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An impending crisis: a shortage of D&T teachers

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by Andy Mitchell, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. Andy Mitchell

    Andy Mitchell New commenter

    This time of year there are usually the largest number of teaching vacancies being filled (or not as the case may be) and I'm interested to get a feel for how recruitment is going. Or is it the case that people are not being replaced due to downsizing of curriculum time, GCSE take up etc? The point is, we face a very real crisis in the next few years. Take up of D&T places in ITT last year was 50% below target. There were reasons for that then but all the signs are that the same may happen this year. This will further fuel the trend in some schools to slim, merge or remove the subject with the justifiable excuse that 'we cant get the staff'.

    The Schools Direct model does not work well for D&T yet there are more places than ever this year given over to this QTS route. In the past year we have heard of Loughborough, the OU and now Exeter all well established providers pulling out of D&T training, largely due to them being unable to secure viable numbers.

    The most important resource is the teacher. If we don't have enough D&T teachers to staff the subject it will in some schools disappear. In much the same way as if D&T doesn't modernise in others to reflect the needs of today's young people and the country, it will be quite rightly dropped.

    I'm becoming increasing concerned that career opportunities for all of us who are passionate about the subject will consequently be significantly reduced so anything anyone can do to promote teaching D&T is in the interest of everyone who follows this forum.

    See the blog and respond at: https://www.data.org.uk/blog/2014/may/12/want-a-job-we-need-dt-teachers!/
  2. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    I had to leave the country because I couldn't get a D&T post. Its great to hear it's now been secured in the curriculum but having been back in industry for four years I can't imagine a school being remotely interested in hiring someone 'out the loop'. Its a shame, I really loved teaching...
  3. re

    re New commenter

    We had a graphics specialist leave who is not being replaced. It means that I will have to take up her Y11 group next year, leaving me with very little KS3 work. That gap is being filled by an LSA who is embarking on a SCITT course. Not at all satisfactory as he lacks fundamental knowledge.
  4. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    But is it that she "can't" be replaced or that the LSA is just cheaper... A LSA took over my job when I left...
  5. Andy Mitchell

    Andy Mitchell New commenter

    It would be useful to get more posts here as I can feed it back to DfE and NCTL. The evidence is helpful (if depressing). Irrespective of why posts are not being filled - and I suspect it is for a number of reasons, well qualified and experienced teachers are the single most important resource. Without them nothing of quality can happen.
  6. finamar

    finamar New commenter

    This forum is not used to the same extent as it used to be. I now use Facebook groups to share ideas and thoughts. I have pasted the links if you do not already know them:





    We are in the same position though; we have lost 1.5 members of the department over the last 18 months - this is due, in-part, to declining in-take but I don't know what will happen when the demographic changes (and it will over the next few years because of the numbers in primary schools). We will end up with class sizes far too dangerous for practical subjects and teachers very stressed.

    Our curriculum time has not changed but we are being hammered by the Ebacc. The top students only have one option and the rest of use have to fight for them! Over the past three years the department has only had a handful of the high attainers taking up the subject.
    veste likes this.
  7. castalia1

    castalia1 New commenter

    Most schools I know are in the same position as mine: declining takeup at GCSE and A level due to emphasis on EBACC and core subjects means that staff are being laid off. I know several departments which are down to 1 member of staff. DT departments often find themselves in faculties, so HOD's not being replaced.
  8. They seem to have been predicting a shortage of design teachers for years( at least 20 since I qualified) Schools are reorganising, and staff are not being replaced, not because of lack of applicants, but because of student numbers and redundancy in all departments. The school management team appear to believe that anyone can teach design( food anyway) including TA's or the technician. a sad state of affairs.
    veste likes this.
  9. dpritchard

    dpritchard New commenter

    My present school has only dropped in roll by about 100 pupils in 5 years, but the department has gone from 3 to 1, TLR reduced, then had to join another faculty! Where are the jobs coming from? We are becoming a dieing breed.
    veste likes this.
  10. Replying simply as we need to keep this at the top of the list. Far more important than which laser to buy or how bad your exam grades are! Keep up the good work Andy
  11. DeniseFirth

    DeniseFirth New commenter

    We have had no response to an advert for a Textile KS3-5 and Food Up to KS4 teacher starting January 2015. Ours is a high performing Ofsted 1 school. I suspect the Gove effect is really biting.
    TailwindTurner and veste like this.
  12. I have been doing supply teaching since January and was able to secure a 3 month assignment in a DT department that was given notice to improve. i covered for the Food teacher who was on long term sick. The school had a PE teacher teaching BTEC catering and the art teacher teaching GSCE Food. Both were thrown in at the deep end and didn't have a clue. This term I'm teaching KS3 textiles two days a week at a school which had supply teachers in for the previous year. Due to the increase of Academy status SMT ae on a drive to reduce costs. I know of one school that employed an experienced FE teacher who went on to gain QTS. They were happy with his teaching for 8 years but failed him on his NQT year. He was on the scale of M6 and was the highest paying NQT. The HOD is unqualified and is still working on his degree.

    I have seen a decline in DT over the years particularly in Textiles. There are schools in my area who are finding it difficult to recruit Food teachers. I m a textile specialist and have found textiles in some schools are not fit for purpose. My current assignment is not in the 21st century, I feel as if I have stepped back in time. SMT have no idea what happens in DT and need to stop trating the subject as a poor relation.
    veste likes this.
  13. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    I'm going to be very contentious here, but bear with me. You'll either like or of be horrified.

    When I attended secondary school during the 60s, my technology education consisted of woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing. We went through a series of set projects for four years and in the final one, were given the freedom to design and make anything we wanted. The projects were designed to embrace as many making skills as possible. You'll remember that in those days, very few kids had the opportunity of a university education, some went into college and some left to find jobs. I think there were 3 kids in my year group who attended university and I confess I know nothing of what they became. My best friend at the time joined Decca Navigator and within a short time was involved in designing aircraft navigation systems.

    I happened to have an interest in electronics, and made all manner of things at home as a hobby, but as far as electronics was taught at school, it was briefly covered by the physics teacher. After school, I spent a year in technical college then got a job in the NHS which allowed me to attend college one day per week to earn a qualification. One incidentally, that served me any purpose whatsever in anything I subsequently did.

    In the NHS I worked in the physics dept where initially I started as a service technician, then moved onto building custom electronic equipment, used largely for diagnosing and monitoring medical conditions and when there was an excess of work to get through in the mechanical workshop I was asked to help out. I finally found my niche in life. The range of skills I'd learned at school were adequate to walk straight into that particular job. Of course I learned a fair bit more from my colleagues, but it wasn't that long that I became known as the go to guy when anyone needed something designed and made well without any fuss. Technology became my passion in life and even now in retirement I pay a keen interest in where it's heading.

    So where am I going with this?

    Around twenty years after I left school, a neighbour I was very friendly with and who was generally quite handy with any practical task he took on, decided to enrol on a teacher training course to become a CDT teacher as it was then known. He stuck the course out for around six months before quitting, telling me he couldn't believe what had gone over the previous twenty years. He said the subject had become mind-numbingly dull. Kids were only allowed to use scroll saws because anything else that moved had been deemed to be too dangerous to let kids near. The projects the kids were given were entirely pointless and allowed no real making skills to be acquired. He claimed the kids were sullen, took no pride in their work and regarded that part of their education as more of a punishment than any other.

    Things have obviously changed since in various ways, but it doesn't seem to me in the majority of the hundreds of D&T depts I visited in the 14 years before I retired, there is anything going on that could possibly inspire the interest in technology that later became my passion. I know times have changed. the specific skills we were taught that industry could use are not in very demand now, I know I was extremely fortunate to get into the career I had, but why on earth aren't schools adapting to teach the exciting developments and opportunities of the modern age?

    And what else did my basic technology education give me? I have never in my life needed to pay someone to repair anything around the home beit a washing machine or anything else that gave up the ghost the day after the warranty ran out. I've never needed to pay anyone to mend a car and among the tasks this required was to strip down and fix a gearbox and replace the main bearings in a VW camper van. When I needed central heating in my house, I installed it all myself. Basically, I'd been taught at school not to fear technology. If there was a job that needed doing that I knew nothing about, I'd been that what one fool can do, another can learn how to, and probably get it right.

    So during my school visits when I've seen laser cut clocks, laser cut ipod holders and all the rest of the things kids couldn't care less whether they took home to show their mums, get drafted into university and end up stacking shelves in Tesco, I wonder what on earth goes on in the minds of the people who decide what kids ought to learn.

    Is there a possibility that because the teachers you're hoping to recruit are so few in number, because they couldn't get enthused about their own D&T education? Are pupil numbers dropping because they feel the same way?

    How about having some sort of D&T education that gives kids the skills to do a bit of plumbing in the first year of secondary, a bit of paperhanging and the like so they'd take a chance at doing themselves rather than need to pay someone to do it for them, and if they took pride in using their hands, they might decide to leave school and save us importing plumbers from Poland because it's all too difficult to contemplate doing ourselves now.

    How about inspiring them to do something like building a medical diagnostic tool? Too difficult? Too dangerous? No it isn't. There's hundreds of things they could do that don't involve having their bodies cut in half to test. An ECG monitor for example.

    A kid who can solder and assemble a simple flow transducer can make a simple spirometer, a device you blow into and it measures lung function. It'd be an afternoon's work if they could do it all afternoon long. Just think how a kid would feel if he knew he could make something a doctor would find useful.

    A couple of technicians I worked with back in the 80s designed one. The only difficult part was inventing the concept that you could replace a massive mechanical device that was so expensive that only teaching hospitals could afford, with a small electronic one that could be sold for five hundred quid so every doctor's surgery in the country could have one. A device that could be taken down a mineshaft to see if a patient's asthma was worse down there, and so on.

    They offered it as a viable device that the hospital could sell to help justify and pay for the existence of the physics dept when Maggie was hoping to drastically reduce staffing numbers throughout the hospital. The offer was declined so they left, patented the idea and started a business to make and sell them, adding further functions and producing a range of other respiratory medicine related products. They sold the business ten years later, having lived the life of Riley on their salaries over that time, and when the use of the instrument was widespread throughout the world. They made in excess of £20m on the sale and only sold it when they'd become bored with doing the same thing and wanted to have a go at something else. They attended similar schools to the one I did and followed similar further education.

    You might be interested to learn why their offer of donating their invention to the physics dept was declined. The dept. was run by graduates, but my colleagues had mere technical qualifications. The graduates had their heads stuck so firmly stuck up their *** that they didn't want it to be known that mere technicians could do something they wouldn't have a clue how to go about.

    Ever since that time, the primary role of education appears to be focused on manufacturing more jerks like that. The obsession with getting more graduates who can't tell ***** from clay, let alone know you don't hammer screws into walls is mind boggling. Someone ought to have worked out by now that you study of a Stark lemon squeezer ain't doing anyone any favours. That art teachers are best employed teaching art and more than likely have to pay someone to paint their nails for them and give up all hope of getting their washing done when their machines breaks down.

    I've enjoyed the couple of glasses of wine I drank getting that lot off my chest, and if I offended anyone in the process, I apologise. All I ask is you consider what I've written and ask yourselves what the point of teaching design and technology is unless it results in inspiring kids to see it as a possible exciting career choice, be they follow pushing back the frontiers of technology and getting patents with their name on, or in doing something more sensible about design so I don't graze my knuckles unnecessarily when I need to mend my car, purely because some **** thought that an idiotic, stylish feature was just what I really needed.

    Thank you for reading. Over to you now. Tell me why my thoughts are so terribly, terribly misguided.
    georgiahawker likes this.
  14. Yogi

    Yogi New commenter

    Your thoughts are not terrible and certainly not misguided

    I've been teaching 12 years but came from electrical engineering industrial background. I hate the design process with a passion and so do the kids. All the surveys I've done in recent years tell me the same thing, the kids want more practical!

    I had my A level marks scaled this year for first time, I've been told by chief examiner that top marks can only be given to shop quality products that are challenging to make and have innovative features. Where are the kids supposed to be getting these skills from? They spend most of their ks 3 time bored, dragging out the design process and the GCSE coursework now only allows 20 hours of practical (wjec). Then all of a sudden their supposed to be master craftsmen and cutting edge designers.

    Add to that the reduction in curriculum time and a non existent budget and you have a very difficult situation to manage for any dt department. I have to spend as much time with teaching students and new colleagues as I do pupils these days. They all seem to have completed a product design degree which means they can draw me a lovely sketch, render it with marker pens that cost the earth but have no idea or skill to make what they have drawn, unless it can be done by CAM. And don't get me started on the way most new dt teachers look after their room and resources. Through my apprenticeship it was drilled in to me that health and safety starts with a clean and organised work space.

    I regret leaving industry and now fear I've been gone too long to go back.
    georgiahawker likes this.
  15. I'm seeing it as a vicious circle now, in two ways.

    1. I trained in electronics. The majority of electronics teachers were older men who were about to retire. They couldn't get replacements so the subject started to be dropped. Now, I'm a young electronics teacher who's never actually taught electronics because nowhere teaches it. The same is happening with other disciplines of Technology, too.

    2. Resources. Resources are low. Priorities are low. We are not seen as important due to the EBacc and we're given "too much" money relative to other subjects, but not enough money relative to what we have to actually pay out. Our standards then get lower because we can't afford to buy metals for students to work with, we can't afford to replace coping saw blades, we can't afford to print CAD work, we can't afford to buy card, we can't afford to buy another sheet of MDF. And then, because our standards are lower, they give us less money because we're not "earning" the money we have, so standards get lower. And then we're told that our GCSE results aren't good enough and our budget and allocated time is being cut (50%, in my school) until we get results up. Which of course, is not going to happen. I foresee D&T being dropped in my school within a couple of years.

    Which brings me to my main point. That vicious circle of decline results in time being cut for subjects, which means jobs are less available, which means that teachers are leaving the profession and going into industry. Which then in turn leads to jobs not being filled in some areas because teachers in that area already left due to lack of job availability.

    I trained in Electronics, then taught Resistant Materials, got shunted sideways into Product Design, then shoved sideways again into Graphic Products (which I have no training in), and now because my subject is getting cut down further, I'm teaching Computer Science and Art as well. I'm sure that in a few years I'll be a pure Computer Science teacher and that'll be yet another D&T teacher out of the pool.

    Parents and staff undervaluing the subject is another problem. When parents are saying "Do that, you're good with your hands, it'll be a nice doss for you" and teachers are saying "You aren't capable of writing a sentence in English, go to D&T, it'll be easy", we end up with the least able students in the school and that makes us look bad. How many subjects really end up getting all of the students who are deemed unteachable in every other subject?
  16. Lots of grumbles here and I agree with some of the comments, however, "the design process" has been turned into a formulaic paper exercise with awarding bodies and whilst it is difficult to break this cycle of indoctrination I fail to see why teachers choose to follow boards such as WJEC then complain about what they require. We spent many years when I worked for AQA getting a new scheme of assessment through which still has its faults but does not suggest a linear process and does not even require students to draw. Investigation can be practical, development can be practical. We have the technology to record the work students do without resorting to traditional written folders and I was at a QCA meeting many years ago where all awarding bodies agreed to accept design evidence in PowerPoint. Thank goodness the new NC and the draft proposals for the new GCSE has "iterative design process" written large and clear. Maybe we can get back to a sensible model for designing which would keep some of you a bit happier as well as the students. I don't accept the cost argument regarding the use of metals, they are not prohibitive if the projects are kept small but I rarely see them used in schools because you cannot laser cut them.

    Basic making skills for most trainee teachers is appalling and training routes do little to improve the system as there simply is not enough time. I trained as primary teacher and have developed my making skills (which were very good at school) by spending thousands of hours working materials in school workshops. Improving this situation is my number one aim now I am retired and working with two other like minded colleagues we have just opened our own teachers centre in Bradford and we will be running making courses. Our version of the design process is based around making and I do disagree with modelmaker that we can learn a lot from looking at the work of Starck and others if you look at more than styling. We need to make laser cutting demanding, we need to embrace 3D printing but at the same time not forget the use of hand tools. The introduction of new materials which might need working in different ways means we have as always to create students who can adapt their skills to different processes.

    Andy's original post was to do with the staff shortages. Re-training them on the job will be a whole different problem if we want to empower them to deliver a technical curriculum fit for the 21st century. A sizable problem methinks
  17. Brian, while we use AQA and I have been at one of your training seminars where you discussed taking routes without drawing, I think you are overestimating the state of many departments. We don't have a camera to photograph these models - photographing the final models involves me bringing my own personal camera into school and I'm not willing to do that on a regular basis. We don't have access to computers during lesson times. We don't have a set of laptops to go around. Our computer suites in some cases do not have enough computers for a full class. By the end of last year I didn't even have any card left for modelling (despite doing it in limited quantities throughout the year). Some schools are not resourced well enough and that contributes to decline, which in turn creates problems with job availability and then staff shortages.
  18. DeniseFirth

    DeniseFirth New commenter

    Do you live in or near Herts ? You might like us.
  19. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    Brian, I don't doubt Starck has relevance in some design aspects and the fact that you, as the most likely candidate for being the best teacher I've ever met makes me trust you. However my rant was really about looking at D&T overall and asking itself what it imagines it's there for.

    I've had the impression that at some point in time, serious mistakes have been made and from then on the chances of recovering from them have been nigh on impossible. The sheer cost of replacing the heritage of workshop equipment that was so carelessly thrown away when it was deemed possible to teach technology skills with plasticine or other Mickey Mouse stuff is prohibitive. The impression I've had as an outsider has been that teachers are running around like headless chickens trying to find projects they hope will captivate their students' imagination with what they've got available, and the sort of things I've read on this forum is laser engraving eggs. For what possible purpose is a question equally as worthy as asking why the chewing gum crossed the road? We can speculate that it was stuck to the chicken's foot if we wish, but does it do anyone any good?

    All I'm saying is that if the powers that be could actually explain how their vision of current D&T direction is going to enthuse students into seeing as the best and most fulfilling thing they could ever get into, there may be a chance of salvaging the subject. If that vision holds water, I'd be the first to be positively critical about it and suggest things to help.

    At the moment though, and in my admitted ignorance of what this vision is, all I get is the impression that from the top down, everyone is papering over the cracks brought about through previous incompetency and the cracks are getting more difficult to disguise as each year passes.

    My desk is cluttered with all manner of artifacts. There isn't one I pick up and marvel at what might have gone into producing it or how it works. There are some I curse too, and ponder whether whoever made it knew what they were doing.

    If you put me in charge of it all, I'd start off teaching kids what they can actually do themselves toward something similar. Believe me, you'd have no trouble getting kids interested in the subject, and if you did that, you'd be able to find more than enough teachers wanting to take the subject up or flocking to it.

    As a schoolkid, I could never see the point in suffering the RE lessons I endured, and neither could my classmates. I felt sorry for the teachers we had who were taught it. They must have been suicidal by the end of the lesson. That's not to say there was no value in the teaching of religion per se, but within the remit they were given, it wasn't surprising it turned out to be a subject that whoever drew the short straw got lumbered with.

    That's all.

    It's just my opinion that in an age where technology rules and has the capability of Britain being a world leader, teachers are desperately fannying around with bits of cardboard in the hope of producing future technologists. Somewhere along the line, someone needs to come along, and compare what it was that converted the Japanese mastery of origami into a nation that took the world by awe by their mastery of technology into how British schools intend to do the same.

    Absolutely, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and you can eventually get to the destination, so long as you walk in the right direction.
  20. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    modelmaker I think I love you! [​IMG]

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