D&T GCE ‘A’ level results 2015

Published 3rd December 2015

The A level results for the 2015 entry were published today on the Joint Council for Qualifications website. The results for all examinations taken in the UK can be found here.

The D&T Association is delighted to see the results of those students who have successfully completed specialist A level D&T qualifications. We know that a lot of hard work went into their achievements and we are looking forward to being able to feature some of the products they designed here and in our publications. 

Andy Mitchell (Assistant Chief Executive) said:

‘The figures provide an important indicator as to the status of the subject and reflect trends emerging in the provision of D&T in UK schools. During a period of significant change and challenge for D&T (and in advance of forthcoming additional changes to the examination system over the next few years), the number of students engaged in A level D&T has continued its gradual decline since 2010.  The D&T Association for several years has been expressing concern relating to this decline, pointing out the contribution the subject makes to the nation’s well being and education of young people and future wealth creators.’

The small drop of 451 (-3.3%) in overall entry this year to 13240, compared to 13691 in 2014, is less than in previous years but is still concerning when set against the overall decline over the past decade. Compared to 2006, when total entry stood at just over 18500, this year’s figure represents a fall in numbers of approximately 28% over a 9 year period.  

We are equally concerned about the continued disparity between male and female entry, a ratio that has remained at approximately 60:40 over the same period.  The DfE press release today states that ‘the number of A level entries in science and maths subjects has increased by more than 38,000 since 2010, up by 17.3%.

Since 2010, the government’s plan for education has included a focus on encouraging more young people, especially women, to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. This has resulted in 16,000 more STEM A level entries for women. The number of entries in facilitating subjects by women has also increased by around 27,000 since 2010.’

The increased drive to persuade more pupils to study core ‘academic subjects’ is doing nothing to encourage any focus on D&T and or increased female involvement in STEM through this route. The latest estimates are that the UK will need 1.82 million new engineers in the decade up to 2022 (Engineering UK, 2015) and a further 1 million people to fill new creative jobs by 2030 (Nesta 2015), D&T should be promoted as a valuable ‘facilitating’ subject, attractive to both male and female students. A real opportunity is being missed. 

Concern is also being expressed by admissions tutors in the higher education sector.  A level D&T provides essential preparation for study of the many design related degree courses offered.  It is also the means by which potential student’s attention is drawn to the STEM and design related opportunities that exist for further study and future careers.

Steve Rutherford, Senior Lecturer, Product Design, Nottingham Trent University said:

‘Students presenting for interview having studied D&T are much better placed to embark on undergraduate study and come already well versed in both the principles of design and the desire to be the country’s next leading designers, in an area where we lead the world. We are concerned that with less importance being placed on D&T in schools and any related drop in uptake, the massive potential that embarking on a design related degree course will not be drawn to the attention of future applicants.’

The Association is also concerned about the relationship between future D&T teacher supply and the crisis that is emerging.  Typically, and desirably so, new recruits to initial teacher education (ITE) themselves studied D&T at A level.  It is during this period of their education that many consider becoming a teacher and go on to embark on ITE courses. Over the past 2 years, recruitment to D&T ITE has been 50% below target.  The opportunity to promote the profession is also being lost.

We know how popular D&T is as a discipline in schools. The current review of GCSE and GCE A level examinations is providing an opportunity to arrest the decline and provide a modern, relevant and appealing A level D&T qualification that will contribute to the education of young people, and the roles they will go on to fulfil in developing the culture, wealth and well being of the nation. But to realise this enormous potential the subject has to be acknowledged at all levels up to and including Government and ministers.

In September, the Association will launch its latest campaign ‘Designed and made in Britain…? This will set out both the issues facing the subject and what needs to be done to address them. It will contain clear messages for Government, Awarding Organisations, D&T related employers and the D&T community.

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