Press releases

John Lewis launches practical skills programme

Thursday 5 September 2013

Nearly three-quarters of parents (73 per cent) of children aged 16 and under can sew on a button without help and advice, but just 15 per cent have taught their children how to do the same

4 in 5 parents can lay a table, yet less than half (48 per cent) of respondents have passed this skill on to their offspring

The majority, 82 per cent of parents are able to follow a recipe but only a third (35 per cent) shared this skill with their children

As pupils head back to school, John Lewis has launched Bringing Skills to Life, a new practical skills programme for primary school-aged children, to support the development of skills gaps identified in the research.

The majority of parents surveyed felt it important for children to learn creative and practical skills. Topping the poll was cooking, 80 per cent of parents of children 16 and under cited it as the most important developmental area for children, with almost 1 in 4 parents (22 per cent) regretting not being better at it themselves. Many respondents considered imaginative storytelling (47 per cent) and public speaking (51 per cent) important skills for children and 1 in 3 parents (35 per cent) lamented not being better at speaking publicly. The research was uncovered in a survey of 1,045 parents of children aged 16 or younger conducted on behalf of John Lewis by YouGov.

Seeking to inspire and support children's development of practical, creative and literacy skills through its Bringing Skills to Life programme, John Lewis aims to work with more than 1,000 primary schools in its first year. The curriculum-aligned programme, written by educational experts, includes lesson plans for teachers and workshop and activity cards that can also be used by parents and volunteers.

The programme has been successfully trialled with eight schools nationwide, including Prospect Vale Primary School in Cheadle. Commenting, Jan Novacki, Y3 teacher at Prospect Vale Primary, said: 'The lesson immediately engaged the pupils; they were really enthusiastic about learning new practical skills. They gained confidence and felt that they had really achieved something.

'The programme is a lovely means of helping children to embrace their imagination and develop new skills that they can use in their everyday lives now and in the future. It's a useful curriculum-linked tool for teachers too.'

A dedicated website,, has been launched to support the scheme, which includes modules on: Design & Make, Cook & Share and Storytelling.

Christine Kasoulis, director, brand development at John Lewis, said: 'We take our role as an active member of the community seriously and our community strategy is focussed on enhancing skills to create lasting change. Through each of our Bringing Skills to Life modules, we seek to provide a hands-on and inspiring platform to help build enthusiasm and knowledge of practical skills.'

The programme has received backing from the National Literacy Trust, the Design Museum and Wayne Hemingway MBE.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: 'The National Literacy Trust is delighted to support John Lewis's pioneering new community programme. Supporting literacy is a key aspect of the Bringing Skills to Life schools programme. It enables children and young people to practice key reading skills in a range of contexts - from encouraging writing and storytelling skills to reading and following recipes - this is sure to spread the joy of reading among thousands of children.'

Helen Charman, head of learning at the Design Museum, said 'At a time of resurging interest in hands on, making skills across the design community, balanced by new digital making skills for the 21st century, these creative and inspiring learning resources will extend children's experience of hands on engagement with the made world of design and craft, enriching the primary curriculum for all learners.'

Wayne Hemingway MBE, said: 'Bringing Skills to Life is a fantastic initiative with a firm focus on creativity and design. The programme aims to equip young people with creative and practical skills that will stay with them through life.'

Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1045 Parents of children aged 16 or under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31 August - 2 September 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Programme information - John Lewis's Bringing Skills to Life programme enhances and extends the support many of its shops already provide to their local schools, whereby pupils are welcomed to its haberdashery departments, community rooms and reading corners for workshops, demonstrations, master classes and much more. Website: (

John Lewis worked alongside Hopscotch Consulting to devise the programme. Hopscotch Consulting is a communications agency that specialises in education, learning and schools. Its team of education experts create campaigns, resources and programmes that reach and inspire young people and their families. It's an independent communications agency that believes wholeheartedly in enhancing education and the learning experience through creative and targeted campaigns. For more information, visit the hopscotchconsulting website (

The John Lewis Partnership - The John Lewis Partnership operates 39 John Lewis shops across the UK (30 department stores and nine John Lewis at home),, 257 Waitrose supermarkets, 39 Waitrose convenience stores, and business to business contracts in the UK and abroad. The business has annual gross sales of over £9.5bn. It is the UK's largest example of worker co-ownership where all 85,500 staff are Partners in the business.

John Lewis - John Lewis, 'Retailer of the Year 2013' ¹ , 'The Nation's Best Retailer' ² and 'Best Retailer 2013' ³, typically stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores. The website stocks over 200,000 products focused on the best of fashion, beauty, home and giftware and electrical items including online exclusives. is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK. ( John Lewis Insurance offers a range of comprehensive insurance products - home, car, wedding and event, travel and pet insurance and life cover - delivering the usual values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

¹ Oracle Retail Week Awards 2013
² Verdict Consumer Satisfaction Awards 2013
³ Which? Awards 2013


For further information please contact:

Emma J Cooke
Senior Press Officer, Corporate, Community
Telephone: 0207 592 5248
Mobile: 07770 847 871