Why we need a curriculum review………….

Art Deco inspired design by Joel West

On the face of it the announcement that the government were about to undertake another curriculum review was probably greeted with groans in every staff room in the land.  For anyone who doesn’t know the last full scale review was back in the dark ages, well implementation in 2008, to be accurate.  Now from a design education perspective there were some very significant elements to this review,  to quote from the QCDA website,

“The curriculum’s aim is to enable all young people to become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens who:

  • achieve high standards and make better progress in subjects and sector-related learning
  • have and be able to use high-quality personal, learning and thinking skills
  • have, and be able to use, high-quality functional skills
  • become more engaged, motivated and committed to their learning
  • engage more effectively and deeply with learning to the age of 19 and beyond.”

(http://www.qcda.gov.uk/curriculum/secondary/552.aspx should you feel like checking.)

Some very careful thought went into the review and there were some landmark results.  Cross curricular dimensions focused teaching and learning on what we as a society wanted for our children in broad terms as they took their adult place in our world, personal learning and thinking skills, universally known as PLTS, recognised the need for children to become active learners, responsible for and able to take part in creating their own futures.  There was even a focus on the social and emotional aspects of learning which was a response to the incredible advances in our understanding of how the learning brain works within a living and breathing human being.

Now all this is sounding really encouraging from a professional point of view, it seems as if we might be preparing our children for their future rather than our past.  Design Technology as it is taught in our schools had a major contribution to make.  No other subject was positioned to contribute so widely to the experiences of our children; everyday we teach and expect our pupils to be independent enquirers, to think and engage with the world creatively, to be reflective learners and to respond to that reflection, to be team workers, self managers and effective participants.  In short we teach our children how to engage with and shape a technologically advanced future, in other words, their future.

Ah,  but that was before the perceived need to “refocus” on academic subjects, to reinforce the significance of factual knowledge and, (I hesitate to use the phrase in this context), re-engineer the curriculum.  The artificial distinction between academic and by default, non-academic subjects to one side until another post, what happened to the vision enshrined in the revised curriculum? If you haven’t watched the video, “Shift Happens” in one form or another check it out on Youtube, you will be one step ahead of the government.

So why do I suggest that we need a curriculum review?  Well, simple really.  The decision to measure school success by the “English Baccalaureate” has at one stroke transformed the curriculum in English schools without the benefit of any review.  Design Technology is now not only an optional subject it is competing  with many other vitally important ones.  Schools are falling into line behind the “EB” and skewing their option systems to meet this artificial target.  It is my hope that a review process may temper this and reveal the  “EB” as not fit for purpose.  If it can achieve that then it will get my vote.

Hey, it’s our pupils who are getting messed around with here.  If you are concerned about the future of education or just concerned about the future of Design Technology then check out this link:


You will find a link, “Call for evidence”.  Follow it and make your thinking known.  Share it with your friends and get the message out there.


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