About our school

Sylva Foundation has established the Wood School to plug significant gaps which exist in formal wood education. Ultimately, the mission for our wood programme is to support a revival of Britain’s wood culture through excellence in creativity and craftsmanship using home-grown timber.

Our aims are to:

  • Stimulate an innovative and skilful approach to design and craft in home-grown timber.
  • Educate the next generation of consumers, designers, craftspeople, and woodland owners to ensure growth in the value of trees and timber.
  • Support the next generation of designers and makers in wood, helping to bridge the gap between education and professional life.
  • Create inspiring experiences and opportunities for young people to experience making with home-grown timber.

Our workshops

Situated at the heart of the Sylva Wood Centre are our well equipped workshops. The Teaching Barn is a multi-purpose space that can be easily transformed from workshop to classroom, allowing us to host presentations, seminars, and events, as well as a wide range of practical short courses.

The Machinery workshop is located in our recently renovated Grain Store. It has been fitted out with industrial quality equipment to process solid timber and panel products. It is a spacious, well-organised workshop that benefits from lots of natural light and we use our own wood waste to heat the building. It is home to our professional course.

Head of Wood School - Joseph Bray

Joe joined Sylva Foundation in 2018 after 13 years of delivering furniture programmes at Rycotewood. He has been directly involved in the furniture industry for over 20 years. After completing a BA(Hons) and MA in Furniture Design he initially worked as a bespoke furniture designer, maker and production coordinator, before returning to educate the next generation of furniture designers and craftspeople at Rycotewood. He is passionate about bringing education to life through industrial partnerships - leading to live projects, study trips, work experience, internships and sponsorship for students.

Joe is responsible for our professional course and coordinates a team of specialist teachers who deliver our short courses. We are very pleased to collaborate with these experts including; Martin Damen (Spoon-carving), Colin Henwood (Boatbuilding), Charlie Whinney (Steambending) and Peter Wood (Green-woodwork).

About Sylva Foundation

Sylva is an environmental charity helping trees and people grow together. We aim to help Britain's trees and woodlands thrive for people and for nature and believe that a dynamic relationship between people and the natural environment is critically important for a sustainable future. We do this by demonstrating how woodlands are relevant to modern society as well as helping ensure they are resilient to environmental change. We work across Britain and are active under four main programmes: science, education, forestry and wood.

To learn more about the work we do please click here.

About the Sylva Wood Centre

The Sylva Wood Centre is the home of Sylva Foundation located on a former farm in South Oxfordshire. Our main focus at the Sylva Wood Centre is to encourage the use of home-grown wood by supporting skills, enterprise and innovation. We do this in many ways including our business hub, business incubation and the wider landscape including our community orchard, future forest and reconstructed Anglo-Saxon house.

To learn more about the Sylva Wood Centre please click here.


We are grateful for significant support from the following individuals and organisations.

Aspen Trust

Childrens woodworking in the Sylva Teaching BarnSylva Teaching BarnShort Courses in the Sylva Teaching BarnSylva Wood Centre sign with flowersHouse of Wessex at Sylva Wood Centre