Weaving Willows

Weaving Willows

Students learn an ancient craft to transform school grounds

A small group of Year 7 and 8 students took advantage of the spring weather and tried their hand at building with willow, an ancient craft, once commonplace around the country and now making a resurgence.

They worked with local willow expert, Alistair Hayward of Underwood Crafts, to construct a 7ft high living willow sculpture which will continue to grow throughout the school year. Branches of willow have been planted and woven into a dome structure. It is hoped that the branches will 'take' and begin to grow, producing green leaves and inter-twining to produce a spectacular effect. 

Students learnt about the properties of willow, a seemingly magic wood, which roots itself from a cut branch. They also learnt to use various tools, methods of construction and made use of their team work skills.

Students were part of the Diggers Club, an after-school club which meets each week to take part in outdoor projects, including gardening and bush-craft activities. Students have recently prepared vegetable beds for spring, learnt about wildlife on the school site, and created an outdoor classroom.

They worked with Angie Spencer from the school's Link project and Mags Parker, Co-ordinator of Learning Outside the Classroom. The project was possible thanks to funding from Awards for All, sourced by Julie Marriott and Sarah Burton in the school's Aspire centre.

Miss Spencer said: "I have recently done several courses on willow weaving both 'living' and basket making and thought it would be an excellent project for the students to get involved with."

Miss Parker added: “It was great to see the students enjoying themselves outdoors and adding something positive to the school which everyone will be able to appreciate."

Students are proud of their work and look forward to watching the structure grow and develop over the coming months. They will be working with willow again after Easter on some smaller projects, as well as finishing the school's outdoor classroom area.