Epsom College Classroom Furniture and Teaching Wall Testimonial

During the summer of 2017 we supplied bespoke furniture for the latest phase of the refurbishment of the boarding and day houses at Epsom College which began in 2012.

“NVB have thoroughly enjoyed working with Witley Jones who are a very adaptable and friendly organisation.

The development of the furniture design was a truly innovative process and the engagement of the client was considered throughout each stage of the design process.

They met our specific requirements for each of the three areas particularly the level of detail involved with the intricacies in each of the bedrooms…

NVB have worked with Witley Jones on a number of projects and would recommend them to any school for the design and supply of their furniture.”
Bill Button, NVB Architects.

“Witley Jones provide an excellent design service and this is supported by a flexible approach to installation.”

I would definitely recommend Witley Jones to a colleague. Given the majority of work is carried out over the summer, and inevitably there are unforeseen issues that cause delays to the construction phase of the refurbishment, Witley Jones are proactive in working around these challenges, thereby ensuring that all furniture is in place by the start of term.”
Sarah Teasdale, Bursar at Epsom College.

Creating a Dynamic Learning Environment

Classrooms are now required to be engaging and practical spaces that create the desired environment that students thrive in.

When designing a classroom there are now a number of core factors that are considered including the intended use of the classroom, what technology is needed and the type of furniture required.

Years ago, the classroom was based on functionality, now there is a focus on the design and environments that are created in schools.

What are the requirements to create the desired learning environment?

We have found one of the most common requirements is space which is in short supply across most school estates.

Multi-use furniture helps to maximize classroom space and facilitates collaborative classroom learning with ease. For example, the desks and chairs might have wheels on the legs making them easy to move around, with tables designed so that the shapes fit together for collaborative learning.

This can be achieved through investing in furniture that is tailored to specific needs, such as a desk that can be altered to different heights and a chair that can be altered to provide different levels of back support.

Investing in quality furniture

Years ago, schools purchased furniture based on budget and how many students they needed to cater to. This would determine the quality of the furniture they could afford. To put it simply, school furniture was considered as a purchase rather than an investment.

Now schools are certainly seeing furniture more as an investment. They want their furniture designed to be long lasting and designed in such a way that it will still be fit for purpose for years to come.

Focus on design

Furniture can now be made to the individual needs of a particular classroom or area of a school and this truly bespoke offering means that it will be able to meet all of the schools needs and wants perfectly.

Items can also be finished in a number of colours to fit in with a design scheme of a building, subject area or school.

The finish of the furniture is more than the colour or paint that can be applied. In the past, we have found that imported furniture such as classroom tables, which tend to be cheaper, would have metal frames painted with paints with high lead content.

Gone are the days when dangerous, chemically-coated furniture and fittings were all-too prevalent in the UK market place. There is now a conscious effort being made by schools and furniture designers when selecting finishes to ensure all lacquers and sprays used are not only long lasting but also safe.

We only use formaldehyde free lacquer on all pieces of furniture because it’s essential that only non-harmful products are used.

Integration of Technology

Over the past decade there has certainly been a shift in how technology is being used in schools. There has been an increased use of technology in all areas of teaching – technology is no longer just used in IT lessons.

Schools are now looking for furniture that can integrate a variety of technology to maximize space, whilst housing technology safely. We have also seen many schools requesting that the furniture includes charging points with the increase in the number of devices students now use.

Epsom College Teaching Wall

Teaching walls are great example of this as they can seamlessly integrate a smart board, whiteboard and storage that is in keeping with the design of the classroom. By combining all of the furniture and storage into one wall maximises the space the available and provides a setting that can easily be adapted for multiple use and classroom layouts.

What is a Teaching Wall?

Epsom College Teaching Wall

A teaching wall combines both storage and technology through innovative design.

Often comprising of taller storage units with shelving and cupboard space, they provide excellent and much needed storage space in the classroom, hidden neatly away behind cupboard doors. A simple solution for getting rid of classroom clutter.

21st century classroom technology, such as interactive whiteboards can also be integrated into these teaching walls, along with sliding whiteboard doors to provide extra presentation space whilst teaching.

This innovative design works as the perfect focal point of the classroom, from which teachers can teach and focus their student’s attention to.

A truly modern and streamlined learning aid and the smart choice for all educational environments.

Why are they a great option for your school?

Teaching walls are a great option for schools, as they provide the ultimate storage solution for the classroom, maximising storage and teaching space.

Space is something that is in short supply in most educational estates and a teaching wall serves as the perfect innovative solution for this. With a teaching wall, the teacher has a central storage point in the classroom, which gives them flexibility to arrange the rest of the classroom in any way they wish (for example, moving tables together to create collaborative learning opportunities).

Not only this, but teaching walls also provide a great space to house all the audio and visual equipment for your interactive whiteboard and screens both safely and neatly.

Epsom College Storage Wall

We can customise a teaching and storage wall to meet your exacting requirements, so no matter the size of your classroom (height and width), we will work with you to design a teaching wall that perfectly fits the space you have available, without compromising on any features and elements you want your wall to incorporate.

Every teaching wall we design and manufacture is completely bespoke and is built around you.

Designing Boarding Furniture for the 21st Century

boarding school accommodation furniture

One of the main aims of boarding schools is to create a home away from home for their students with accommodation that is comfortable, secure and facilitates the use of technology.

We have witnessed first-hand how the requirements of boarding furniture have changed in the last decade and how we have evolved the design of boarding furniture in order to meet these new requirements.

A home away from home

Boarding schools are now working hard to make the transition from home to school as smooth as possible with the focus on creating a homely environment for their students. When students join the school, they often stay in dormitories to feel part of the boarding community in the early days. Older year groups tend to be given single study rooms to provide them with independence and privacy similar to that of university.

Although creating this ‘home away from home’ is important for every student, it is especially important for overseas students. Unlike students whose family live in the UK, where they will be able to go home quite regularly, overseas students are generally only able to travel home once or twice per academic year, so schools really do work hard to provide them with their own space that feels homely.


Students now have more possessions than they would have had in previous decades and these possessions are of high value including phones, tablets and laptops.

This has created a need for boarding schools to ensure the design of their boarding furniture provides students with storage space.

There is now a greater need to continually improve security and integrate this into furniture. Ease of use is equally as important as the level of security for students, we have seen safes and one key solutions introduced into boarding accommodation.

Integrating power and access to technology

Boarding furniture is now required to be able to provide power to each student as they now own multiples devices. Integrating power into the furniture including charging points and lights provides students with their own source of power which is housed safely.

The innovations in technology have also influenced how students learn and study. Students no longer just use books for study, they are often required as part of their learning to conduct their own research and assignments. Study areas in boarding rooms have also had to adapt to facilitate access to technology.

Summer 2018: A season full of exciting education events to add to your diary

ISBA Conference

Education events, conferences and exhibitions provide an excellent opportunity for those involved in this sector to build relationships and to discuss key industry topics.

There are several exciting education events taking place across the UK in the coming months. These events have been designed not only for schools, colleges but also businesses working in the education sector.


Boarding School Association Annual Conference for Heads – 1st-3rd May

The BSA Annual Conference for Heads brings together an array of headteachers and senior leadership teams from across the UK to look at all corners of the boarding school environment.

The three day conference is being held at The Grand Hotel in Brighton with an exciting lineup of speakers including Reverend Steve Chalke MBE, Founder of the Inspire Project, Vice Admiral Ben Key CBE, Commander of the Fleet, former boarder and boarding school governor and Bettany Hughes, English Historian, Author and Broadcaster.

We are looking forward to having a stand at this event so don’t forget to come and visit us to discuss how our services can benefit your boarding school.


Independent Schools’ Bursars Association Annual Conference – 9th-10th May

We will also be going to the ISBA Annual Conference, a two-day conference which attracts over 400 bursars and senior management staff from member schools.

The conference will be covering an array of themes from Brexit and future proofing school as a business, to the introduction of GDPR and how this will impact the education sector.

We have been an exhibitor at this annual event for 20 years as it provides us with an opportunity to catch up with schools we’ve had the pleasure of working with before as well as meet new faces.

This year is going to be particularly special for us as we would like to celebrate our 20th anniversary with both new and familiar faces attending.

Make sure you join us on our stand during the afternoon coffee session on Wednesday 9th which also happens to be the Chairman Chris Jones’ 60th Birthday.


Boarding School Association Annual Conference for Nurses and Matrons – 9th-11th July

This year’s BSA Annual Conference for Nurses and Matrons will be taking place at The Queens Hotel, Leeds from the 9th-10th July.

This conference provides people working in these roles to network with one another, whilst offering a range of exciting speakers and breakout sessions focusing on work/life blend, key policies and protocols.

This will be the first time that we have exhibited at this conference and we are looking forward to meeting the people working in these roles to learn more about the role they play in the wellbeing of students.

Summer 2018 is certainly a busy few months with exciting events catering for people from all corners of the education sector. Keep an eye out for us if you will be attending any of these conferences and exhibitions.

Putting safety first with AkzoNobel – Going Formaldehyde Free one School at a time

Bromsgrove School furniture

Keeping children safe in school and providing fit for purpose, sustainable furniture is a mantra that schools we work with adhere to.

Gone are the days when dangerous, chemically-coated furniture and fittings were all-too prevalent in the UK market place.

Bromsgrove School is a co-educational independent public school in Worcestershire who has a legacy of only using suppliers who can always deliver fit for purpose quality products and meet their exacting standards every time.

Today, Bromsgrove with 1600 pupils is one of the country’s bigger independent schools providing a unique micro-environment within the larger school for every pupil. As with most school’s development the actual infrastructure of their buildings is also key to both growth and sustainability.

We have built up a close operational relationship with Bromsgrove School spanning over nine years, working on a wide variety of projects; from single pieces of furniture through to furnishing whole boarding houses and classrooms

Working closely with the across their estate, we always ensure that their requirements are met in delivering the highest quality furniture for their students.

science laboratory furniture at Bromsgrove School

In producing these high-quality products we ensure that our manufacturing methods would be free of formaldehyde in any of the lacquering processes to safeguard both own workers and the end user.

We now use AkzoNobel Duracid FF products for all our products that require a lacquer finish. It’s a product that we prefer to use even when our clients don’t specify the need for formaldehyde free lacquer.

Using Duracid FF forms part of our commitment to continually improve the products that we manufacture.

We use hardwearing products and components, and as the furniture is being used in a school environment it’s essential that only non-harmful products are used. This is exactly where the Duracid FF range of products from AkzoNobel really come into their own.

Clive Dove, Technical Service Manager, Wood Finishes and Adhesives from AkzoNobel Wood Coatings said:

“The advanced chemistry of our Formaldehyde Free coatings is a good technology fit for this market, and it’s always a privilege to work with other specialist firms like Witley Jones who take safeguarding the school environment seriously”. Clive added, “there is a real synergy between the formaldehyde free coatings we can offer and the school furniture and fittings they manufacture, and this move is one that we at AkzoNobel wholly commend and support. Providing the right product for the right application with our Duracid FF range is actively helping companies like Witley Jones to meet a host of stringent demands”.

As part of our aim to continually improve our processes and furniture, we have chosen these products because they are hardwearing which is ideal for the heavy use of our products in a school environment. We use the lacquer range because we want to create products that do not contain harmful materials.

Mark Garnier MP opens Witley Jones Furniture Manufacturing Unit

Mark Garnier MP opens Witley Jones

Wyre Forest MP, Mark Garnier, officially opened Witley Jones Furniture’s new factory unit on Friday 16th February marking a vital milestone in the next stage of company’s growth.

We have built a dedicated 5000 sq. ft. assembly line which will create 11 jobs in the local economy.

“This is a great success story of how a family business in Wyre Forest have continued to invest and innovate to create a successful business providing vital employment opportunities for our local economy.

I was delighted to be invited by Chris Jones and Simon Downes to officially open the new unit” commented Mark Garnier, Wyre Forest MP.

We invited our suppliers, long-standing clients and associates for the grand opening of the new unit. Guests included Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Councillor Ken Pollock and Boarding School Association.

Witley Jones welcome visitors for a tour of Stourport factory

After securing £100,000 grant from the Worcestershire Growth Fund with the help of Birmingham based Central Finance, we refurbished the unit to create a dedicated assembly and packaging space which will increase production by 20 percent.

Guests were taken on a guided tour of the factory to see how the bespoke furniture is manufactured. From the inception of the design in the drawing room, guests were shown the machine shop and paint and lacquer finishing booth before visiting the new assembly unit.

“We would like to thank Mark who kindly came along to our event to officially open the new factory unit as well as all of our guests who have supported us over the years.

The hard work and dedication of our staff has been essential to the opening of our new space and the continued growth of the business.

This marks the beginning of a key chapter for Witley Jones as we plan for future growth. The new factory unit has increased production by over 20 percent and will aid our continued growth over the coming years.” commented Chris Jones, Chairman, Witley Jones Furniture.

Guest visited Witley Jones Furniture assembly unit

Wycliffe College Increase Boarding House Provision

Wycliffe College embarked on a project to increase their boarding house provision, providing a wider and flexible offering to boarding and day pupils.

Wards’ Boys House was rebuilt along with the Ivy Grove Girls House being repurposed for much needed classroom and office space.

The school now have a new mixed-use boarding facility for 13 to 18 years olds accommodating full time, flexi and day boarders in Gloucestershire. The house has been designed to provide shared social and communal areas for both boys and girls with the accommodation areas securely separated.

The aim was to move away from the dormitory style accommodation with shared facilities to create an agile accommodation and education environment.

boarding furniture

Our design team worked with the school and Buttress Architects to achieve a modern look which was more homely than previous the dormitory arrangement. It was important to optimise the space available for studying, activities and storage.

The flexible design provides an easily adaptable space that can be transformed depending on the school’s requirements. Modules and furniture have been made to create a sustainable environment allowing the school the adapt their boarding options as required.

This was driven by a need to be able to respond to uncertainty in the type of boarder and mix of age and sex that is reflected in the different room layouts. The ability to adapt and interchange the room use with the same furniture gives a huge scope for flexibility.

The furniture design was integral to the planning of these modules and ability to adapt to different configurations and layout of furniture required for full boarders or day/flexi boarders.

During the project, we designed and manufactured bespoke bedroom and en-suite furniture for the boarding facility including beds, wardrobes and storage furniture to ensure that the available space was maximised, and to create a comfortable environment for the students. We also worked with the school to design items for the linen and laundry rooms in the dormitory.

bespoke boarding accommodation furniture

We designed and fitted a sample room according to the plans that had been agreed by Buttress Ltd and the client. This was essential to get a true feel for the furniture and how each piece integrated into the space.

“Witley Jones have worked with both the client and Buttress on numerous independent school boarding projects, which provided the confidence that they would deliver an excellent service, a collaborative and integrated approach as part of the client, design team and construction team with their long-standing Knowledge and experience of the bespoke furniture market.” Chris Whelan, Buttress Ltd.

“Witley Jones recently manufactured and installed over 65 bed spaces for Ward’s Boarding House here at Wycliffe. They also provided vanity units for each of the room’s en suites, dining furniture, trophy cabinets, common room furniture and furnished the cleaners/ linen store.

They met our specific requirements for each of these area, particularly the level of detail involved with the intricacies in each of the bedrooms; they were flexible and able to adapt to the conditions of the build during their delivery and installation programme, as well as manufacturing everything within the agreed timeframe.

We are delighted with the final outcome and the level of aftercare Witley Jones offer and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for future projects.” Mark Rickard, Estates Bursar.

Epsom College complete next stage of Refurbishment Programme

During the summer of 2017 we supplied bespoke furniture for the latest phase of the refurbishment of the boarding and day houses at Epsom College which began in 2012.

The two projects being Fayrer and Robinson, have followed on from Granville, Carr, Propert, Newsome, Holman and Forest Houses.

The Fayrer project is a phased transformation from the current use as a boy’s boarding house, it is to be split into two day houses for both boys and girls, with the new girl’s day house being called Murrell.

We were asked by the school to help with the work in the Robinson House, which included work in the large common room, the kitchen area, extensive seating spaces and IT areas.

We have worked closely with NVB Architects on the design and development of the bespoke furniture for each stage of the programme.

From onset, innovative integrated electrics were installed into all furniture for the student’s personal space, providing each pupil with a study area that included storage and lighting as well as an integrated power supply and USB charging point.

The furniture has been designed to incorporate the character for the intended use depending on whether it is for a boarding house or a day house.

The items of furniture match the colour scheme of each house, this included other fabrics used throughout the spaces, curtains and bed linen.

“NVB have thoroughly enjoyed working with Witley Jones who are a very adaptable and friendly organisation.

“The development of the furniture design was a truly innovative process and the engagement of the client was considered throughout each stage of the design process.

“NVB have worked with Witley Jones on a number of projects and would recommend them to any school for the design and supply of their furniture.” commented Bill Button, NVB Architects.

“Witley Jones provide an excellent design service and this is supported by a flexible approach to installation.” Commented Sarah Teasdale, Bursar at Epsom College.

Sarah continued, “I would definitely recommend Witley Jones to a colleague. Given the majority of work is carried out over the summer, and inevitably there are unforeseen issues that cause delays to the construction phase of the refurbishment, Witley Jones are proactive in working around these challenges, thereby ensuring that all furniture is in place by the start of term.”

Dave Manser appointed as new Business Development Manager

Witley Jones appoint Dave Manser as Business Development Manager

Dave Manser has been appointed as Business Development Manager to support the next stage of our growth.

Dave will be working alongside Simon Downes and Matt Jones to deliver our high quality bespoke furniture to the independent education sector.

“I am delighted to have been offered this opportunity during an exciting time for Witley Jones. Since I started here nearly 10 years ago, I have been able to learn a variety of skills in all areas of the business and this new role represents the next step in my career.

“There is certainly a sense of achievement and I can only thank Chris, Jane, Simon, Matt and Tim for giving me this opportunity. I am looking forward to the future and the challenges that lie ahead.” commented Dave.

He started life at Witley Jones in the machine shop on a temporary basis before being offered a permanent position by Tim Whent who had joined as Operations Manager shortly after Dave started with us.

He soon moved onto the assembly benches before progressing into fitting and installing furniture which resulted in Dave becoming a lead site fitter.

“Meeting new people and building relationships is something that I have always enjoyed, working on site and installing the furniture allowed me to meet clients and ensure that we continually meet their requirements and expectations.

Dave continued to build a wide variety of skills and in 2014 moved into the drawing office to work alongside Nick Jeffs.

This move allowed Dave to develop an understanding of the design and pre-manufacturing side of the business and Nick was a real help in that respect.

Dave has enjoyed working in a family business which has helped him both professionally and personally. “I’ve been encouraged to have confidence in myself through freedom and trust and I think that’s been a key factor in my transition.

By the time I had reached the drawing office, I had experienced most areas of manufacturing at Witley Jones which is the beauty of working in a tight-knit family business. There is a real need for an agile and flexible workforce which has allowed me to continue learning and challenging myself. Although my time will now be spent working with clients and managing projects, those previous experiences will stand me in good stead.” stated Dave.

Over the last 18 months, he has been shadowing Chris, Simon and Matt on education projects as well as being responsible for Witley Direct, manufacturing bespoke home office and bedroom furniture.

During his time managing Witley Direct, Dave has been given freedom to win business and manage a wide variety of projects. He has also gained experience in working more closely with our clients in education.

“From his early days with Witley Jones, Dave has always had ambitions to progress within the company, from becoming our lead site fitter a few years ago to his latest new role as Business Development Manager. The recent changes within the company gave us the perfect opportunity to offer Dave this role to support Simon and I, and we look forward to working with Dave on the sales and project management side of the business.” commented Matt Jones, Director.

At Witley Jones, we have an ethos of promoting from within, providing our team with the opportunity to develop their skills and build a career with us and Dave is certainly a prime example of this.

“We are pleased to have been able to offer this role to Dave and to once again promote from within the company. We all wish Dave every success on his new and exciting role with Witley Jones.” continued commented Matt.

Since joining Witley Jones Furniture, Dave has seen a great deal of change in the type of furniture that clients require as well as the manufacturing process.

“The furniture we are now designing is in stark contrast to the wood grain pieces we were producing when I first started when the only requirements were for furniture to be robust and formal.”

“Whilst those designs still have their place, there is now a focus on the look and feel of furniture with architects and interior designers joining the process quite often. We have also added plenty to our manufacturing and installing repertoire over time and are prepared for new challenges as a business” commented Dave.

Dave is relishing the new challenge as Business Development Manager as we begin 2018 and is looking forward to meeting new and existing clients in the months to come.