Jump to navigation

Crafts Council

Home // News & Features // Make Your Future Blog

Make Your Future Blog

Viewpoints on Make Your Future, a hands-on programme connecting traditional craft and digital technologies in schools.

Student Exhibitions in Birmingham and Leeds

As we come to the end of Make Your Future's second year, we wanted to share some images from the student exhibitions at Birmingham School of Jewellery and Leeds Arts University, held in July and August. We were thrilled to see Make Your Future work filling the gallery space in both venues— staff had done a brilliant job of installing the work, showcasing the breadth and quality of what students had produced.

At Leeds Arts University, the exhibition showcased a wide range of textile techniques and processes including screen printing, heat transfer printing, stencil making, design for sportswear, weaving machine and hand knit, felt making and millinery. At Birmingham School of Jewellery, projects ranged from electro etching and coloured aluminium jewellery to collaborative sculpture using a broad range of metalsmithing techniques. An innovative STEM project devised by make Sophie Huckfield included multiple materials being used for castings and moulds, which could be developed into a number of craft disciplines outside of jewellery

Maker Theresa Nguyen with a teacher at Birmingham School of Jewellery

Gareth Wadkin with a student at Leeds Arts University

We were really keen for as many students as possible to see their work on display in a university setting, and gain an insight into what it would be like to study at both organisations. To launch the exhibition, we invited students from all of the participating schools to attend an afternoon or talks, tours, and workshops to celebrate their achievements.

At Leeds Arts Univerity, students took part in creative workshops facilitated by University Alumni. Mike Ford, Product Manager at Nike, also gave careers talks for students, highlighting his unconventional route into working in the creative industries. The talk was interactive and encouraged learners to respond to a series of questions with personal responses. A tour of the University was organised for pupils, with student ambassadors introducing pupils to the textile studios as well as the photography studios, print rooms, the library and the computer suite, giving students a wider view of courses available at the University and what studying in Higher education might be like. Craft careers in film were highlighted by showing students examples of latex models and 3d works in a range of materials, in reference to models and prop making.

At Birmingham School of Jewellery, pupils were  given a tour of the University including the jewellery studios, both housing traditional hand tools and benches as well as the digital and high tech laboratories. Learners were shown objects that had been created with digital technology, including creature s for the Harry Potter films. Jennifer Collier, a local paper artist, delivered a demonstration showing pupils how she creates three dimensional forms using paper and traditional embroidery techniques. Dauvit Alexander delivered a pewter casting demonstration in the school of jewellery workshops. 

Student with 3D printed model
Pewter casting demonstration
Afternoon workshops were followed by evening Private View events, where parents were invited along to see the work their children had produced. Many parents had not visited the Universities before. In Birmingham, one pupil was in attendance with her step-father who explained he had not attended University but was keen for his daughter to have the opportunity to do so. The daughter was interested in training as a social worker, but had enjoyed working on the project. Another father visiting the private view with his daughter was a consultant for the NHS and spoke to us with his daughter about different career routes they had been considering. The daughter was interested in both working in medicine and the arts and the father was supportive of her exploring both, and also talked about the possibilities of pursuing each area as a portfolio career.
Private View at Birmingham School of Jewellery

Make Your Future Workshops for your School

Joanne Haywood, Make Your Future Project Manager

One of the new craft education resources we have been developing recently are a series of workshop offers, to be able to offer a taste of Make Your Future to schools across the country not directly involved in the project. This offer is presented as a portfolio of craft projects from professional makers who worked with us on the first year of Make Your Future, delivering craft workshops in schools. Each offer is complete with an outline of the workshop, essential equipment you will need and a maker biography. You can download it here.

Schools will need to self-fund their own workshop and work directly with the maker to plan a one day workshop, series of workshops, artist in residence or CPD for teachers. Many of these can be tailor made to meet your needs and curriculum. They are aimed at key stage 3 – but they are adaptable to different year groups too.

We understand that teachers are extremely busy and finding the time to organise projects with visiting artist can be a challenge. This offer presents workshops that are tried and tested with maker educators who have experience of delivering workshops in schools on our flagship education project.


The Value of Reflective Practice

Tamar MacLellan (MA FSET) is Head of Creative Arts at Oxford Tutorial College. An experienced artist teacher, she has a track record co-constructing curricula with learners and academic peers in order to facilitate the production of high level and individual arts practice. Here she shares some of the insight she’s gained into the value of reflective practice for both teachers and students. You can download our our Reflective Diary for Educators here

'In 2014, I began to investigate the blurring of teacher-student identities in the classroom through the establishment of communities of practice. The catalyst for this was a return to my own craft making practices, alongside an interest in raising levels of engagement and autonomy within post-16 art, design and craft curricula. As I re-engaged with making, I increasingly delivered assignments which embedded opportunities to learn from and with students. Purposeful practice began to evolve, evidenced through the sharing and exchange of ideas connected to materials and techniques rather than awarding body specifications and assessment criteria. Whilst documenting my own ideas developed within this shared learning, I became aware of multiple interplays between working as an artist and working as a teacher; in particular, the value of reflective practice within both roles.

Initial ideas and sampling with materials within my own sketchbooks, began to be extended by written notes documenting thinking around how I might introduce these techniques to students, and the potential for students to extend these within their individual craft making practices. I began to include opportunities for classes to be co-constructed with students, which enabled the subject matter and styles of working to be finalised collectively at the start of lessons and reflected upon at the end. Reflective practice became a process to extend my understanding of the theory and practice within both teaching and making. At this time, I had a SMART Interactive Whiteboard within my classroom which my students and I used interchangeably to alter original lesson plans, extend research and document new ideas. Pages produced in class were saved, re-read and reflected upon to inform subsequent sessions. In this way, my teaching became responsive to both planned and emerging ideas, and learning and teaching began to inform each other.  I made use of a framework for reflective practice which enabled consideration of the content of each class, examination of learning and identification of next steps through responding to three questions: ‘what?’, ‘so what?’ and ‘now what?’

Making sense of my own developing ideas - What? So What ? Now What?

I encouraged students to make use of the same reflective practice framework, firstly within their sketchbooks, and then within specific reflective practice journals.  These were varied in format, with some students (and myself) preferring hand-written daily entries, whilst others preferred to document their thoughts digitally, embedding documentary-style photographs alongside text.

Documenting New Ideas - Level 2 Art & Design students making use of the SMART Interactive Whiteboard and a traditional whiteboard, Bournville College, 2015

I read about how crafts practitioners share and develop individual practice online and noted that this approach to learning outside of the classroom can increase creativity, motivation and self-confidence. Authors stated that individuals engaged in these online communities of practice typically want each other to flourish and succeed. This encouraged the development of online reflective practice opportunities and I began to make use of course Moodle sites, closed Facebook groups and both private and public WordPress blogs. Students enjoyed the opportunity to both reflect on their own work outside of the classroom and give and receive feedback to their peers.

Over the last four years I have continued to make use of both private and public Blogs to document my own practice within teaching and making and to enable new groups of students to undertake reflective practice. I continue to find them to be particularly successful in capturing reflections before, during and after classes have taken place, in addition to documenting the process of experiential learning as projects are developed, refined and resolved.'

Links to online blogs:

Meeting in the Middle:  https://meetinginthemiddleblog.wordpress.com

This blog evidences the collaborative practice between Philippa Wood and myself, and includes posts which document the process of research, peer influence, risk taking and change to known working practices alongside reflective practice as projects are started, developed and concluded.

Collaborative Pairing:   https://collaborativepairing.wordpress.com

This blog evidences the research I began in 2014, and documents something of the journey I underwent whilst re-engaging with my own craft making practices and learning from and with students.

Further reading suggestions:

Budge, K (2012) Art and Design Blogs: A Socially-Wise Approach to Creativity, International Journal of Art and Design Education, 31.1, 44 – 53

Budge, K, Beale, C and Lynas, E (2013) ‘A Chaotic Intervention: Creativity and Peer Learning in Design Education’, International Journal of Art and Design Education, 32(2), pp.146-156.

Hall, J (2010) Making Art, Teaching Art, Learning Art: Exploring the Concept of the Artist Teacher, International Journal of Art and Design Education, 29.2, 103 – 110

Holmes, C and Kelly, A (2013) Connected Cloth:  Creating Collaborative Textile Projects. London: Batsford

Illeris, K (2009) Contemporary Theories of Learning. Abingdon: Routledge

Korn, P (2013) Why We Make Things & Why it Matters, Penguin Random House UK

Page, T (2012) A Shared Place of Discovery and Creativity: Practices of Contemporary Art and Design Pedagogy, International Journal of Art and Design Education, 31.1, 67-71

Ravetz, A, Kettle, A and Felcey, H (2013) Collaboration Through Craft. London: Bloomsbury

Watkins, C (2001) ‘Learning about Learning enhances performance’, The National School Improvement Research Matters Institute of Education, 13, pp.1-8

Wenger, E (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge University Press, 263-277

Williams, K; Woolliams, M; Spiro, J (2012) Reflective Writing: Pocket Study Skills, Palgrave MacMillan


Paper-weaving-print: Yorkshire's textile heritage reimagined through printed textile design

Gareth Wadkin, Printmaker, Textile Designer and Lecturer in BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design at Leeds Arts University, 5/4/18

Make Your Future workshops at Horsforth School were a design reinvention of weave through heat transfer printing. Weave and print were explored through both hand and digital print techniques, bringing together both traditional crafts and contemporary technologies.

At Horsforth School pupils were introduced to different manufacturing processes in textile design and how art and design is fundamental to creative careers in the UK textile industry. Students produced repeating paper weaves and design sequences, which they then transferred to polyester cloth using a sublimation, heat transfer method. Mathematical sequences and geometry were both examined in the construction process and Chemistry was also explored through the sublimation printing process.

West Yorkshire was once home to some of the largest textile mills in the world, where weavers turned cotton, flax and wool into colourful cloth. Weaving and printed textiles, the process of applying colour and pattern to fabric, share a long history around the world. The weaving of paper surfaces and heat transfer/dye sublimation printing fit perfectly into this tradition and Year 8 pupils from Horsforth approached this technique with enthusiasm and ambition, producing a series of superb prints for the exhibition in June.

Make Your Future: Looking Back at the Pilot Year, 5/4/18

Bridget McKenzie, Evaluator, Flow Associates

My role in Make Your Future, along with my co-director Susanne Buck, is to evaluate the programme. This means helping the Crafts Council think about how the programme can keep improving to make a real difference for young people, their teachers and schools, and the wider crafts and education sectors.

A first task was to do some background research to understand how Make Your Future fits in the national picture of making and creative education.

Some vital reading was the Crafts Council’s 2014 manifesto ‘Our Future is in the Making’, that sets out the case for every child having the chance to develop craft skills and achieve their full potential. Many schools are cutting GCSE, BTEC and A level options in Art, Textiles and Design & Technology and compared to 20 years ago craft is less acknowledged as central in creative learning, either for early child development or for future work skills.

The UK economy has shifted from one based on ‘making things’ to the financial and service industries. Despite this, the creative industries generate £92 billion p.a. for the UK’s economy and is growing at more than twice the rate of the economy as a whole. Within this, arts and culture contributes £8.5bn p.a. to the UK economy, of which craft generates a significant £3.4bn. 150,000 people are employed in businesses driven by craft skills. However, there has been a decline in investment in craft skills and infrastructure for making in towns and cities at a time when it would serve their communities both to keep traditional skills alive and to invest in new technologies.

In this context, Make Your Future aims to help deliver on this manifesto: to generate networks of schools, Higher Education Institutes, and makers in London, the Midlands and Yorkshire, who will work to create sustainable working models for bringing making skills back into secondary schools nationwide. Another aim is to increase diversity in the craft sector by giving diverse young people opportunities to learn about craft careers.

We set up an evaluation approach for the pilot year, so that over the 3 years of the programme we can track change in each school involved, and in the networks the projects create in each regional cluster.

Year 1 activity has engaged:

Total of 915 pupils (including 182 in ‘pop-up’ activities)
326 pupils in Birmingham, 350 in Yorkshire, 239 in London
15% were boys, 23% from BAME backgrounds, 11% with additional needs
16 schools (6 in Birmingham, 5 each in Yorkshire and London)
4 Higher Education Institutes
23 teachers benefitting from up to 21 CPD evening sessions at HEIs
16 makers (7 of whom delivered sessions in two schools).
78 half-day sessions, and 103 hours contact time for pupils with makers
An average of 47.5% pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium across the 16 schools.

Numbers are important, of course, but in the first year we wanted to focus on the qualities of practice that help boost confidence and inspiration in teachers, makers and students. We wanted to capture their feelings, thoughts and actions throughout the activities they were experiencing. We were looking for ways the project delivered on ACE’s Quality Principles and how the activities were developing the 21st Century skills of creativity, critical thinking, flexibility, and initiative-taking, that are integral to business and enterprise. How would these activities help create the conditions in schools, and partnerships with HEIs, to form a strong approach to positively affect the changing landscape of craft and cultural education?

In Autumn 2017, we produced a report outlining the positive outcomes for participating pupils, including enjoyment and pride in trying new making activities, and that the sessions were relevant and inspiring for pupils from a diverse range of backgrounds. Students were free to create designs that resonated with their own identities. Many of the students talked about their visiting maker as someone that had inspired them, both through their own work and by sharing examples of other artists that had influenced them. Their encounters with professional makers will widen their horizons to possible careers and further study in areas that involve making, whether in arts or sciences. Our report also shines a light on craft as a cross-curricular bridge which draws together science, technology, and creative subjects.

The project was designed to introduce a mix of traditional processes that teachers may not have taught in school for lack of facilities or confidence, and newer or digitally-enabled processes that teachers may not have encountered in their own training.

There was plenty of evidence that the teachers had gained professional skills and confidence. Attending up to six CPD sessions gave teachers time to explore new techniques and be playful, but most effective was co-teaching alongside makers so that they could put their CPD training into action.

“The sky inspired me, I planned by thinking about the sky. I chose a rainbow, I needed to be creative and think outside the box. I didn’t want to make what everyone else was making so I experimented with my ideas and came to a conclusion.” Pupil, Queens Park school

One challenge was about the extent to which a short project could overcome the effects of an erosion of time and support for open-ended imaginative activity. Both teachers and students could be tentative about generating their own imagery or adaptations of technique. HEI partners reflected on how they observed students coming to them from schools, increasingly anxious about ‘getting things right’. The hope is that Make Your Future will open up time and promote the benefits of making practice – getting things a little bit wrong, again and again, in interesting ways, in order to master traditional techniques and to develop new ways of making.

We’re looking forward to seeing what emerges with the new cohort of schools and some new makers in 2018, and thinking more about how the Make Your Future models can have impact across a wider network.

Print and Pattern: Teacher CPD at Leeds Arts University

Gareth Wadkin, Printmaker, Textile Designer and Lecturer in BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design at Leeds Arts University, 29/318

During February, Leeds Arts University provided a series of three printed textiles workshops for Art teachers, including a variety of techniques such as hand dyeing, screen and digital printing on textiles. Each session provided teachers with a wealth of information on the processes, equipment and materials used as well as ways to easily reproduce the activities back in a school classroom setting.

The first workshop, Innovative Print, introduced teachers to ways of translating hand-drawn designs and photographs into multi-coloured screen prints on textiles. This workshop covered a broad range of content to get teachers started with screen printing, including basic printing with paper stencils, preparing artwork for print, coating, exposing and developing screens, printing using water-based inks, layering colours, and registration techniques.

The second workshop, Digital Textiles, explored the creative process and ways to design printed textiles and surface patterns using Photoshop and contemporary digital printing technology. Teachers learnt how to create textile motifs from scanned images or photography.

The final session, Surface Innovation & Material Concepts, introduced teachers to a conceptual and versatile approach to surface pattern design, which combines a rediscovery of traditional processes and materials with unconventional production methods which look towards emerging contemporary markets.

By the end of the three workshops teachers had a thorough understanding of the various screen and digital printing process, they had gained confidence with using our specialist equipment to create their own multi-coloured screen prints.

STEAM Learning: Ceramics and Architecture

Joley Clinkard, Ceramicist and Make Your Future Maker Educator, 22/318

One of the key intentions for the Make Your Future programme last year was to look at craft as a cross-curricular bridge between creative subjects and disciplines within Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM.)

I saw these workshops as a real opportunity to demonstrate this connection and generate conversations around the subject. It was important that the workshops were not only about skills acquisition but formed an open and creative space for students to question their world, ask me about my experiences and to come up with new ideas without inhibition. From a personal viewpoint, I believe that my craft education and creative practice has enabled me to look at urban, political and social environments in a new way by understanding how things are made and why.

During these workshops, we looked into architecture and buildings and begun to understand how an architect or engineer may create sketch models to explore ideas and possibilities before embarking on a larger scale construction project.

These architectural models and drawings may look abstract and impossible but they serve as an exploratory exercise for new innovations in engineering and construction— perhaps a good historic example of this would be the rise of Brutalism in the 1950s, which challenged everything that existed about aesthetics at that time.

With this research in mind, the students learnt ceramic skills in slab building, mixed media and surface design. They each then went on to develop and build their own abstract sculptures, which at the end of the workshops added to a group ‘landscape’ of pieces which can be imagined as their own communal future landscape. Each piece varied greatly, encompassing the students’ own styles and ideas.

I hope that through recognising how different professions would use craft and 3D design to explore ideas and knowing how to do that themselves, the students can now understand more how they might be able to influence their own world through a craft education. Often craft and making can be viewed as a ‘hobby’ or something one does in one's spare time but everything we use in everyday life is thought up by someone, designed by someone and constructed by someone. Knowing how to be a part of that is a hugely valuable and empowering skill to have.


What is Knitting? Teacher CPD at University of Leeds School of Design

Jane Scott, Senior Teaching Fellow, University of Leeds, 26/7/18

Knitting is so often introduced in the same old way; two needles and a ball of wool. So when Elizabeth Gaston and I were invited to participate in Make Your Future we were excited to challenge some of the preconceived ideas and stereotypes regularly associated with our practice. Elizabeth and I make knitting on a large scale. Our recent installation Inflection (2017) was produced at an architectural scale, suspended in The Hall of Steel in The Royal Armouries, and before that The Knitting Machine (2015) descended 10 metres from the iconic balcony of The Parkinson Building in Leeds.   


The Knitting Machine (image c. Jane Scott, 2015)     


Inflection (image c. Jane Scott and Elizabeth Gaston, 2017)

Knitting is thinking

I really believe that knitting is a way of thinking. Whilst our installation work might be different in scale and materials from the knitwear and sportswear we wear every day, the underlying processes are the same. So the teacher CPD at The University of Leeds was organised around the fundamental aspects of knitting; materials, structure, colour and form. We wanted the teachers to reconsider how they might approach knitting as a subject area and so over the three sessions we played with notions of process and scale, programming and technology. The outcome has been ideas, plenty of them. Lots of new ways for knit to be a highly relevant process ready to take on the classroom and spark the imagination.

Exploring colour and texture using finger knitting techniques (images c. Jane Scott 2018)

In the final CPD session we began with an introduction to finger knitting, a simple technique which we used to produce an eclectic range of unique yarns.  Through experimenting with a range of fibres we began to think about how decisions about texture and materials can change the look and feel of the fabric outcome. The fantastic thing about a simple process is that it provides endless opportunities for experimentation.

Knitting is making

What have we been making? Well, over the three sessions we have made a tiny 3D seamless garment using our computerised CNC knitting machines, we made fabrics on hand-operated equipment that combine different structures and materials, we designed our own jacquard patterns and programmed machines to produce unique coloured knitting. And finally we knitted a canopy using yarn we made ourselves. The canopy was composed of individual fabrics linked together into a communal knitted space large enough to lie underneath.

Knit is participation

The social aspect of these workshop sessions has been fantastic. What I have noticed throughout the sessions is the bonds that are created through learning and doing together. In each session there have been activities where the group has had to work together, either sharing equipment, or sharing advice and ideas. However there have also been key moments when the group has come together spontaneously, whilst knitting, to discuss a shared love of craft, textiles and making.

I addition I am delighted that the techniques we have introduced during the sessions have already been tested in the classroom. We have seen photos of students finger knitting together at school and I am excited to hear where their experiments take them next!

Linking individual fabrics together (image c. Jane Scott, 2018)

Final canopy with multiple peaks ready for tensioning to create knitted environment (image c. Elizabeth Gaston, 2018)


Getting the Most from Working with an Artist

Nicky Dewar, Head of Learning and Talent Development, 2/2/18

This week we held the first Make Your Future maker/ teacher planning session at Birmingham School of Jewellery— an opportunity for makers and teachers to sit down together and talk equipment, resources, and lesson plans and work out how to ensure students get the most from the opportunity of working alongside a craft specialist. The process has got us thinking about the key ingredients for making a school/ artist parnterhip really successful.

Working with a professional maker, artist, designer or cultural organisation can be an exciting and hugely rewarding experience— inspiring children, enthusing our staff, surprising the school community and raising teachers’ confidence. Finding the right artist and making the most of the activity can have long-lasting benefits so it’s worth making the most of the opportunity. So how do you go about finding the perfect person and agreeing activity and ensuring you’ve thought of every detail? 

Silversmith Theresa Nguyen takling to teachers from Lindsworth School and Kings Norton Girls' School

There are plenty of guides out there to help you through the process – we’ve listed some below. They all agree on some basic steps:

  • Understand what you want. Are you looking for a collaborative process or a show and tell? -  A taster session for a whole year group or an in-depth experience for a small group? Is the activity linked to the curriculum or a topic?
  • Be open. Talking to your artist can come up with new ideas you’ve not considered. The conversation may also raise challenges – allowing a whole school year to throw and fire a pot may be unachievable whereas making pinch-pots more realistic.
  • School buy-in. Once you’ve decided on this journey make sure everyone is on board. It may seem obvious that class teachers should be integral to the activity but what about other staff? Commitment from the senior team can ensure no last minute conflicts of interest scupper the activity.
  • Professionalism. All parties should undertake to be utterly professional – from responding to emails in a timely and polite manner to behaviour on site. Just as we would expect artists to come fully prepared we would anticipate teachers will have undertaken preparation work with pupils before the activity – the actual creative moment is just one part of the whole experience. Planning and reviewing are crucial.
  • Paperwork. Clear pricing from artists and a signed agreement ensure that everyone agrees with what is going to happen. Artists will be expected to have the right safe-guarding certificates and insurances and schools will be clear about their responsibilities. When an activity becomes more complex – a ‘project’ – funding, roles and responsibilities will require more planning and support.
  • Evaluation. We’re almost full circle. Having stated what you want and why you want it the next obvious question is – did it work? How will you know if it worked? Thinking about the different ways you can collect evidence to demonstrate the activity achieved its goals can be relatively straight-forward or scientifically complex – it depends on the size and ambition of your activity.  Questionnaires, observations, focus groups, attainment data can all be used.
  • Reflect and Celebrate. The bit that often gets forgotten. Make sure you have time to check in with different people – how do they feel it went? What could be done differently next time? What surprises were there? Now shout about it! Use social media, newsletters, blogs, assemblies, professional peer meetings and presentations to talk about those achievements and don’t be shy to admit the things that didn’t go according to plan too – others can learn from your mistakes!

For more information and some useful toolkits:

Artists in Creative Education Practical Guide - CCE

Artists in Schools: A handbook for teachers and artists – National Federation for Educational Research

Artists working in higher education - A-N

Artists working in partnership with school - Arts Council England

Teachers' Toolkit - A New Direction


Filming at Sunny Bank Mills

Joanne Haywood – Project Manager, Make Your Future 30.1.18

We’ve been developing a range of teaching resources, to support our Make Your Future schools and to start spreading the benefits of the project more widely. Aside from the 24 schools we engage with intensely each year, we want to reach more teachers and young people in all regions around the UK.

One of these recourses is a 'how to' film exploring weaving in the classroom. There are many how to films on the topic of weave already out there— what makes ours different is that it’s designed with teachers in mind and outlines how they can best deliver the techniques and processes in a classroom setting. We’ve designed the workshop to be manageable within a 50 minute session and factored in the challenges of delivering craft in schools. There’s also plenty of top tips and follow up guidance on how to make the most from the workshop – including links to careers and STEAM.


The film will be supported by a tool kit, including a practical lesson plan for teachers to work from and adapt to their own needs. It’s aimed at Key stage 3, but can be used effectively for other year groups too.

We filmed our 'how to' last week, in the historic Sunny Bank Mills, near Leeds, in Farsley Village. The mill is now used for artist studios, creative businesses, teaching spaces, meeting rooms and also has its own gallery/selling space.

We worked with one of our Make Your Future makers, Agnis Smallwood to develop this workshop. Agnis is a maker/educator and textiles researcher. We are looking forward to sharing the final film and tool kit with you soon...


Getting Knitting at the School of Design

Zoe Dennington, Learning and Paricipation Manager, 18.1.18

As the second year of Make Your Future gets underway, I joined teachers from our Yorkshire cohort (Roundhay School, Castleford Academy, St Thomas à Becket Catholic Secondary School, Westborough High School, Horsforth School, Beckfoot Upper Heaton, Guisely School and Dixons City Academy) for their first training session at Leeds School of Design.

Knit experts Elizabeth Gaston and Jane Scott are both Senior Teaching Fellows at the School of Design whose research specialisms include knit technology, colour theory, responsive textiles, knit fabric structure, and biomimicry. Liz and Jane introduced the group to the School of Design and threw everyone in at the deep end by showing them how to thread up the studio's V-Bed knit machines and then setting them free to have a go!



With much laughter and the occasional thud as knitting accidentally fell off the machines, the group were soon knitting away! We all ignored the odd dropped stitch and persevered— with amazing results.


The group was soon having a go at creating different textures, including tube knits and ribs. It was really exciting to see the work develop so quickly, and the teachers having the chance to experiment with something new.

Before the training I made a flying visit to the Marks and Spencer Company Archive to talk to Caroline Bunce, their Education Officer, about their fantasic programme for schools. Lots of their workshops have a DT focus and they even offer a session about textiles innovation through the ages at M&S— a great link to Make Your Future. The archive also has a bank of e-learning resources available to download.



A Teacher's Perspective on the First Year of Make Your Future: Sara Davies, Dormers Wells High School, 12/10/17

For me, the most positive aspect of Make Your Future was the fantastic sessions for teachers at Central Saint Martins. A trip back in time to art school, studying ceramics in a stunning location, great staff and amazing resources.

The excitement and buzz that surrounded the project definitely gave a renewed focus to the art department and the number of students opting to take art in Year 9 has doubled this year.

Students who took part in this project had the opportunity to work with the best materials, had teachers who were inspired and trained, and practising artists who were also passionate about their subject.  The project  had a very positive impact on the students who all responded by becoming very mature in their behaviour.  The atmosphere in the room where the students worked was intense; full of fun and creativity.

This year we have built into our schemes of work outcomes that we learned from this experience.  We are no longer buying air-drying clay and look forward to using the glazes with the students.



Maker Stories: Sarah Christie, 14/8/17


As an artist, the opportunity to spend two days working intensively with 40 school kids from Key Stage 3 doesn’t come every day. And for the students, the chance to spend two days out of normal activities and concentrating on creative work isn’t the norm either. At Dormers Wells High School in London we were lucky enough to do just that. Inspired by the school’s garden, and working closely with the brilliant art department there, we had the kids outside, drawing from life, followed by two full days of sustained making with clay. Along the way, we introduced them to some new materials and techniques which they can use and adapt in future projects.

We worked with clay, building big and ambitious vessels over the course of a day, interspersed with demonstrations of tools and techniques, and opportunities to think ahead to surface decoration. The second day focused on hand-painting and decoration with underglaze materials, using drawings the kids had made themselves from life as inspiration and source material.


It was exciting to see all the kids so engaged with materials and ideas, and able to stick with something for a whole day, developing their skills, patience, and ideas. At the end of the first day, some even stayed after school to continue working. Thanks to the brilliant resourcefulness and enthusiasm of the teachers, we were able to work with lots of children at once, and work ambitiously, encouraging them to develop their ideas and skills.

One of the best parts of the workshops was simply getting the kids outside and looking closely, drawing from life, and seeing their garden as a source of inspiration for many areas of their studies. I hope to have left them with some new skills and techniques, but also with an awareness of how art and creativity feed into other subjects. Working on this project differed in many ways from my regular teaching, which is in an art and science context in higher education. Yet, an understanding of how art meets other subjects through creative thinking, problem solving, communicating ideas, and cultural expression, is important at all levels of education. I hope that the students from Dormers Wells who took part in this project will see art and making in their own futures, whatever paths they decide to follow.

Student Experience: Screenprinting at Corpus Christi School with Maker Harriet Lawton, 20/7/17







Photography: Video in Common



Student Experience: ‘Beautiful things can be born anywhere, anytime, using anything,' 17/7/17

By Komalpreet, Year 8, Lordswood School


I am a student at Lordswood Girls’ School and I have recently participated in a one day session with a professional maker, in school, to learn about electro etching. We were experimenting with different processes that you could use to make an electro etched design on a small square copper plate. I initially decided to take part because it was something different that I wanted to try and I thought it was also going to be fun to do which it very much was. Most my friends were signing up so I thought to try it out too. To be honest, I didn’t think that it was going to be that much fun learning about new things and developing new skills that my friends and I had no clue we were developing those skills in particular. It was almost like instinct.

The new skills we gradually learnt during the entire process were negotiating between ourselves to reach a final decision on how to put all the completed etched copper plates together to make a necklace, which was a part of the reason of the entire project. However, it made my friends and I realise that this was a part of most adults lives, negotiating to come to a fair solution that everyone was satisfied with. So I do believe that this project has been very beneficial to us in helping us to mature into young adults and prepare us for the difficulties ahead.

Another new skill we have learnt, is that whatever task you would take upon in your life you always have to include hard work to complete it and get the best results; in order to make the desired design on your copper plate the process included hard work to make the finished product look its best. 

I think that the most interesting part of the project was when we  learnt about how the metal was etched by using salt and water that had currents of electricity flowing through. The exposed metal would be etched away and the protected metal that was covered with either nail polish or permanent marker was not etched away and you had an electro etched piece of metal . It was very intriguing to know that with just three simple elements you could create a marvelous outcome in the end which, if you think about it, has a very meaningful message; ‘Beautiful things can be born anywhere, anytime using anything’.

On the other hand, there was a challenging part to the project and for me personally, it was when we all came together to put our ideas to make our final product. I found it a bit challenging because your friends had ideas that were good and you had a great idea and so you naturally had the fear that something could upset the opposite party or you ideas are not good enough compared to your friends or the decision isn’t made in a friendly calm way that you wish it to be made in . 

I have surprised myself in many ways through the project, but the most surprising thing I learnt is that with hard work and full commitment you can achieve anything, literally anything. I didn’t think that this opportunity would go from signing up, to making something to be really proud of, to writing up a blog about the amazing experience. It has made me realise so much that I didn’t think that it was possible. But all this would not have been a reality unless i signed up. Therefore, I have reached to the conclusion that whatever step you wish to take, don’t fear anything do not let anything put you down because you never know where it is going to lead and it always leads to a good result in the end.                                                                                                              

Komalpreet, Year 8, Lordswood Girls’ School          

Maker Stories: Joanna Veevers MA (RCA), 18 May 2017


'I am a maker and educator. I explore the language of surfaces through the making of ceramic wall pieces, mosaics and drawings.

Having initially done a degree in Printed Textiles at Manchester Polytechnic, I then did an MA in Ceramics at the RCA. My degree in textiles informed my ceramics. The ceramic technique I employ, and am teaching on the ‘Make your Future’ programme, arose from making relief prints and etchings. It involves scratching into, and drawing onto, plaster slabs with an engraved line and slips to produce a design that is transferred to a clay body by casting.

My experience with education and working with the public has been diverse, prolonged and closely related to my personal work. On graduating from the RCA I became a part-time lecturer at Epsom School of Art and at Farnham College of Art, as well as a visiting lecturer to Ceramics and Textiles BA and MA courses across the country. Over time, my art college lecturing has increasingly shifted towards museums, galleries, short courses, and school workshops, bringing me into contact with a vast and diverse range of participants and students.

My teaching experiences have confirmed my passionate belief in the importance of visual art education, especially for children, and its profound ability to benefit most participants in ways that are sustained and subtle. Working creatively and learning about design, materials and processes is immensely beneficial to the maker’s concentration, imagination and discipline. When I work with people in practical workshops I am constantly reminded of this as participants become absorbed and motivated through engagement with materials.

Children learning to make relief prints from carved blocks or tiles from plaster slabs experience a welcome antidote to the world of technology and an often creatively limited school curriculum which has suffered from a general decline in the teaching of Art and Craft in most schools. The way that I approach the considered process of looking, responding, designing, and making is relatively low tech and draws people into a world of creativity and making which has physical rather than virtual reality. I aim to stimulate curiosity and a love of making and exploring materials and mark making.'

Forging School and University Partnerships, 21 April 2017

Gareth Wadkin, Lecturer in BA (Hons) Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design, Leeds College of Art


Art & Design teachers are doing incredible work to inspire school children to participate and engage in art, design and craft. However, in an educational landscape where the arts are marginalised and squeezed out of the curriculum it is extremely important for universities to work closely with schools to make certain teachers and pupils have up-to-date knowledge of the creative industries and careers, as well as providing teachers with CPD opportunities and pupils with information, advice and guidance to support their progression to college or university.

Make Your Future has provided the perfect opportunity for Leeds College of Art to work in partnership with the Crafts Council and University of Leeds to reach schools across West Yorkshire, providing teachers with skills and information on the possibilities of design, craft and creative careers. Furthermore, the collaboration has provided a platform to build new partnerships with local schools and develop innovative ways to support teachers and their students.


Leeds College of Art provided a series of 5 workshops for teachers, including a variety of processes and techniques such as hand dyeing and screen printing textiles. Each session provided teachers with a wealth of information on the process, equipment and materials used as well as ways to easily reproduce the activities back in a school classroom setting. Several of the teachers were new to screen printing and found the experiences very informative and exciting. The teachers’ confidence grew massively over the course and one school in particular has been in contact regarding other CPD opportunities and ways to engage with the College.

Leeds College of Art will be hosting the Leeds Art Teachers Conference this July and will be exhibiting prints and photography from the workshops to demonstrate the positive impact Make Your Future has had on partnerships between teachers, schools and universities.

All images courtesy of Yianna Koukouraki, BA (Hons) Photography undergraduate at Leeds College of Art.

Maker Stories: Theresa Nguyen, 3 April 2017


Theresa Nguyen is an Artist Silversmith who works from her studio at the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Theresa is currently working with teachers from St Paul’s Academy, Birmingham, to design and deliver a series of workshops for their students as part of Make Your Future. Coincidentally, Theresa herself was a pupil at St Pauls. Here, she reflects on her hopes for the project and her own journey into silversmithing:

‘The GSCE and A Level art curriculum at St. Paul’s did not have a particularly strong element of craft when I was a student. I was introduced to metal jewellery-making at the age of seventeen when I took part in a summer arts placement at Gallery 37 for young people in Birmingham. During this five- week programme, I was able to learn the creative possibilities of working with metal from professional jewellers/silversmiths and I had the opportunity to spend one day a week at the Birmingham Jewellery School. I was absolutely fascinated with the variety of techniques that could be applied to metal and this experience inspired me to go on to study jewellery and silversmithing at university.

I later spent a year at Art College, where I was able to dabble with a variety of materials including ceramics, wood, textiles, and metal. During my art foundation, I mainly specialised in ceramics, because they had a fantastic technician who really inspired and encouraged me and the ceramic department had great facilities for me to explore the medium of clay.

I have been privileged to have met and become friends with a number of truly inspiring people who have had a real impact not only upon my development as an artist silversmith but also on my life. My hope is that through Make Your Future I will be able to share my passion, inspirations and aspirations in such a way that it might provide a spark that could ignite a young person to actively explore their creativity and even make choices to pursue a career in the creative sector.’  


Teacher CPD at Birmingham School of Jewellery
Lisa Bickley, Head of Art at Saltley Academy, Birmingham, 21 March 2017

At Saltley Academy we&a