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Fulston Manor School

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Erasmus Lives On After Brexit

A group of students took advantage of their first Erasmus experience last Friday- not abroad to European destinations, but to the long-established school of pottery at Aylesford Priory.  Looking to rekindle the current project with their partner schools in Spain, Czechia, Lithuania, Estonia and Iceland exploring local craft, the students have begun a sequence of remote learning activities in lieu of overseas travel.  

As part of these ‘remote’ experiences, students were offered the opportunity to experience a full-day of pottery classes, learning how to work with clay, creating, decorating and glazing a range of ceramic products.  The aim was to gain an insight into how traditional crafts can be a lucrative industry in the modern world.  But surely traditional pottery is a trade from times past?   Believe it or not, despite being one of the last remaining traditional potters in the county at their tranquil Priory location, the potters at Aylesford are thriving.  In the last few years, as interest in artisan products have soared, they have been inundated with workshop requests and they are now as much a centre of learning as regional trade.  

However tranquil the setting, naturally the day would be a messy, slightly chaotic affair; despite the students’ expertise in Art and Design, pottery is not currently part of the curriculum and so all of the students were effectively starting from scratch.  Cue numerous mistakes and slips at the wheel; unexpected splatters of clay and malformed pots misbehaving between frustrated fingers.  However, with a little bit of perseverance, and in the hands of the patient staff at the pottery centre, hunks of disobedient clay started to respond to the students’ efforts.  Fist-pumps replaced sighs of disappointment and ever so slowly, soggy clumps became examples of elegant earthenware, ready to be fired and glazed.

Armed with a new understanding of a traditional craft, the students left their final creations at the Aylesford Pottery ready for collection later this month.  Will relatives receive bespoke butter-dishes for their birthday?  Will friends enjoy sipping brews soon from home-made mugs?  Time will tell, for once the fires of the kilns have faded, students will be able to collect their finished items…

Mr Matthews, teacher in charge of the Erasmus Project, said “Our thanks go to all of the staff at Aylesford Pottery for kindly accommodating our students during this time; with the financial assistance of the European Parliament, Fulston Manor School continues to enjoy the fruits of the Erasmus Program, learning in adventurous ways both home and abroad”.