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Teacher Tim Walker with some of the items made at the school using offcuts from Birley

Schools make good use of offcuts

Schools in Yorkshire have been turning a manufacturer's offcuts into everything from tool cabinets to theatre scenery

Posted by Dave Higgitt | April 05, 2015 | Sustainability

Sheffield-based Birley Manufacturing is sending free MDF, chipboard and plywood offcuts to schools across the region. The materials can then be used either for general maintenance work or for art and design and technology projects.

At King Ecgbert School in Sheffield, for example, the materials have been used in the provision of essential props for the theatre productions put on by the school. A four-poster bed and backdrops for an adaptation of ‘The Railway Children’ have been made from wood provided by Birley.

All year groups from year seven up to 13 have also used the offcuts in design technology classes to produce a wide range of projects, from vacuum-forming moulds to pieces of furniture as part of A-level course work. Some of the donated pieces are used within the department to make extra shelves or provide additional storage. Some have also been used to make a tool cabinet, which was entered in a design competition for DavyMarkham. Two students designed and built a case for housing measuring equipment, such as micrometers for apprentices at the Sheffield-based engineering firm.

“The support we get from Birley in terms of materials is fantastic”, says Tim Walker, design teacher at King Ecgbert. “You can’t really call the supplies offcuts. We often get large-size pieces which are like full sheets for us. We couldn’t undertake as many projects or provide students with as many opportunities without this support.

“Now that we are an academy and assisting other schools, we are able to pass on some of these supplies to our partner schools too. Newfield Secondary School has recently used Birley offcuts provided by us for a speaker project, so an even larger student community are benefitting.”

In 2009 Birley teamed up with several local waste management specialists to set up a ‘zero to landfill’ scheme, aimed at reducing the company’s impact on the environment. The company also work with Veolia, who take smaller pieces of MDF and pass these on to a third party for composting for animal bedding.

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