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Is DT in decline?

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by splinters, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    I noticed a dearth of jobs in DT over the last year (in Yorkshire) and in general I sense it is on the decline. A local indy school has just removed DT (and PE) from the school entirely as exam subjects and I have heard of another state school threatening the same if results are bad next summer.
    I know the eBacc is forcing us down the list of subjects to keep, and I imagine the cost of machinery and materials plus the health and safety considerations are tempting reasons to ditch the subject.
    Very sad if so as its all I have ever taught and love the subject. Anyone other opinions on this are welcome.
     
    Wile7 likes this.
  2. Andy Mitchell

    Andy Mitchell New commenter

    I agree there do seem to be very few D&T posts being advertised. that does not mean however that vacancies do not exist. If you talk to Professor John Howson (TeachVac),he will tell you that there are currently (as of early last month) over 1200 D&T teacher vacancies nationally. SO why is that?

    Well some schools are not advertising in the belief that they will get no applicants. And they may be write. This has happened recently and several schools have reported to the D&T Association that the quality of applicants was so low they did not interview.

    Knowing this, some schools thinking of budgets choose not to advertise in the TES due to cost.

    I think there are other schools who for budget and curriculum reasons are also deciding not to replace staff. Its a tradjic situation we are in for many young people who will not be provided with the option to study D&T which is in my opinion ethically wrong.

    Much of the blame has to go to Government of course but I also believe that it is schools who have the responsibility to decide on their curriculum and this should broad and balanced. But in situations where the D&T that has been delivered has been very poor, where there really is a shortage of replacement staff, then I can understand why they have little option but to take the course some of them are doing. That's not to say I agree with it or condone it.I most certainly don't and strongly believe in a state curriculum.
     
  3. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    I am not arguing with the facts Andy but I have consistently delivered good teaching and excellent examination results for over 22 years. I have had project work featured in two consecutive issues of Designing magazine last year and my students have often achieved 100% for their CA work. I am well qualified to teach secondary and Post 16 and have a MA in education but I am struggling to find any permanent work in a commutable distance. I even have an online portfolio of work so prospective employers can see years worth of project work alongside my own commercial design work.
    As I have recently left a head of faculty role I find that I am met with suspicion if I apply for class teacher roles (not ideal, but I wont sit around waiting for 'dream' jobs to appear) or that I am 'too expensive'. I was even told I was over qualified for a position!! Maybe its just an excuse rather than mention my age (but I'm only just 46!).
    Bottom line is, I am actively looking for work but I just don't see much out there in my area and certainly not HOF. HOD or assistant HOD.
    Having worked as a visiting moderator I am more than aware of the wide range in quality of teaching in DT. It saddens me that my potential as a candidate might be judged on existing perceptions of the subject. I have dropped you a message Andy.
     
    Wile7 likes this.
  4. Andy Mitchell

    Andy Mitchell New commenter

    Saddens is one word for it I completely agree. The position the subject is currently occupying is not good and the result of a confluence of many factors that have a over a period of several years, had devastating impact on D&T in many schools. These include: budgetary cuts, cut in curriculum time, sneezing due to other subject being prioritised, misunderstanding as to what the subject is and should comprise of - by both non-D&T specialists and D&T specialist alike, failure to modernise and for 27 years move D&T in the direction that the National Curriculum has required, I could go on. Plus of course the catastrophic effect that the demise of previously successful models of ITT and the removal of routes through to working in a support capacity for the subject outside of the class room.

    I'm sorry you are having no luck finding a job in your area. It does sound though you are very well qualified and experienced and in more recent years would have had no difficulty. I also understand that you quite reasonably feel tied to an area.
     
  5. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Not a 'specialist DT teacher' but having taught the subject many years on supply with some superb practitioners (one of whom was a County adviser for DT) I think one of the biggest problems is the cost of the subject.
    H & S concerns and trying to 'keep up' with technology mean schools are reluctant to pursue the subject.
    I know when I took over at my last school to try to develop DT within the school it took time to build up resources and to try to do the subject at exam level was prohibitively expensive- especially if one were trying to offer all the areas; Food, Textiles, Electronics, Resistant Materials.
     
  6. Andy Mitchell

    Andy Mitchell New commenter

    Don't disagree with that Lara mfl05. By its very nature, the subject does move on and has to commensurate with the developments in technology and curriculum. But it need be prohibitively expensive. Actually the cost of undertaking much of what we should be doing now is actually less than what was spent per pupil some years ago when the expectation was that for example, big pieces of furniture were produced. Too often the excuse given for not embracing a more modern curriculum is one of resourcing whereas in fact, often it comes down just as much to for instance, the nature of the challenges that pupils are being set.

    Its all about priorities and what schools choose to spend their diminishing resources on. My point I often make is, if it can be happening successfully in one school, why can't it in another?
     
  7. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    Good design often filters grand aspirations down to small understated projects. I still guide pupils to a 30cm cube as an ideal size for projects and they can cleverly use very little materials.
    I think there was a time where schools purchased CAM to keep up with or ahead of the curriculum needs. You can still make a project without any CAM investment and CAD such as SketchUp is free.
    Yes, its still costly to run and there are always H&S concerns but I have run a successful department with a small Roland CNC router, a tiny budget and no major purchases for at least the last 5 years. Its not what you have its what you do with it and good design thrives in austere times.
     
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I must admit I ran my department with very little resources and I agree 'necessity is the mother of invention' as to how to develop skills using few resources. But this was just at Primary level, I know what we did at Secondary level required more. Mind you my colleague used to teach a lot by letting students discover how things worked by taking apart donated materials, eg old tape machines, radios etc. Children used to really love those lessons.
     
  9. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    I still have this idea of giving students a short piece of 2"x2" PSE timber and seeing what ingenius things can be made from it. Thats a few pence worth of materials ;-)
     
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  10. Andy Mitchell

    Andy Mitchell New commenter

    'Its not what you have its what you do with it and good design thrives in austere times.' Very true. And its not just about making stuff. What I'm interested in is what challenges students are being set that results in them making stuff yes and using a resources in interesting ways. I need to be convinced of the educational value in simply providing students with a lump of wood and seeing what they can make. Much more interesting would be to let them play with a peltier cell for instance and come up with creative uses for it. then they might find that to develop the prototype they then need to use the piece of wood - but more likely it would be something else. My point is, whereas using tools and materials is rewarding, if we are talking about the value of D&T (the subject of this thread), then I think we should be paying more attention to innovation, creativity and design as fundamentals and starting points.
     
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I must admit my 'mantra' for DT is ' it's not the finished product that's so important, but the process of getting there!'
    I often quote a student with an A* who had an unfinished electronics project, but made copious notes of every problem and what they did/ how they changed the criteria /design etc. that earned the marks.
     
  12. splinters

    splinters Established commenter

    It was merely an example Andy and a lateral thinking exercise rather than product development. I trained as a 3D designer before teaching and still work commercially so I appreciate the importance of user centred design and I am naturally a creative risk taker. I simply used the wood as an example of what variety of designs could be produced from just that small amount of material.
    As a moderator @Lara mfl 05 I appreciate that a challenging but incomplete design can be worth more than a finished project that is 'less ambitious'...its all about level of demand.
     
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. Wile7

    Wile7 New commenter

    I think one of the bigger issues (non UK centric) is that the onslaught of STEM/STEAM and 'Makerspaces' is confusing our subject.

    Design (and Technology) has always been about the application of Art, Science, Maths etc. but somehow folk are trying to re-invent something that already exists. Makerspaces? That's a workshop or Design studio. Nothing new BUT its causing confusion amongst those that don't know what Design education is about - especially in management circles - add in digital design etc. and it all goes south....and that's dangerous.

    I was (am) shocked to see the demise of teacher training establishments in the UK. Yes, I did a 4 year B.Ed at Middx Poly back in the day but to be honest, even with two years of teaching and four years of training in the subject over the duration of the course it's still not enough...you still learn on the job so to sperak But the groundwork was sound. We then went down to two-year B.Eds, then one year PGCE's and now 'on the job' delivery? Really? Madness and shows a total lack of understanding by government. It's all related to cost and the need to rush through teachers due to shortages.

    I wonder what other professions I'd be allowed to train 'on the job' for....Architect? Lawyer? Mechanical Engineer? Doctor? Yes, I know, pushing the boat a bit but when you stop to think about it the whole thing is ludicrous.
     
  14. reddevil

    reddevil Occasional commenter

    I know that you're all discussing KS3 and above but thought I'd throw in that my KS2 daughter has done no DT yet this year and studied (I use this term very loosely here) one unit in Year 2. I think it's sad, I enjoyed teaching DT in KS2 and the kid loved it.
     
    Wile7 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. reddevil

    reddevil Occasional commenter

    Oops, that should say kids!
     
  16. henryrolls

    henryrolls New commenter

    Sadly I think that the governments we have recently had are uninterested in investing in a UK manufacturing industry, which has meant a lack of interest in our subject from the likes of Gove and Nicky Morgan. It has been the case for long enough to have a skills shortage with new DT teachers, that and the austerity measures make these short sighted non-investments in DT only worse. Just look at Germany, their DT in schools is excellent, they value and pay engineers well and we all drive around in German cars.
     

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