1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Is there a Design & Technology worth returning to?

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by robert_whitelock, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter


    According to this article in the telegraph today, (sorry it's behind a paywall but I read the paper edition) entries for GCSE DT has plummeted by 65% since 2010 and the introduction of ebacc. How much longer can our beloved DT last in schools. The introduction of the new single title Technology GCSE has only served to reinforce the sad decline.
  2. robert_whitelock

    robert_whitelock New commenter

  3. robert_whitelock

    robert_whitelock New commenter

    Perhaps Ofsted’s new “quality of education” judgment might encourage schools to stem the decline of this subject. Narrow curriculum to suit eBac will be a big negative. That said, changes are needed to rebalance GCSE specifications and make them more accessible to teachers and learners
    Shedman likes this.
  4. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter


    The number of candidates studying design technology GCSE fell by 21.7 per cent this year to 99,659.

    If my maths are correct that's 21,626 fewer students than last year doing DT so 21,626 students who won't be taking the subject at A-level. How many DT departments are now unviable due to the collapsing numbers? It's all so depressing.
  5. BorderBob

    BorderBob New commenter

    This is an interesting thread, the like of which have been created many times over the majority of my career - or at least the part during which social media was available. Prior to this, discussions existed as to the different interpretations of the subject since its inception in 1988 with the first Lady Parkes Draft Order for design and technology. Since then, IMO due largely to a fundamental mistake in the early 1990s, the debate and disquiet amongst many of the profession as carried on. I'm referring to the first and subsequent revised GCSE examination specifications. Unfortunately, the awarding organisations were allowed to perpetuate the existence of seven 'endorsed' craft based titles, rather than (as is now the case) a single title. They never fully addressed the wider educational aims of the subject enshrined in law and permitted the carrying on of something that in many schools was far removed from what had been envisaged. The new GCSE, as schools that are more forward in their thinking have found, is liberating and allows for design and technology designing and making unfettered by the constraints of artificial lists of materials that previous specifications prevented, dependent on the endorsed title one was studying. Totally unnecessary and inhibiting. I well recall a discussion with a moderator who was concerned that the student in question, entered for Graphic Products had included a significant amount of electronics and that this could not be accounted for in the mark scheme!

    The lack of general understanding and adherence to the purpose of D&T education amongst the profession has also plagued the subject. Many, (possibly through laziness) failed to even use its correct title, preferring to use the acronym DT. The ampersand is so important and distinguishes it from design technology that is something completely different.

    The reference to the shortage of teachers to teach the subject is pertinent, but it is only one reason behind the more recent demise in the subject. Having significant experience as working in an HEI as part of a team providing D&T teacher education, I can testify to how difficult it has been for over 25 years to recruit sufficient suitable applicants. This has got worse. In parallel, the demise of longer route D&T ITT courses has contributed significantly to there being many 'licensed to teach' D&T teachers, inadequately prepared to do the job. This coupled by similar lack of suitable CPD and a dearth of good providers has meant many schools not having sufficiently high quality teachers, equipped to deliver what I admit is a challenging curriculum. Handing over the responsibility for ITT to schools has been foley. They lack the specialist experience in teacher training, due to the heavy demands of the 'day job' are less able to complete research to inform their teaching and see it as unreasonable imposition to have the responsibility thrust upon them without the resource to accompany it.

    Finally, it is obvious that the D&T teaching community has failed to move sufficiently and make sure that what should be a vibrant, modern and relevant to todays world subject and hence attractive to young people, is sadly lacking. I despair at the tasks frequently set to our students - many of which requiring little real design, no particular opportunity to develop craft skills but worst of all, are rooted in an age gone by. They make no concession to the use of digital design, manufacture or validating. In many cases, they are simply 'tasks' first used back in the days of CDT during the 1970/80s.

    I remain optimistic about future developments in the subject and delighted by the reception by teachers and students the new GCSE has received in many schools. The freedoms they are enjoying and the extension of the KS1-3 programmes of study are resulting in some exciting activity far removed from the production of products demonstrating n my experience, an over reliance on wood!

    What saddens me most, is that long before even the mention of the single title GCSE, we were witnessing a dramatic drop in the teaching of microelectronics and control technology. How any D&T teacher can hold their head up and having first ignored the Nat. Curr. requirement to teach the use of programmable components for example, can then go on to not teach and make these resources available to students in this day and age defeats me. The fact is, most D&T teachers simply value what they know. They appear less inclined to re skill themselves as I and many other teachers felt obliged to do to enable us to provide the experience and skills both required by an increasingly technological society. D&T Is not first and foremost about producing the designers and manufactures of the future. It is not a vocational subject, it is and should be an essential part of every young persons broad and balanced curriculum - designed to help them make sense of and function in an uncertain C21st.

    Having spent a whole career dedicated to the subject, its depressing that we are where we are. But as Amanda Spielman said recently in her presentation at the V&T, D&T has been subjected to a 'perfect storm' much of which is the result of wider educational imperatives impacting upon it. I do think we will see the subject re emerge - or at least a version of it. But I am sure that that version will be more technological, address real world needs and not remain hide bound by (when interpreted correctly should be) its valuable craft roots.

    I can assure the original poster robert_whitelock, knowing Richard Kimbell very well indeed, he like me is strongly of the opinion that the new GCSE is more than just a move in the right direction. In fact Richard attended the meetings of the DfE group that developed the Subject Content (DfE 2015) that informs the specifications. That said both he and I agree, there remain a number of aspects - such as the requirement for 15% of marks in the examination being given over to the use of maths. That I'm afraid came directly from Mr Gibb!
  6. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    An interesting post BorderBob and there is much that I agree with. However, I would query whether the new GCSE is a move in the right direction. Admittedly, I only taught one year of the course before I decided I'd had enough and retired. I struggled with the wide ranging scope of the course and found it difficult to put together a programme of study that linked together the many disparate elements that required to be taught. I was a bit puzzled why sources of energy was included in the specification when this was covered by my science colleagues. I found the content very dull and required the learning of lots of lists. The large amount of content reduced the time available for worthwhile practical work and the development of skills.

    Had I persevered, perhaps I would have developed a little more enthusiasm and began to shape the course into something a little more motivating for me and the students but I really couldn't see a way through. Perhaps other D&T staff have more imagination and are more creative with the material than I was and I wish them well. However, the bald statistics speak for themselves, student entries are down b y a fifth and recruitment for D&T teachers has all but collapsed.
  7. BorderBob

    BorderBob New commenter

    Yep. Retirement’s fun isn’t it. Though I haven’t completely given up my professional involvement.
    With respect to energy sources, I can explain. This has always been in the National Curriculum D&T PoS and of course energy is fundamental to the study and application action of technology. In just the same way as is a wide knowledge of materials. The DfE Subject Knowledge (2015) essentially subsumes the POS. In fact there is not a tremendous amount that is new, it’s just that it is to be applied in slightly more sophisticated ways commensurate with older students at KS4.

    The schools that have/will find the new GCSE comfortable, will be/are already, the ones who have been busily and conscientiously covering the KS3 content - that includes the bits relating to impact, energy, designing and making with programmable components etc ie the bits many schools ignore. Having done that, the transition to GCSE is relatively straightforward. The problem lies with schools that simply carried on with carousel models, project after project after project, with the aim being to make something to take home. What is needed is a much broader diet, including some tasks where they only make and some where they only design. Crucial is contextualisation. Getting kids to explore contexts and identify for themselves opportunities for design is both exciting and if supported/taught well kids enjoy.

    The statistics with respect to entry numbers are a concern. But it would be incorrect to say that the downward trajectory of the graph showing entries is anything to do with the GCSE. The decline began in 2004 after the removal of compulsory study at KS4. But the decline speeded up immediately after EBacc was introduced. In fact as soon as it was mentioned as a performance measure five years ago.

    As you say, teacher recruitment has all but collapsed. This year, less than 300 newly qualified teachers graduated from ITT programmes - and most of them from school based models not established, experienced ITT university teaching institutions.

    We had the best years for sure. But nothing stays the same and we will see in time a new model emerge.
  8. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    We started teaching the new GCSE in Y9 giving us 3 years to cover the GCSE spec and it still seemed a bit of a squeeze to fit it all in. We did the rotations with groups in Y7 and 8 as you described with students doing 6 or 7 weeks of DT before moving on to other things like computing, art, food, citizenship etc. We wanted to give them a good experience of DT in Y7 and 8 so a little project in each year was a key part of our plans. As you say, a new model will undoubtedly emerge but I fear that any benefits from it may be too late to halt the decline in many schools.
  9. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    The latest recruitment figures for DT teacher recruitment shows that this year just 41% of the government target was met.


    With just 26% of the target recruited last year, this is a slightly improved performance but still disastrous for the future of the subject. In terms of numbers, 299 DT teachers were recruited last year from a target of 1,167. This year it is 418 from a target of 1,022. Figures are here:

  10. donrickles

    donrickles New commenter

    Why train to teach dt in the current climate?
    The subject is now very underfunded, crowded with high class sizes, doing theory very little practical. It is a mess.

    DT has been killed off by new very poorly thoughout qualifications and slt moves to creating large sink groups of boys with poor behaviour in a non practical subject so ebacc subjects can flourish for progress 8.

    Food has no suitable place in dt it is more suited to pe with nutritionlinks.
    Shedman likes this.
  11. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I agree with every word you write. DT is in terminal decline. :(
  12. 68mrbd

    68mrbd New commenter

    Hi Robert
    Read your post and enjoyed your comments, I can only suggest trying to find a school delivering the iGCSE Design and Technologyhttps://www.cambridgeinternational.org/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-igcse-design-and-technology-9-1-0979/ (mostly delivered by private or international schools) , the difference is (1) The course split 50/50 and (2) the syllabus is still split into Graphics, RM, or Systems and Control. So you can do something like what you are already doing.

Share This Page