Furniture Design School

Frequently Asked Questions

If you can't find an answer to your question or require further clarification please contact us.

When was the school founded?

Anselm Fraser has been running the school since 1985

What qualification will I obtain?

On successful completion of the course, you will be awarded with a Chippendale International School of Furniture certificate.

In order to comply with the requirements of the UK Home Office, students coming from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will be required to sit the following two Higher National units while on the course;

HN Furniture: Project FOXL 35 (SCQF Level 8; NQF level 5) and
HN Furniture: Finishing Techniques FOXG 33 (SCQF level 6; NQF level 3)

These modules will be graded by continuous assessment during the course and have been developed by craftsmen in order to give students all the information they need in order to design, make and finish a piece of furniture.

These units are also available to any other students who wish to acquire formal qualifications. The school is a Scottish Qualifications Authority Approved Centre No. 3008002 and is accredited by Education Scotland.

Recognising, however, that future employers/customers will be more interested in evidence of practical ability than a paper certificate, the most important qualifications that you will take away with you are your “apprentice box”  and a portfolio of photographs of your work.

What kind of career could I follow after the course?

Emphasis will be placed on preparing you to have the confidence to set up your own business on completion of the course in the true entrepreneurial spirit of Thomas Chippendale.

Although some students choose to enter the arts or museums world, those seeking a truly academic path are not suited to this course. The school has an excellent reputation and will, in some cases, assist students to gain employment in professional workshops.

Will I be able to complete the course if I have little woodworking experience?

People come to the School to learn, some with no previous experience and some with considerable skills.

The course is structured to give students the time and tuition needed to build up competence. Beginners work very hard and overcome any initial lack of experience.

I don’t think the course will be of any use to me as I have a lot of experience working with wood.

Those who have already completed full-time woodworking courses elsewhere, or have highly developed woodworking skills already, will not be encouraged to apply.

Too often we find that those who attend multiple courses are simply putting off the moment at which they must begin to take responsibility for their future and start earning a living.

However, those whose experience of woodwork has been gained through employment and who wish to change direction, for example away from mass-produced to custom-built furniture, will find plenty to stimulate them on this course.

What do the course fees cover?

The course fees cover all tuition, the use of hand and machine tools, materials (within reason) provided for course work and course projects, and all visits to museums, private collections and local businesses.

The cost of accommodation and personal expenses are not covered.

A “guide-line” overall budget for a single person, including fees, is estimated at £27,000 (approx US$43,000 or Yen 4.2m).

Evidence of your ability to cover these costs is a pre-requisite of enrolment and indeed entry into the UK.

How are the fees paid?

A deposit of £3,000, payable on enrolment, secures your place on the course.

The balance (excluding any discounts) is payable in one lump sum four weeks before the start of the course.

How do these fees compare with those of other training providers in the same field?

From our research into comparable furniture courses, it would appear that 2-3 years minimum is required to cover the same range of subject matter that we have deliberately condensed down to a period of only 36 weeks (including Christmas and Easter breaks).

When taking into account loss of earnings while attending as a student, we believe our course fee represents excellent value for money, even when compared with highly-subsidised government training courses.

How can I finance this course?

Students from the UK can obtain information on financial assistance to support their learning by visiting or telephoning 0800 100 900.

* See note below for information on Professional & Career Development Loans. Students from some European and Scandinavian countries may be eligible for grants or loans from their own Governments.

Students from developing countries should look to approach the World Bank, most effectively with the official support of a training/educational organisation in their own country.

Students from all other countries should first contact their own Government and then the British Council in their own country to enquire whether there are any special loans or grants available to them for this training.

It is worth noting that you may be able to make a good contribution to the fees through the sale of items made on the course.

* Professional & Career Development Loans are bank loans that can be used to help pay for work-related learning for UK residents. You may be able to borrow between £300 and £10,000 to help support the cost of up to 2 years of learning.

The Young People’s Learning Agency will pay the interest on the loan while you are learning and for one month afterwards. The loan can be used to pay course fees or other costs such as travel and living expenses. You can also use the loan to supplement other forms of support such as grants or bursaries.

Because the Professional & Career Development Loan is a commercial loan product, it should only be considered as an option once all other student funding options have been investigated. Our learning provider registration number is 4991.

Each year we offer an Early Bird Discount to students who commit early to the course and are fully registered by the 31st January.

Where will I live?

You can opt to live with a host family in a nearby village or town at a cost of around £500 per month inclusive of food, and this allows you to be immediately integrated into the social life of the area.

Alternatively you can rent self-catering accommodation nearby which costs typically around £350 per month, plus food and utility bills. The school will help organise your accommodation if you wish.

For further information, view our accommodation section.

What about transport?

Although the school is on a bus route linking the village of Gifford to neighbouring towns, the service is infrequent and rather slow.

Some students choose to buy a second-hand car costing up to £1000 (plus road tax and insurance) and then to sell it on completion of the course. The school can help with this. As a rough guide, depreciation tends to be around 50% over the period.

Of course those of a hardy disposition may choose to cycle, but waterproofs are essential for this.

How many students are on the course and what is the student/teacher ratio?

Up to 24 places are offered. The maximum student to teacher ratio is 6:1.

What is the age range?

Anyone over the age of 18. The school attracts a wide age range of students from school-leavers to the early-retired.

Are there students of many nationalities?

Students at the school come from a wide variety of countries and cultures.

What level of English proficiency is required for the course?

An IELTS score level B1 is adequate for the course. We find that our overseas students’ English language skills improve substantially whilst on the course and living with a local family.

We can also put students in touch with well-qualified local teachers who offer individual or group tuition at reasonable charges.

I am a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Will I be able to gain entry to the UK to study at your school?

You will find useful information about student entry requirements on the UK Home Office website.

The Chippendale School of Furniture is on the Tier 4 Register of Sponsors (Licence No 9K4C1UF57) and has highly trusted sponsor status.

You will need to obtain a Student Visa under the Points Based System, which will allow you to remain in the UK for the full length of the course plus two months at the end.

What is the weather like in Scotland?

There is a good reason why the vegetation in Scotland is so lush and green — it rains frequently, though less so in East Lothian than the rest of Scotland, where the area’s annual rainfall is amongst the lowest in the UK.

Winter temperatures are typically in the range of -2 to 10ºC, whilst in the summer 10 to 25ºC is the norm.

Do past students retain contact with the school?

Most certainly they do. Some students set up businesses in the Chippendale Incubation Centre. Help is only a phone call or email away if any past students want advice or have specific questions.

In addition, we have introduced the Fine Furniture Guild, providing our graduates with an opportunity to register their woodworking businesses on a platform that will promote its members and provide a quality introductory service for customers wanting trusted craftsmanship. All members of the Guild will be graduates of the Chippendale School.

The School has developed a very lively global network of past students who have opened their own workshops and some may be able to offer work placements to others. We have a thriving alumni.

Get In Touch

If you are looking to embark on a career change or you have an interest in the art of woodworking and furniture design, get in touch and arrange in a visit.