UK Markets closed

Campaign To Get Craft Skills Back Into School

(c) Sky News 2014

A campaign to put crafts back on school timetables has begun after it emerged the classes were being cut across the country.

In just five years, participation in craft-based GCSEs has fallen by 25% and the number of higher education courses has almost halved.

This is despite the fact that craft skills contribute £3.4bn to the economy.

Now (NYSE: DNOW - news) the Crafts Council has launched a manifesto calling for the subject to be put "at the heart of education" and help build more routes into related careers.

Executive director Rosy Greenlees said: "This is a vital moment for securing a strong and resilient future for craft.

"The UK is a world leader in craft but this will not continue without safeguarding a craft education."

At Humphrey Perkins School in Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire, every pupil must do some form of creative GCSE, with options including textiles and product design.

Headmaster Peter Nutkins has an explanation for why many schools fail to share his enthusiasm.

"Heads are really under pressure with the accountability measures to go for those subjects which are seen as academic rather than those which are not so academic and we know those subjects really switch pupils on," he said.

Textiles student, 13-year-old Shraya Brahmbhatt, believes all children should have the options she does to try different skills.

"A lot of people like to be creative and if you don't have the opportunity you don't have the chance to show how you feel and express yourself," she said.

Lily Breed, 14, agrees.

"I think it's really important because it's basic life skills that you learn that you might need, like sewing curtains in your home," she said.

But while schools and universities may be moving away from crafts, the popularity with the public is soaring.

Sakeena Edoo runs candle-making workshops at Lumiere de Londres in the capital and has seen how participation is growing.

"When we first started, the reason people were coming for the classes was it was the recession, people were trying to save money, make stuff for themselves or for gifts," she said.

"But as the years have gone on people are actually looking to do this because they are looking for something else and that their jobs aren’t enough."

And for many, what starts as a hobby, ends up as a trade.

It is not just the Crafts Council campaigning to push the subject. The shop Hobbycraft has begun a petition to get sewing back on the curriculum.

Marketing manager and keen knitter David Westman said: "There's a lack of skills with a lot of people.

"There's a generation who missed out on learning even to sew a button on to a shirt and we think it's an important skill to have."