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Ofsted has not helped to reverse D&T decline

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by Shedman, Oct 23, 2019.

  1. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter


    The Ofsted chief inspector has acknowledged her organisation has not done enough to champion creative subjects like design and technology.

    Amanda Spielman made the admission as the Victoria & Albert Museum launched a campaign to reverse the decline in the number of pupils studying D&T.

    Speaking at the launch of the new programme, V&A Innovate, Ms Spielman said the number of children studying the subject at GCSE was in “long-term decline.”

    She said D&T had faced a “perfect storm” over the last 20 years, having been dropped as a compulsory subject in 2000 and facing competition from BTEC qualifications in 2004.

    And she acknowledged that the introduction of the English Baccalaureate and Progress 8 had “done nothing to stem the drift.”

    Ms Spielman said the EBacc’s focus on a “limited set of core academic subjects” may have dampened take-up of D&T, and that Ofsted “haven’t done as much as we should have done to help.”

    GCSE entries for D&T fell by 22 per cent between 2018 and 2019, from 117,605 entries in 2018 to 90,805 this year.

    The new V&A programme aims to promote D&T skills to key stage 3 pupils, and includes an online resource hub for teachers, as well as toolkits, video guides and activities for pupils.

    Teachers can sign up their schools to the V&A national schools challenge, opening in September 2019, which encourages pupils to submit design projects based on a range of issues – such as sustainable food, eco-friendly clothing and mobility – with the best projects featured in an awards day hosted at the V&A in 2020.

    Only state schools are eligible to enter, and 60 schools have signed up to the programme so far.

    The V&A’s director, Tristram Hunt, said the programme aimed to promote “the kind of design skills young people need in the future” to inspire the next generation of designers and entrepreneurs.

    Mr Hunt said there was a “crisis” in the uptake of DT, and that at “the moment where we should be promoting creativity in our schools, we’re stripping it out.”

    He said the fourth industrial revolution and the growth of artificial intelligence presented serious challenges for the future.

    Museums needed to “step in” to try and fix the crisis, as they had a historic duty to educate alongside schools, he said.

    Dr Helen Charman, director of learning at the V&A, said the programme aimed to showcase what a “broad and rich curriculum looks like” to foster the creative and critical thinking skills for the 21st century.

    “We need to create a design studio ethos in every classroom,” she said.

    Oh dear. Impotent hand-wringing from Spielman over the decline of DT in schools and as for the ludicrous suggestion that museums can step in and fix the crisis well are they going to pay for the maintenance and staffing of school workshops? Will they provides the resources and teaching staff needed? Museums can put on some excellent displays of past and present technological developments but what about the future? Who are going to be our new engineers, designers and innovators if the basic skills are not taught in schools?

    The Ofsted tail wags the education dog and until, in our current dysfunctional system, Ofsted starts inspecting and assessing schools on their provision of DT and other creative subjects then the decline will continue.
    Geoff-o likes this.
  2. SDL

    SDL New commenter

    Great report...The question is why are pupils not opting for Design and Technology at GCSE..? Is it something to do with the new DT specification which forces students to study all areas of DT as opposed to focussing on one area e.g. graphics, textiles, product design/resistant materials. The new specification is not favoured by many DT teachers and has resulted in a reluctance to teach it (some offering BTEC Art and Design). Students used to opt for DT because they wanted to focus on one DT area. The dilemma we face as DT teachers is that students have to learn ALL of the material areas in order to gain a decent grade and satisfy the specification requirements. ...Who made this ridiculous decision??
    Students are simply 'put off' the subject because they do not wish to learn about material areas that do not interest them. Girls are not opting for DT because they might feel uncomfortable learning about the working properties and characteristics of woods, metals and plastics as opposed to textiles and the same applies to some of the boys who have no desire to learn about textiles and fabrics when the reason they chose the subject was to design and make products within the technology workshops.

    The specifications rely too heavily on the (theory) completion and understanding of ALL of the material areas and have sadly drifted away from the focus of studying one material area in depth. This has resulted in students choosing other subjects at GCSE. This is the reason why we are experiencing a short fall within our industries not receiving students from schools with the practical problem solving skills they require. This shortage in skills will continue as long as the current DT specification is offered. Something needs to change FAST in order to save the subject from further decline. The current Specification no longer caters for those students who are more practical and instead offers a dull and unexciting and regimented doctrine which aims to test students knowledge of where materials come from and how they are manufactured as opposed to testing their imagination, creativity and intuition in providing solutions to practical everyday problems which aim to improve the quality of life for everyone. RANT OVER!! (Advanced Skills Teacher)
  3. cosybear

    cosybear New commenter

    This is much like the previous move from individual sciences to general science - a poorly designed; poorly thought through mishmash of Physics , Chemistry and Biology with a bit of 'Practical Science' sprinkled on top.

    The government would have you believe that the reason for this some "educational research" twaddle. The reality being that they couldn't recruit enough specialists and the equipment requirements were much less.(i.e. it was cheaper)

    Now we have the same in D&T - a poorly designed; poorly thought through mishmash of Resistant Materials , H.E. and Textiles with a bit of CAD sprinkled on top

    I'm waiting for them to introduce General Languages - a poorly designed; poorly thought through mishmash of French , Spanish and German with a bit of Chinese sprinkled on top
    Catgirl1964 and donrickles like this.
  4. Ex-teacher

    Ex-teacher Occasional commenter

    As I've said before, the new syllabus was one of the reasons I got out when I did. That, and the structure of the school meaning a 2 year GCSE, and a 3 year GCSE starting at the same time, meaning having to write two new courses...

    The thought of teaching textiles amoungst other things to the low ability "hackit and bodgit" boys who were traditionally timetabled for a Friday afternoon "because they can just make things", and who just wanted to make things, worried, almost scared, me immensely. SLT didnt seem to be concerned...
    Catgirl1964 and donrickles like this.
  5. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Precisely my thoughts on the new wretched technology 9-1 specifications. Dull, tedious and crammed full of list learning and little time for meaningful practical work. Like ex-teacher says in post #4, I got out and retired after teaching just a year of this ghastly, depressing course. There is not a single graduate from a British university who has the subject knowledge from their degree courses to be able to teach the wide range of content. No wonder recruitment to DT teaching courses is in such dire straits and that DT in schools is approaching collapse.
    donrickles likes this.
  6. Ex-teacher

    Ex-teacher Occasional commenter

    Good point about new teachers, Shedman.

    As an old, experienced teacher, seen as "stuck in my ways" by leadership, in my latter 10 years I taught myself to teach ks3 textiles, and so could have coped relatively easily with this at ks4. I also taught myself to teach food in ks3, as there as no-one else to do it. I didnt blow my own trumpet about it, just got on and did it, unseen and unappreciated by the young leadership team. I could do this reasonably easily as I was happy and comfortable in my ability in my "main" subject, and could teach this with "minimal" prep, having done it for years. No, I didnt enjoy teaching either textiles or food...

    If I'd been an inexperienced teacher, or nqt, trying to master teaching all areas of the new subject, I fear I'd have burnt myself out way sooner than I did.
    donrickles and Shedman like this.
  7. Geoff-o

    Geoff-o New commenter

    Welcome to the death throes of DT! I too have 'got out' especially as the new DT syllabus means only 10% of the marks at GCSE are for making things with your hands (or the tools, equipment and cadcam kit now sitting idly). Students love the making things part of the subject (not so much the designing) and yet they weren't asked what they wanted to be included in the subject. Good luck to my remaining colleagues trying to teach the irrelevant theory content (cooperatives have what exactly to do with DT- fume!). And well done you 'experts' and the QCA who wrote the re-vamp of the subject - you could not have got it more wrong if you had tried!
    Catgirl1964, donrickles and Shedman like this.
  8. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Yes the students did love the making and I particularly enjoyed the one to one interaction with the students as you showed them new skills and offered advice in the workshop. Some of the less academic really shone in a practical context but now DT has been reduced to being just another classroom based subject with much less workshop time and when SLT see the reduced use of the workshops they will start questioning the value of keeping them going and so DT disappears from yet more schools.
    Catgirl1964 and donrickles like this.
  9. donrickles

    donrickles New commenter

    I now teach supply across many secondary academies mostly teaching maths. However as an ex head of DT I always visit the dt departments.

    Sadly DT is an utter mess of generalised mush. No specialist teachers just generalist dt teachers struggling to do anything of quality. Lucky quality of work is not a measure of the quality of dt.

    The new GCSE is a disaster thanks data and Dixon’s Ctc for this nonsense. Most dept have taken Refuge in moving to teach art and design gcse. Other have embraced btec engineering with varying success.

    The 3 year courses are a disaster 22 naughty buys ******* around in a workshop for 3 years on a mainly theory course
    A nightmare for most teachers.

    Slt seem oblivious and uneducated in they ways of dt.

    So unless we have a real good rethink dt will be a poor also ran for numpties a very sad state of affairs

    See the latest ofsted report for hayford freeschool inadequate. Dt gets a mention.
    Shedman likes this.
  10. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Thanks for posting @donrickles. I retired two years ago after teaching just one year of the wretched course (3 year GCSE) but I could see the way it was going and you've confirmed the disaster for DT that I predicted it would be. I submitted similar views to the consultation on the proposed new courses but of course, my views were ignored.
  11. Bryson6

    Bryson6 New commenter

    I am now well used to new specification... . Aqa... And kids are doing well in it.. In my setting DT is one of most popular GCSE subjects and supported by the school.. I teach in a socially deprived area and the kids can manage the subject all right.. New spec allows departments not to pigeon hole themselves and they can still focus on specialist areas if they wish, through controlled assessments..
    Shedman likes this.
  12. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    I'm glad you're making a success of the course. I had taught DT in my speciality for over 20 years and was, perhaps a little set in my ways. I had little interest in the new content I was required to teach and because I was so unfamiliar with it I had little idea and fewer resources to get a worthwhile scheme of practical work under way.

    I am heartened that there are teachers like yourself who can work with the new courses and give the students a very positive experience of DT at GCSE level. I don't think I'm over egging things when I say that the future of DT in schools lies in your, and other like-minded DT teachers' hands so well done and keep the DT flag flying!
    Ex-teacher likes this.

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