The future of Design Technology….Your chance to have a say.

National Roast Dinner day when Y10 pupils prepared, cooked and served a delicious roast dinner to forty staff and governors.

Anyone who knows me or has been following these posts will know that I am an advocate of design technology as a vital part of the curriculum for an 21st century education system.  I have argued that this is not simply a protectionist position but that the subject offers learning opportunities that make it’s contribution unique.  Of course anyone could contrive equally good opportunities in other subjects but them they would have to invent design technology in a different guise.   If you have not already done so now would be a good time to have a look at an earlier post: WHY DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY SHOULD BE AT THE HEART OF ANY CURRICULUM.  I would like to think that this makes my position clear.

Much more importantly I would like to think that my argument justifies a permanent and central place in the curriculum for design technology but as you will all know this is far from the position at the moment in schools across the England. Our government has at a stroke set criteria that have had the effect of cutting design technology across the country.  When challenged the express belief is that they are freeing schools to make their own curriculum choices and align them to the area in which they live, the reality is that schools have had to react in such a way that we are in danger of losing the subject in many schools.  More to the point we are close to depriving children of the valuable contribution that design technology can make to their education in the broadest sense, to their ability to handle themselves efficiently in a knowledge based society and to their employability and future life chances.

I know that many of you reading this will share the basic premis of this post so can I ask you to take a few moments to do something about it?  The Design and Technology Association is now one of the few bodies that are still active and have a voice as far as the future of the curriculum goes.  They are active in lobbying the government and they need support.  For anyone interested in the subject their home page would be well worth a look but just for now please follow this link and check out http://www.believeindandt.org.uk/  This is our chance to make a difference and to influence government policy.  Many of you who work with children will be able to share anecdotes about pupils who have gone on from studying design technology in all its forms in school to fulfilling and worthwhile careers using what they have gained from the way the subject is taught.  Sometimes as teachers we are fortunate enough to discover that we really have made a difference to a particular person, that is one of the great joys of the job.

At another level as we struggle to adapt to the changing economic climate our government is committed to growth through designing and making, the chancellor set out the intentions of his budget with the phrase, “designed in Britain, created in Britain, made in Britain.”  Somehow we need to find ways of getting across what seems to be obvious; that the way to foster the skills and desire of our young people to engage with this kind of economic activity will be developed through design technology.  It is difficult to imagine that this connection needs to be made explicit but apparently it really does.  If you share my concerns then it is probable that you will already have signed up to the DATA petition and in this internet age that is a great help.  On the other hand the parliamentary select committee that reviewed the changes in education policy made great play of the fact that they had had a large number of letters from one subject community but noted that they all followed a standard format.  It would be a great idea for you to write to your MP and share your concerns.   You probably will not get a very satisfactory reply in the first instance but every letter counts.

Join the campaign, sign the petition, make a nuisance of yourself.  We cannot afford to let this go, the damage will take scant few months to happen and many years to redress.

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