Monday, 20 January 2014

Helping Awaken Hands-on-Skills in Secondary Pupils

I have never been very good at vocational activities such as art, woodworking, and DIY. I did manage to make a cabinet in the woodworking class at school on which to place a massive radio which required two people to lift it. This cupboard lasted for several decades until my move to Croydon in 2011. What I think I did come away from school with was an admiration for those with hand skills talents, such as wood and metal work and artists. However the vocational side of education does seem to have been eroded over the years, which does not help those who are not very good at academic subjects. The collapse of industrial work, apprenticeships, and the destruction of the skilled manual working class has had a negative effect on communities where skilled workers provided leadership through trade unions and friendly societies. It is a shame that the planners have not seen that in agreeing to let the developers sweep away the industrial heritage of the North Battersea, Nine Elms and Vauxhall area they should have established a ’museum’ that could be used to inspire a new generation to see that vocational skills are worthwhile. (See my blog at

So it is good that there are people who would like to introduce 11-16 year olds to vocational activities in schools. The Croydon Tech City movement is helping children to learn programming skills. Croydon resident Allan Kwamegah and colleagues have set up Skyspring UK. Initially it was registered as a company limited by guarantee with the aim of registering later with the Charity Commission. Allan and his colleagues are now faced with a dilemma. They want to get started in a school in Croydon but have no money. Their ability to raise money is limited by not being a registered charity. They cannot register as a charity until they have £5,000 in the bank. By introducing vocational training as an after school activity has several advantages. It gives break from the academic treadmill, will help pupils experience something they may have the potential to become skilled in, something that is creative and practical that may be useful if everyday life even if they do not go onto obtain vocational qualifications and employment. The potential range of skills training includes catering, metal craft, dress making, nail and beauty, leather craft, electrical engineering, hairdressing, paper craft. welding, clay modelling, woodcraft, gardening, plumbing, plastering, bricklaying, glazing and decorating. 
If any of my Croydon readers think this is an idea worth exploring in more detail, especially if you have children or are teachers and governors at secondary schools, please contact Allan. at If you know anyone who is involved with Croydon secondary schools please let them know. Contact can be made via

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