Design and technology undermined by new curriculum plans

Government’s new plan for the national curriculum, following its U-turn on the scrapping of GCSEs, is a disappointment to key consultation partners on design and technology.

The draft programme of study, released yesterday by the Department for Education (DfE) has caused consternation among key partners in the consultation process for the future of design and technology in schools.

Design and technology is a key subject for the inspiration and advance of engineering talent. Consultation partners such as the Design and Technology Association have been closely engaged with DfE over the last year and more.

With others, it assured the retention of design and technology on the national curriculum and advised on how to elevate the subject to meet the needs of modern industry.

Focus was laid on ensuring the principles of user centered design, embedded control and optimized functionality are taught at an early stage.

Yet yesterday’s report does not reflect these factors.

An official comment from the D&T Association said “We are extremely disappointed by the portrayal of the subject as set out in the new programme of study.

“Fundamentally the Association does not recognise the description and content as comprising a modern design and technology curriculum fit for the 21st century, the needs of young people and the country’s future economic prosperity.”

A source told TM that the new direction taken by government termed D&T as a subject for “decorative arts” rather than functional products. It reverts the representation of D&T in the national curriculum to a basic craft skills topic rather than an aspirational subject which will meet the needs of modern industry and design said the source.

A full and combined response to the review is expected shortly from the D&T Association, the Design Council and the Royal Academy of Engineering.