Statement on the DfE’s decision announced today to drop all bursaries for D&T ITE to “concentrate on the core academic subjects that make up the EBacc”.

Published 13th October 2020

The DfE announced on 13 October 2020its funding decisions for 2021/22 for all ITE courses for the next academic year 

The headlines from this announcement are that:

  • A £24,000 tax-free bursary will be offered in the DfE’s highest priority subjects, these being: chemistry, computing, mathematics and physics
  • Prestigious scholarships worth £26,000 tax-free will be offered again in the DfE’s highest priority subjects: chemistry, computing, mathematics and physics
  • The DfE is offering a £10,000 tax-free bursary for languages and classics trainees, and a £7,000 tax-free bursary for biology trainees.
  • The funding available across all postgraduate routes into teaching, irrespective of the nature of the course will be aligned by offering the same amount per subject. This means that schools offering School Direct (salaried) or the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship routes can access funding equivalent to the bursary amount. This ensures that all postgraduate ITE routes are funded equally.

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The devastating news is that a decision has been taken to withdraw the bursary to D&T trainees from next year. The £15K bursary was not doing the job, and there was a strong argument for increasing this amount.

The chart in image one shows recruitment as a percentage of the target for each subject for 2019-20. It can be seen that despite bursaries being available for D&T and Physics, these were the two worst recruited subjects against targets set. It is worth noting how few subjects came close to reaching targets posing the much bigger question around why our profession consistently fails to recruit and retain teachers.

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Conversely, some subjects over recruited against target in 2019-20. I am trying hard not to single any subject out, but I am personally struggling to see why Classics, with the highest recruitment against target figure of all subjects, holds a tax-free bursary of £10,000 in the 2021-22 funding round while design and technology is removed?

If this were a one-year blip it would be bad enough, but D&T has not reached target figures for ITE trainees going back years, the result is that secondary headteachers, keen to promote the subject to their students are finding it increasingly difficult to find the leadership and teacher workforce required to make the subject successful in their school. We also now have an increasing number of schools where a non-specialist is leading the subject; this at the same time as the introduction of a new GCSE in 2017 that requires an even greater depth of subject knowledge.

No doubt somebody will blame today’s decision on a reduced overall budget due to COVID-19 and an emphasis on recruiting to the core EBacc subjects. It is ironic that at the same time that Ofsted are asking headteachers to maintain a broad and rich curriculum, the DfE appears to be steadfastly sticking to its mantra that only a limited number of subjects offer the academic challenge that makes them really matter.

This subject matters, I would argue never more so than in the current health and economic crisis. As the leader of your Association, I cannot and will not sit idly by while the subject slowly bleeds a slow death through a lack of recruits.

We are now launching 'Protect and Promote Design and Technology Campaign', a considered plan to mobilise our members, friends, and associates to protect our vital subject and promote its essential role for businesses.

We will be doing everything within our power to gather a collective voice behind the subject and the need to build our teacher numbers to help create the innovators, problem solvers, designers, engineers and creatives of the future.

Tony Ryan

Chief Executive Officer

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