Perhaps the biggest factor though, has been the shifting attitudes moving away from risk aversion. Following from Lord Young’s review of Health and Safety 2010: Common Sense Common safety, and subsequent positive guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (2012), the DoE (2013) and recently from Ofsted (2017), schools in the UK have felt encouraged to take a more balanced attitude towards risk and embrace woodwork once again. This is a significant culture shift and whilst still in its infancy, should be wholeheartedly celebrated.
There is something really special about woodwork. It is so different from other activities. The smell and feel of wood, using real tools, working with a natural material, the sounds of hammering and sawing, hands and minds working together to express their imagination and to solve problems, the use of strength and coordination: all go together to captivate young children’s interest.
We observe children working with their hands, tinkering, constructing models, and working on projects, but in fact the real transformation is inside the child – personal development is at the heart of woodwork.
Woodwork is a powerful medium for building self-esteem and confidence. This is for a combination of reasons. Children feel empowered and valued by being trusted as they take responsibility to work with real tools. They accomplish tasks that they initially perceive to be difficult and problem-solve to resolve challenging tasks. They show great satisfaction in their mastery of new skills and take immense pride in their creations. This sense of empowerment and achievement provides a visible boost to their self-esteem and self-confidence. Children have a natural desire to construct and build. This imparts a ‘can-do’ attitude and imbues children with a strong sense of agency – a belief they can shape their world.