We have to reject EBacc for all

Published 3rd December 2015

The past two weeks we have seen speeches from ministers relating to the content of the curriculum for all pupils and specifically the introduction of the Ebacc GCSEs for all. For some time, we have voiced our concerns about the growing impact this is having on those subjects not included in the EBacc list. Official confirmation came in a speech by Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, on Tuesday June 16. She said: “(Y7) Pupils starting secondary school this September must study the key English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of English, maths, science, history or geography, and a language at GCSE.”  SecEd provides a good summary of the announcement.

The previous week Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, gave a speech entitled ‘The social justice case for an academic curriculum,’ in which he referred to Sir Ken Robinson and his views on developing creative skills. Their views contrast considerably and the content of his speech adds further to the Government stance on the paramount importance of ‘academic’ subjects and by association, the comparative relative unimportance of subjects such as D&T. It continues to be a challenge for us to convince Government ministers of the true value of D&T.  A broad and balanced curriculum needs to contribute to the development and exercising of creativity. This is a vital element enabling people to engage actively in an overtly technological society where everything around us has been designed. That said, we understand that the Schools Minister approves of the new draft Subject Content for D&T GCSE which will be published for consultation next week and which we believe will be an important step in modernising and moving D&T teaching and learning forward.

There is already a growing body of opposition to these proposals and the BBC website includes a news item today entitled, ‘Schools “will reject requirement to teach EBacc to all.”'

It was also good to see design and technology referred to an article in the Guardian on Wednesday 17th June: ‘Academic subjects alone won't 'set every child up for life'.  It states that, ‘… what successful employers, big and small, hi-tech and no-tech, are crying out for are recruits who are innovative and creative, who can think laterally, communicate clearly and work as part of a team.’  It goes on to say that it is, ‘… no accident that Apple’s success is substantially due to the genius of a design graduate of the Royal College of Art. But here in the UK, the number of students doing design and technology at GCSE has declined by 50% – that’s 50% in just over 10 years.’

Next month, the D&T Association will be launching its latest campaign and manifesto for the subject. In this we will be setting out what needs to be done to ensure that D&T is given the opportunity to deliver what has been articulated in the National Curriculum D&T programmes of study and what will shortly be published as the new GCSE and GCE subject content.  Without the support and promotion by Government, we fear that the true benefits of these reforms will not be implemented and the majority of young people will not benefit from them.  The D&T Association is not alone in campaigning for recognition to be given to creative and technological subjects. We would urge all members to join our campaign next month but also to refer to the Bacc to the Future Campaign initiative on behalf of all non-Ebacc subjects. This campaign is gaining momentum so do go in and sign the campaign petition.

If there was ever a time to be a member of the D&T Association it is now. Membership has been rising over the past few months and we now have just under 9,500 members.  Just as before, we will continue to fight for the interests of the subject and all those involved – not least young people who should have the right to actively engage with it.  We will continue to update you with information and developments here. But being able to represent D&T most effectively relies on us having a large membership.  If ALL secondary D&T departments and ALL primary schools were members, just think how powerful statements representing their views would be.

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