D&T GCE ‘A’ level results 2016

Published 18th August 2016

The A level results for the 2016 entry were published today. The results for all examinations taken in the UK can be found on the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) website.

The D&T Association congratulates all those students who have received their results today and particularly those who have been successful in A level D&T. 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.  We also know how hard D&T teachers will have worked to enable these results and they are a credit to the profession.

However, we are very concerned that the drop of 763 (-5.8%) in overall entry this year 12,477, compared to 13,240 last year continues a trend that began in 2004 when the requirement to study D&T at key stage 4 was removed.  This has led to a decline in the overall entry at GCSE and as a consequence, a similar drop at A level. At its height in 2006, the total entry stood at just over 18500. This year’s figure represents a fall in numbers of approximately 33% over a 10 year period. 

The Association is expecting to see a further drop of some 10% in the overall entry for GCSE D&T when the results are announced next week. Based on the current trend, this will undoubtedly signal a further reduction in the A level entry over the next two years.

These figures need to be considered against the backdrop of population figures. ONS 2015 mid-year estimates show an expected decrease in the age 17 to 18 population across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, by 1.5% and 3.1% respectively. This drop of just 1.7% in entries at A level, against a 3.1% population fall implies either more students are taking A levels, or those students sitting A levels are sitting more of them. This brings into sharp focus the situation regarding D&T.

The DfE press release today is keen to point out that: ‘mathematics remains the most popular subject at A level and attainment remains stable.’  It goes on to say that:

‘the proportion of students studying STEM subjects at A level remains stable.’  This would appear not take into account D&T and illustrates further our concern as to the perceived value given to the subject – central to our current campaign Designed and Made in Britain…?

Andy Mitchell (deputy Chief Executive) said today:

“Once again the decline in the entry for A level D&T indicates a cause for concern. Emphasis on traditional ‘academic’ subjects is having a pernicious and damaging effect on the status of the D&T and reflects trends emerging in the provision of D&T in UK schools.  Everywhere we hear of the chronic shortage of young people emerging from school, in possession of exactly the type of skills and capability our subject nurtures.  Yet emphasising D&T’s value, at a time when industry and business needs to embrace innovation and harness creative talent, fails to be a Government priority.  This is worrying for young people and their future - which will undoubtedly be increasingly dependent on technology and our ability to solve real world problems.”

The Association is also concerned about the relationship between the examination statistics and future D&T teacher supply. Typically, 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.  For several years we have witnessed a crisis in D&T teacher recruitment, a further trend that we are expecting to see continue when recruitment figures for 2016/17 are released later this year.

The forthcoming years will be crucial in addressing what otherwise could be a disaster for the United Kingdom if we are to keep up with competitor countries. The D&T Association is now working with both China and United Emirates, supporting them in their desire to establish D&T as part of their school curriculum. It is ironic at a time when they are recognising its value to the development of their national economy and wellbeing, Great Britain is failing to do so. It is equally ironic at a time when our resounding and unprecedented success in the current Olympic games, is being publically acclaimed as a consequence of top-level investment. One can only wonder what would be the result if similar value and investment were given to D&T.



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