Protect and Promote Design and Technology Campaign

Our response to the DfE decision to remove ITT bursaries from design and technology from 2021

Almost two weeks ago (13/10/2020), we brought you the extremely disappointing news of the DfE’s decision to withdraw the funding of bursaries for ITT for design and technology. We have been overwhelmed with offers of help from members, our contacts in businesses and other friends and associates who appreciate that this decision is short-sighted and fails to support our collective desire to provide the high quality, rich, creative education that our students need and deserve.

Design and technology is recognised by businesses nationally as providing the vital knowledge, skills and experiences required within a modern, innovative workforce. Maintaining the quantity and quality of new design and technology teachers is essential to achieve this.

The time to act is now, and we have been working on a considered plan to mobilise our members, friends, and associates to protect our vital subject and promote its essential role for businesses.

The DfE states that their decision encourages the recruitment of teachers into the subjects that are likely to take up the most curriculum time in schools (EBacc subjects). We have pointed out that this explanation is not aligned with the requirements set by the latest Ofsted framework for inspection, which requires a broad and rich curriculum. The retention of a bursary to Classics also contradicts this explanation. This subject is not delivered by all schools, over-recruited in 2019/20 and is not even included in DfE published census data as the numbers involved are “statistically too small”.

We have informed the DfE that this decision could have a devastating effect on design and technology recruitment and for the ongoing delivery and success of the subject in schools nationally. Our letter highlights the challenges experienced by headteachers across the country, who highly value the subject and want to deliver it as an essential part of their broader curriculum, but despite their efforts have been unable to recruit a subject specialist. The DfE must understand that this inevitably results in non-specialists running the subject and with decisions reluctantly being made by headteachers and governing bodies to drop the subject from the school’s curriculum offer.

The first, and essential, part of our plan is an extensive campaign to request that the DfE reconsiders its decision for 2020/21 and to reinstate the bursary for 2022/23.

This campaign has started today (26/10/2020) with a letter sent from the association to The Department for Education and to the Education Select Committee demanding that the decision for this year be revisited, and the bursary be reinstated for 2022/3.

This is an immediate response, but the campaign will continue until the decision to drop the bursary for our subject is reversed.

We intend to recruit several business leaders to voice their support of design and technology publicly and to back our demands to reinstate the bursary.

Business connections, raised through our Blueprint 1000 initiative, are ready to act and are willing to state the importance of the subject to their business objectives and the need for students to gain the knowledge, skills and personal attributes embedded through a design and technology education.

We will also be increasing existing communication with key personnel at the Department for Education to demonstrate how vital the subject is and the consequences of reduced teacher recruitment.

We realise that while there is an urgency to this action, some of the resulting conversations and decisions may take some time to enact. We are receiving emails now from potential design and technology teachers who have stated that without the bursary, they will now be unable to afford to train. As such, we will work with industry partners and through other possible funding sources to attempt to raise bursaries for three design and technology ITT trainees for 2021.

We believe that the countries current COVID-19 induced economic situation may entice ITT trainees in the subject across from industry; in fact, there is a chance that the DfE’s decision is at least partly based on a gamble that this will happen. We do believe that there will be some good people with relevant industrial experience who may be able to proceed without a bursary in 2021/22, thus helping to protect the number of trainees in that year. We, therefore, plan to work with our colleagues in higher education on a marketing campaign to promote the benefits of a career in design and technology teaching. This action is dependent upon being able to fund a targeted campaign; we will immediately seek support for this initiative.

Our strategy is directed at protecting our vital subject, recognising that a steady line of recruits to the national teaching force is essential to both protect and grow the subject. We also seek to expand our links with business recognising the influence that this will bring to our call to reinstate the bursary. To that end, if your school works with a business that might be willing to join our Blueprint 1000 movement www.blueprint1000.org.uk or would be willing to put their support to our campaign in other ways, please contact us on blueprint1000@data.org.uk

This video is 9 years old but is as relevant to our campaign today as the day it was released. Be aware it is 9 minutes long but well worth the watch.

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This is a call to action. If we passively allow recruitment to our subject to fall to even lower levels than they are already, we are sanctioning the inevitable decline of our subject. If, like us, you passionately believe in what our subject has to offer the young people of this country, then now is the time to act.

 

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