The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, addresses the Creative Industries Federation.

Published 3rd December 2015

Yesterday (16th July 2015) the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, addressed the Creative Industries Federation on the topic of creative and cultural education. Her speech can be read here. In the subsequent Q&A session she was joined by the School Minister, Nick Gibb, and the following exchange related specifically to D&T:

Nick Gibb: You must remember that the Arts are compulsory. When we reviewed the curriculum we took a conscious decision that Music and Art and Design and Technology would remain compulsory throughout compulsory education up to the end of Key Stage 3. And that is because we value those subjects. And then the next question is what happens when we go into Key Stage 4 and the Ebacc. But, as I said, there is still plenty of room outside the Ebacc to study Design and Technology, Art and Music.

Annabella Coldrick, Director of Policy and Research, Design Council: On that point, we know that the creative industries are growing at 3 times the national average and that design is the fastest growing sector within that. And yet at GCSE I understand that Design and Technology fell from 450,000 students 10 years ago to 270,00 today, so nearly by half. So whilst we are seeing a growing number of jobs, perhaps relying on individual employers to speak to schools, maybe we need to look at where that future growth is and for Britain, which has a huge strength in design, to make sure we are feeding that pipeline of talent and putting incentives in place for students to study design.

Nicky Morgan: I agree. And actually Nick might like to come in about Design and Technology and the content of the curriculum. Because as I said in my speech, arts and design are very much in the forefront and we are looking at making all of our exams more rigorous and I expect that some of the drop you talk about is also because of the move to more vocational qualifications which actually didn’t help young people often to gain the right skills. If you remember in the last Parliament, Alison Wolff did a review of vocational qualifications, and actually I want to move away and call them Technical and Professional now, because I think we have got the right qualifications. She rightly identified the ones that are most useful in the world of work and to continue studying them and that’s why we have looked at the Design and Technology curriculum for GCSEs and A levels to make sure that, as you say, they are really helping young people to be inspired by the opportunities which are out there.

And I think you are right, it is individual employers absolutely play a part. …. But I also think Design and Technology, I have a great D&T lecturer, professor, at Loughborough University in my constituency and we have been talking about laser technology, for example, which is something which is very much needed in the world of work but isn’t necessarily taught in an inspiring way in schools and we have been talking about CPD and other things.  So I think there is a lot we can do. I want to involve Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, about the role of Design and Technology.

Do you (Nick Gibb) want to say a bit about the reforms and the timing of them and consulting on them.

Nick Gibb: Yes, the key thing to also say is that the numbers taking Design and Technology have been falling since 2007, long before the Ebacc was introduced, long before this Government was in power. So what we have done is reformed the Design and Technology GCSE in order to make it more aspirational and actually we have worked with the Dyson Foundation and other expert groups in this field and I think what we have created, and we are consulting on, is a much better GCSE and A level in these subjects than we had before and I can’t predict these things but I hope we will see an uptake in increasing numbers taking these qualifications because they are better than the qualifications we had before.

Richard Green, who attended the event but was not selected to ask a question, says, “This is a deeply disappointing answer. It places the emphasis for the future development of the subject solely on the reformed GCSE and A level qualifications. Neither of these come into effect until 2017 and in the intervening 2 years the subject in many schools will certainly be pushed further and further to the periphery of the curriculum. We are already witnessing cases where it is being cut from the curriculum altogether, and with it the removal of what should be an entitlement for all young people.

There are serious challenges facing the subject now, including:

  • Ebacc and Progress 8 accountability measures which continue to marginalise D&T and other creative/technical subjects. This is where the reality in schools doesn’t match the rhetoric of the Education Secretary and Schools Minister, who both asserted throughout the event that they valued a broad and balanced curriculum, and that schools should too.
  • a serious shortage of trainees entering secondary D&T ITT courses.
  • teachers needing, but having difficulty accessing, subject specific CPD

These are just some of the reasons why the D&T Association will be launching a campaign in September to highlight these challenges and how and why they must be addressed. Watch the website and membership publications in September, for details.

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