeing their ideas transformed into a quality product within minutes. There is no better sense of achievement than when you achieve something you didn’t think you were capable of.”
Further information and video demonstrations of all of the available Metalcraft tool ranges can be viewed on their website www.metal-craft.co.uk