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We had the OFSTED call this week. That acronym might not mean much to anyone who hasn’t been involved in the British education system but OFSTED carry out school inspections. And anyone who has been involved with them will know that they pretty much sow terror, despair and misery in their wake.

I head up our Nurture/Learning Support team and am also the behaviour specialist so it was decided by senior management that the few hard core behaviour problem children we have in school would be taken out of their various classes and corralled in the Nurture Room where instead of lessons they would do something interesting, arty and creative for the duration of the inspection (a day and a half) under my tender care. What I think about this is pretty much unprintable, but as these six boys are often violent and abusive, no one wanted to risk the outcome of the inspection on one of them kicking off.

So I decided that we would felt. First  I showed them some pieces of handmade felt and demonstrated how to pull tufts of fleece and lay them out in layers to form a big piece of flat felt (about 70cm by 70cm) for the base of the design. They used blue and white fleece to create a stream running diagonally from one corner to the other and I showed them how to ‘paint’ with tiny wisps of different coloured fleece to make pebbles in the stream.

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Then they added different greens all around the stream for grass and bushes and started to create the felt. While they took turns in pairs to roll the huge sausage of felt, bubble wrap, net curtain and fleece, I started the rest off rolling fleece around small balls to make flowers. Once the fleece had felted tightly around the balls I cut slits into the top to make petal shapes and they carried on rolling, watching the slits become holes and the felt gradually shrink further and further down the balls until they became little tight cup shapes.

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The next day they made a piece of green felt about 40cm by 30cm and designed some leaf templates. I cut leaves out of the felt while they added stitches and beads to make the centres of the flowers.

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Most of them had never embroidered before so we had to give quite a lot of initial support, but several of the boys really took to it and once all the flowers were done they began to add central veins to the leaves with whipped and threaded running stitch.

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Once each element was finished they told me where they wanted them putting and I needlefelted the flowers and leaves in place, which worked brilliantly and was much quicker than stitching!

The finished piece:

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They are extremely proud of it and I’m just pleased we managed to keep a powder keg dry for the best part of two days.

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