Technology Supplies

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Technology Supplies's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Technology Supplies is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Paul Harrington, managing
Our custom extraction systems provide flexibility
and efficiency to schools and colleges
Technology Supplies is the leading supplier of design-
and-technology and engineering products and services
to education worldwide. The organisation now works
with over 5,500 secondary schools and colleges; it also focuses
on the development of state-of-the-art “makerspaces” in
the world’s leading international schools for the provision of
science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
education. Based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, the organisation
employs around 80 staff between its office and 90,000-square-
foot warehouse facility. Its annual turnover is around £13
million, with a steady upward trajectory of yearly growth driven
by the momentum of the international market.
The importance of STEM
Over the next decade, the success of STEM industries will be pivotal for the UK’s
economic success. To maintain its £370 billion gross value, 1.3 million workers will
be required each year, from now up to 2022.
This fact reflects the growing shortfall of students who are able to enter the UK
workforce with relevant skills in STEM subjects and apply to the increasing number
of vacancies in these fields. This issue is best demonstrated through the number of
students taking design and technology at GCSE, a figure which has declined by 40
per cent in the last ten years. Design and technology has seen the greatest decline in
participation of all STEM subjects, but is responsible for providing the most relevant
training in skills for a modern workforce – skills such as problem-solving and creativity.
»Managing director: Paul
»Established in 1986
»Based in Shrewsbury,
»Services: Supply, installation
and maintenance for both
and engineering education
»No. of employees: 80
»Every year, 4.5 million
students worldwide are
taught using equipment and
consumables from Technology
Technology Supplies
We firmly believe at Technology
Supplies that STEM education is of
paramount importance to the success
of STEM industries and the wider UK
economy. Through this belief, we
have been at the forefront of modern
learning in the products and services
we provide to support schools and
teachers, both in alignment with
global curricula, and in driving the
development of 21st-century skills,
such as creativity, collaboration, critical
thinking and communication.
Ground-breaking educational
In the early 2000s, we became the first
organisation in the UK to introduce
laser-cutting machines into schools.
An industrial process had just become
available in an educational format,
allowing students to get to grips with
physical challenges which would be
presented in a future career.
Soon after, we sought out
manufacturers who could provide
a machine capable of introducing
3D printing to the classroom;
subsequently, we became a leader
in the provision of 3D printers and
resources for educational institutions.
Ten years on from the introduction
of laser cutters, the appetite for
advancing technologies in UK
schools is now dwarfed by that of
independent international schools.
Although we are still highly active in
UK schools, we now receive a third
of our revenue from international
independent counterparts, as their
desire to drive innovation and a
modern approach to learning becomes
a flagship mindset within their
school. This often takes the form of
a Technology Supplies “makerspace”
or “innovation centre”: an area
which includes a careful blend of
manufacturing technologies and
control systems for the provision of
coding education.
An innovation space in
One such project of ours can be seen
at Tanglin Trust School in Singapore.
The school provides a British-based
curriculum with an international
perspective for students between
the ages of 3 and 18. It currently
hosts students from over 50 different
In 2016, Tanglin Trust School
approached us with a brief to develop
and install a facility which could
provide a future-focused design
and manufacturing curriculum. This
would help to develop 21st-century
skills, alongside “making” skills for
today’s workforce, such as coding
and computer science. Presented with
an empty shell of a room, our team
leant on its combined background
of over 100 years in educational
workshop environments, many
members of which had practical
teaching experience in schools. They
designed a configuration which met
the brief for innovation, yet maintained
practicalities for working space,
flexibility and storage solutions.
Not only does the completed
environment allow students to work
with the latest-generation 3D printers
and in “clean” control technology
(coding) zones, it also merges with
A traditional “making”
area within Tanglin Trust
School’s innovation
space provides both
machinery and tooling,
including a laser cutter
We have been
at the
forefront of
learning in the
products and
services we
Highlighting best practice
subtractive manufacturing techniques
such as CNC routers, scroll saws and
hand tools. Working spaces also allow
for collaborative learning, and through
our proprietary mobile workbenches,
machinery can be easily and quickly
repositioned to suit the requirement of
any given lesson.
We have continued to work alongside
Tanglin Trust School, supplying
consumable materials and additional
tooling for their innovation space.
Thanks to the success of the initial
project and its appreciation among
staff and parents, as well as students,
we are now in discussions with the
school about a phase two project.
The demand for innovation spaces
in educational settings is growing
on the success of those we have
already installed. The world’s leading
independent schools and groups
regard us as the global leader in their
implementation; these include GEMS,
Nord Anglia Education, Taaleem, Bloom
Education, Repton School, Shrewsbury
School, Wellington College, Harrow
School and manymore.
Relationships on home soil
We are also heavily associated
with the development of over half
of the UK’s university technical
colleges (UTC), installing engineering
workshops for manufacturing-focused
secondary education curricula. Taking
Silverstone UTC as an example, we
worked with industry partners and
the college to provide an industrial
facility which took key elements
from the motor racing sector and
integrated them into a specialist
In 2017, we applied the same
transitional approach between
education and industry in our work
on the Dyson School of Design
Engineering at Imperial College,
London. This world-leading higher
education institution required a
full-scale revamp of its engineering
workshop, and enlisted the STEM
education experience of our
Following a successful initial project,
Imperial College is now planning a
second phase of its development,
which will be one of over 50 major
projects for us this year.
Looking ahead
The UK’s education market is seeing
a minimal amount of investment
at present, and this circumstance
has remained constant for the last
few years. We have maintained
relationships with thousands of
schools, colleges, universities and
multi-academy trusts to ensure a
strong UK business network. Based
on the success of previous years,
however, we foresee that future
opportunities for growth will come
from introducing our unique, specialist
proposition to further international
education markets over the next
The demand
for innovation
spaces in
settings is
growing on
the success of
those we have
Our mobile workbench
solutions offer flexibility
in students’ learning,
making even small
spaces efficient and

This article was sponsored by Technology Supplies. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy