Why D&T Departments nationally need to cease PPE production and look on it as a job well-executed

Published 26th May 2020

The mobilisation of D&T departments nationally to assist front line clinical workers in their hour of need was a rare moment of light within a very dark period for the country. At the last count, what started with a trickle of schools answering public shout-outs for urgent assistance, turned into more than 430 schools nationally producing over 400,000 items of PPE.

The efforts did not go unnoticed with TV coverage in several areas through local news channels, articles in regional newspapers and national coverage through a feature item in the Independent Newspaper and many high-profile social media posts.

A number of schools followed our advice to contact their local MP and make them aware of the work that they had carried out and the broader issue of valuing D&T and technical education more highly within the school curriculum. We have seen copies of amazing letters of support with many MP’s more than happy to take the wider cause back to the House for future discussion. We would like to follow these up with the MP’s concerned, so if you have received a positive response we would appreciate site of it at info@data.org.uk

The work that schools were carrying out was always time bonded and was an emergency response to an evident and urgent need. Most NHS Trusts and care homes were more than happy to accept donations of equipment made in schools on the grounds that PPE well-made in schools was better than the option of sending clinicians to face COVID confirmed patients without adequate protection.

In the last month, the government does appear to have caught up with front line demand reducing the need for schools to continue to produce PPE. Of more concern is a recent change in government advice, making it almost impossible for schools to conform to the necessary regulations and guidance.  Clinical outlets have been categorically instructed not to accept any PPE that is not CE marked and does not come accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity.

For this reason, our advice is that unless you have the appropriate CE mark in place (one school that we know of was chasing this at a significant cost), then you should cease to produce and distribute PPE with immediate effect. Please note that we have been informed that no disclaimer will protect schools from this point.

What we did as a community was the right thing to do at the time and almost definitely saved lives. PPE production has united D&T teachers nationally and has made parents and decision-makers reconsider what we do and what we have to offer to a post-COVID curriculum. The challenge now is to use the momentum gained from this work to drive the subject forwards. Rest assured that as your professional association, we have this!

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