Design & Technology Association outlines vision for revitalising design in the education system

Design & Technology Association, Tony Ryan

The Design and Technology Association has published its ‘Reimagining D&T’ vision paper, highlighting the urgent need for revitalising D&T in the education system.

In 2003, there were over 430,000 GCSE D&T entries and over 26,000 A Level entries compared to 78,000 GCSE entries and just over 10,000 A-Level today. Trained and qualified teachers have also dwindled from 14,800 in 2009 to less than 6,500 today.

The paper has been created after a series of face-to-face and online teacher consultations, in nine cities across the country.

The proposals include:

• Increasing the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) bursary to match other STEM subjects,
• Establishing incentives for industry professionals to transition into teaching design and technology.
• Urging the government to find funding to allow all teachers of design and technology across both primary and secondary sectors, access to a protected budget to allow for subject-based training. This will allow non-specialists, teaching the subject, to bring their knowledge and skills up to date and will allow specialists to develop their strengths in identified development areas.

The paper also advocates for a greater emphasis on sustainability, energy conservation, design thinking, empathetic design, teamwork and presentation skills.

“Design & Technology, as an educational discipline, is the great equaliser,” said Tony Ryan, Chief Executive at the Design & Technology Association.

“Personally, it gave me context and purpose to the perceived pointlessness of school, and it provided contemporaries and I with the vital alternative gateway to the academic and professional world. Design and technology are at the heart of innovation, creativity, and problem-solving.

“As a subject, it provides the relevant and necessary skills for emerging and grassroots talent who are likely to be the inventors and innovators the UK needs to address some of the biggest issues facing humanity: climate change, pandemics and an ageing society are a few primary examples that need to be tackled urgently with innovative, scalable, and sustainable solutions.

“It is also key to ensuring the UK stays competitive with a pipeline of homegrown talent with the necessary skill sets needed for an increasingly AI and tech-enabled world. We cannot afford to neglect this vital subject any longer.”

Design heavyweight Sir Jony Ive, a supporter of the report, added: “We have reached a critical time in design education. Since 2010, the government has embedded a knowledge-rich curriculum across the school system, deprioritising creative subjects and practical, skills-based education. This is a profound and ignorant mistake.

“D&T is a uniquely interdisciplinary subject encouraging practical problem solving, collaboration, empathy, and creativity as well as both critical and analytical thinking. Most importantly, it inspires young people to be curious, to trust their own ideas, and equips them to explore solutions to the world’s biggest problems. It is crucial that government, business leaders, educators and governing bodies adopt the recommendations set out in this report.”

The UK’s design sector contributed £97 billion to the GDP last year, with the figure rising to over £400 billion when engineering and manufacturing are included. These sectors collectively employ one in 10 workers in the UK.

Check out the Reimagining D&T paper here:

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