Parliamentary debate to influence UK’s global standing

Posted on 20 Jun 2016 by Jonny Williamson

With the imminent referendum regarding whether the UK continues to remain in the European Union dominating headlines, the Design & Technology Association is urging people to not forget about an upcoming Parliamentary debate on the nation’s skills shortage.

Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove is among the prominent members of the Leave team, working to convince the British electorate to use their votes to exit the European Union on June 23.

He believes that a leaving the EU will allow Britain to regain control of its sovereignty and decisions relating to how it is governed.

However, the Design & Technology (D&T) Association has highlighted how this view contrasts to the MP’s legacy of and enthusiasm for schools to teach the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) – based upon the International Baccalaureate.

According to the organisation, the Government’s accountability measure means that creative and technical subjects are fighting for curriculum survival; something which risks handing over Britain’s reputation and standing on the global stage for design, engineering and manufacturing to international competitors.

Chief executive of the D&T Association, Richard Green explained: “Several elite industry names from the ‘Best of British’ are voicing their concerns about the skills’ shortage and the standing of D&T.

“They fear for the next generation of engineers and designers that GB plc needs – an estimated 1.8 million new engineers in the decade leading up to 2022.

“There will be Parliamentary debate on July 4 about the increasing marginalisation of all technical, creative and artistic subjects as a result of the Ebacc and accountability measures.

Richard Green MA, Chief Executive of the Design & Technology Association
Richard Green, chief executive, Design & Technology Association.

“I call upon all who are concerned about this issue, including parents whose children are at school, to contact their local MPs – MP contact details can be found here – to encourage them to engage in this vitally important Parliamentary debate.”

Until 2004, D&T was a compulsory GCSE subject. The loss of statutory status and current accountability measures, however, resulted in a 50% fall in D&T GCSE entries between 2003 and 2014.

This has been further compounded, warned the D&T Association, by the proposal that no school be considered as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted unless 90% of pupils study EBacc GCSEs – a further disincentive to study D&T.

Consequently D&T is increasingly marginalised in many schools and, in a few, is cut from the curriculum completely.

Green continued:  “The irony and frustration is that this is happening as representatives from China, South Korea and other South East Asian countries visit GB to learn how D&T is taught.

“They recognise that their curricula lack the design and creative problem solving, linked to technical knowledge and practical making skills which our D&T provides.

“GB plc has an international reputation for design innovation and creativity, a reputation that contributes around £500bn to the economy.  I therefore truly believe that our Government, particularly the Department for [BIS], should be worried that one Chinese delegate remarked; “We want the back of an iPhone to say not just ‘Assembled in China’ but ‘Designed in China’ as well.”