Design and technology not a priority for schools

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Research released by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has found that nearly half of all teachers surveyed are not prioritising design and technology (D&T), despite the Government’s push towards STEM subjects.

The research reveals that only 8.6 per cent of schools surveyed said they prioritise D&T over other non-core subjects, although this is forecast to increase by an average of 10 per cent once the new GCSE is first taught in 2017.

While D&T was not regarded an immediate priority for a large proportion of the schools, more positive findings came from students’ interest in the subject, with 30 per cent of schools stating that has increased.

The rise in students’ interest in D&T may partly be due to a focus on practical learning; 68 per cent of schools said that using equipment and software, such as CAD/CAM and 3D printing, has a significant impact on their students’ motivation and engagement. Although on average more than half of lessons included practical activities (approximately 71 per cent of lessons), the majority of teachers expressed a desire to focus even more on the practical element of the subject, accepting that students often prefer to learn this way.

In terms of expenditure the view is polarised, with 49 per cent of schools stating that curriculum change is likely to increase their investment in resources to support the teaching of D&T leaving 51 per cent confirming that their expenditure will either stay the same or decrease; product design and resistant materials, electronics and food technology are forecast to benefit most.

Caroline Wright, BESA director, said; “This report shows that D&T is not a priority for the majority of schools at the moment, which is of course a concern considering the current skills divide in STEM industries; 40 per cent of companies looking for staff with STEM skills had difficulty recruiting last year.

"Clearly, the UK needs more creative and technically-minded individuals and getting more students interested in subjects such as D&T is essential for achieving this. However there is good news on the horizon, as a large number of schools are hoping to increase their focus on  D&T resources by 2017."

School Leadership Today
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