We feel we have the most rewarding and fulfilling of jobs. We offer the boys a safe and practical working environment, we show them trust and the respect they deserve, and we give them the opportunity to experience a little more freedom than they are used to in their other curriculum lessons. Our young people learn without realising as they learn through play. We promote teamwork, healthy competition, positive associations, and appropriate behavioural patterns.
We teach the boys basic carpentry skills, working at their pace and level. This soon manifests into tangible and desirable items, many of which they get to keep and take home. We try where we can start with quick and easy projects utilising as many different tools as possible. We tend to begin with a wooden mallet, then work up to a toolbox, a stool, a carved walking stick, wooden signs (using a branding iron), tealight holders and at Halloween carved pumpkins and Christmas decorations in December. Towards the top end of the scale and after sufficient tutoring we can progress onto more elaborate projects; benches, chairs, chess boards and pieces, carved spoons, forks, bears, faces, owls, wands to name but a few. They learn to design their projects through basic diagrams including measurements and cutting lists.
“It is nice to get out of class and I like building fires.”
“I like working outside, it is fun, and I love the practical work.”
“It’s relaxing, it’s like a stress reliever up there. I enjoy making things, doing things with my hands and the practical side of it.”
As well as their personal projects the boys also get involved in the renovation and upkeep of the hut/workshop that we work from. They were integral in the construction of the hut in 2013 and they take an active role in its maintenance from extending the decking to insulating and cladding the interior. We teach all the boys’ elements of bush craft, from shelter building to fire lighting, axe skills, knot tying, knowledge of local flora and fauna and emergency survival priorities, all of which foster and promote a positive mental attitude. Our boys will also learn and become involved in forestry work, learning how to manage and maintain a healthy woodland in an ecologically friendly way, ensuring that we leave the woodland in a sustainable state for future generations. We are incredibly lucky here at Woodlands as we own our own sawmill. Along with the surplus timber from our forestry management scheme, we are able to mill all manner of plank, joist, or beam to whatever size we require. We give the boys hands on experience in the safe and efficient operating of the sawmill and many other power tools.