The Ebacc, the skills gap and the future of D&T

Published 2nd December 2015

Whether the Government’s latest proposals on the English Baccalaureate will raise academic attainment has been the subject of heated debate in the media recently. However we have heard very little about how Design and Technology will feature in these proposals.

While standards of English, Maths and Science are clearly important it is hard to see how, on their own, they will deliver the level of innovation, growth or employment that are so badly needed to secure economic recovery. Throughout our New Vision for Design and Technology campaign, business leaders told us that what they are really looking for are the applied skills that are developed in D&T classrooms, such as creativity, problem solving and the ability to present ideas. These skills are going to be crucial for the future growth of our economy, to help young people thrive in an advanced technology-driven jobs market and to help address the crisis of persistently high youth unemployment as evidenced by the Department for Education’s NEET figures

As our patron Sir James Dyson makes clear:

“Raising standards in education is a priority, but we must gear up a generation to develop tangible ideas and exportable products. Hands-on learning combined with academic rigour creates these people – Design and Technology has the potential to do this well, but so far has been left out of the plan. If testing knowledge retention over creativity and problem solving is the approach of the English Baccalaureate, where will these vital skills come from?”

The Prime Minister noted, in the first meeting of his new Cabinet On Wednesday 5th September, that educational policy is going to be critical in tackling our current economic challenges:

“What really matters now... is that we demonstrate this is a government that means business”
“Every department is an economic department.”
“The education department is about training a new generation of young people and making sure they are ready to work in business, in industry, in commerce and increase the wealth of our nation”

There is a risk that on their own the Government’s proposals could lead to a widening gap between the experience of school and the workplace and between the needs of economy and the skills that schools deliver. The London Design Festival and London Fashion Week have shown the enormous contribution that Britain’s creative sector makes to the world, but this creativity needs to be actively nurtured in Design and Technology classrooms for it to continue in the future.

We look forward to finding out more about the Government’s plans for Design and Technology and to working with them to make sure that our schools deliver the skills that we will need for the future. Below are links to the Government’s statement and consultation papers on the English Baccalaureate proposals.

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