Anselm Fraser, Chippendale school principal

“Furniture school is no Cinderella,” says principal


Scotland’s only dedicated furniture design school is calling on careers guidance professionals not to forget fine woodworking as a career option for young people.

The Chippendale International School of Furniture in East Lothian takes in some 25 students from around the world each year.

But the school remains concerned that careers guidance only seems to highlight trades such as joinery and plumbing for youngsters who want to work with their hands after leaving school.

The school’s call comes a day after Scottish exam results were published, with some 150,000 passes at Higher level.

“A year-long course at the Chippendale school can, and does, pave the way for a fulfilling career in fine furniture design and making,” said Anselm Fraser, principal of the school, which opened over 30 years ago.

“But we seem destined always to be the Cinderella of career options for young people, with almost no school leavers from Scotland applying for one of our courses,” he said.

This year, students came from the USA, UK, Poland, Germany, Austria, Singapore, India, South Korea and Australia – but with no school leaver graduates coming from Scotland.

Student of the Year 2016/17 was a recently-retired tax inspector from Australia, and last year’s top prize went to a Russian student who was looking to change careers, and who has now set up her own business in St Petersburg.

“The majority of applicants to the Chippendale school are from people who have embarked on a career, but who have found it to be unfulfilling, and enrolling at the school is all about following their passion,” said Anselm Fraser.

“However, it is disappointing that we rarely receive applications from young people leaving school, particularly from Scotland, and who are being pointed in other directions.  Many young people simply don’t know that furniture design courses are available, because careers guidance teachers also don’t know they exist,” he said.

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