Design or Decline? Support Design and Technology in Schools
The Design & Technology Association is seeking your support to lobby government to reverse the decline in the study of Design and Technology in schools. Lending support to the campaign, Seymourpowell founder Dick Powell has also raised concerns about the relevance of proposed curriculum changes, describing them as ...lacking in ambition and a step backward...
Central to the issue are changes to the criteria for school and pupil performance measurement. As part of a an effort to improve basic skills, the government is considering making study of English Baccalaureate GCSE subjects mandatory in state schools.
Few would argue with the logic of young people studying the Baccalaureate. Maths, English, a science, a language, geography or history are all important. Government argues that there is still space in the timetable for pupils to select other options. However, the reality may be that the study of non-core subjects, eg. art, design and technology is disincentivised.
Numbers taking GCSE Design and Technology have reportedly nearly halved in the last 10 years. The D&TA believes that this has led to a corresponding reduction in applications to study design and engineering in further and higher education.
Some design practitioners might welcome a reduction in numbers, advocating a focus on fewer graduates with better skills, know-how and creativity. Even so, current policy appears counter productive. The bright young people we need could be dissuaded or precluded from considering industrial design careers, by what appears to be a lack of joined up thinking.
There is a contradiction in a Government that so openly promotes the importance of UK creativity, innovation and technology, but fails to promote study of subjects that help students apply "core" academic theory in ways that so demonstrably add value to UK plc.
Too many industrial designers already complain of a graduate skills shortage. To address this, BIDA members helped develop a first National Occupational Standard in Industrial Design. Practitioners have collectively defined the skills and know-how that graduates need to succeed in modern industrial design. The standard builds on essential foundations in relevant Design and Technology or Art and Design curricula at GCSE which is now under threat.
Without academic high achievers studying these subjects, not only is industrial design practice weakened, but Britain’s manufacturing, engineering and creative sectors are disadvantaged. That's £500 billion, or 29% of the UK economy.
Government to act without compromising a welcome broader strategy.
Seymourpowell has worked with the Design & Technology Association to create a short film highlighting links between Design & Technology in schools and successful business. The film cites research showing that 80% of engineers, designers, digital creatives, and architects in industry studied D&T at GCSE and above.