A call to action for every D&T teacher

Published 26th May 2023

A call to action for every teacher

Come and attend one of our consultation meetings in June and July across the country and have your say. Tell us what you think of our vision

For almost two years, we have been working to address some of the sizeable issues concerning our subject and have listened to teachers and key stakeholders to draw up a way forward. We can learn from history, but we cannot change it; we need to set a vision for what design and technology can and should be in the future if it is to inform and inspire future generations of young people.

The main issues facing our subject are:

Number one: Teacher recruitment has failed to meet even the lowest targets over the last 10-15 years, and this has incrementally resulted in a drop from 14,900 D&T trained specialist teachers in 2009 to under 6,500 today. The implications of this catastrophic workforce reduction can be seen in almost every school across the country as headteachers are forced into making curriculum decisions based on staffing availability and skillsets and not on what is best for their students.

Realistically it will take years to address this shortage, but we need to agree and fund a clear set of actions that will begin to address this now.

Number two: The number of GCSE entries has dropped from 430k in 2003 (when it was a compulsory GCSE subject) to 78k in 2022, falling around 7% year on year. The revised GCSE specifications introduced in 2015 are too heavy in content, and understandably, teachers under pressure to produce results and find a qualification their students can readily engage in have turned to 3D art & design as an alternative qualification within which D&T can be delivered.

We need to move towards a revised set of GCSE qualifications that allows highly trained subject specialists to return to D&T as their chosen qualification.  

Number three: Headteachers and their governing bodies determine their curriculum by considering many factors. Undoubtedly one of those factors is how they are externally measured. Progress 8 has forced all creative subjects, including design and technology, to become marginalised and deemed less important on the curriculum. This has resulted in squeezed curriculum time, and in the worst cases, D&T being dropped altogether.

The only action that will change this is for Progress 8 to be reformed or dropped entirely, allowing headteachers and governing bodies to once again set a curriculum designed for the good of their students and not fixated on how the school might be externally measured.   

We are working hard on your behalf to lobby for change where it is required and will continue to do so, but as a community, we also have to unite and create the changes required to make us world leaders once again. We must set the vision for where the subject can go and how it can develop instead of waiting for other bodies to impose an externally determined vision upon us.

This is where we urgently need your engagement.

We have a vision to share with you based on last year's countrywide consultations and work carried out since this time. But we need your input and feedback. As your professional Association, we want to accurately represent your thoughts, values, and aspirations for the subject that we love as we bring a vision to the next government, whatever colour that government might be. We want to bring a set of calculated solutions, not a set of problems, and we aim to unite the community and key stakeholders behind a common solution for the future of the subject.   

We need to be able to say, THIS is the direction the subject needs to take, THIS is the investment required, and these are the returns. We are collaborating with organisations big and small in order to make this happen.

Our subject now stands at a critical crossroads. We need to reform. We need calculated change. We need a clear direction of where we are going. Get this right now, and we can once again lead the world in design and technological education, get this wrong, and we will slip off the curriculum in the majority of schools and be consigned to history.

The subject requires clear and decisive leadership more than ever before. Our sole objective is to ensure that the subject not only survives in school but once again thrives nationally! Students who want to can study it and go on and work in the many sectors out there and enjoy the plethora of inspiring career opportunities that studying D&T offers.

High-quality D&T education creates young thinkers and problem solvers, technically minded and able young people aware of the world's problems and capable of providing well thought through solutions.

Get in a room with us and add your voice to the collective message brought to the government on your behalf. The time is now; we need you there.

14th June              Make UK, Birmingham

15th June              Manchester MET University

29th June              Liverpool John Moore University

30th June              Tanfield School, Newcastle upon Tyne

3rd July                 Hethersett Academy, Norfolk

5th July                 V&A Museum, London

10th July               Brighton University

12th July              Future Skills Centre, Exeter College

Other meetings are still being arranged; watch our website and social media for detail.


Original document from the Education Policy Institute reported alarming figures regarding design and technology’s decline. The Association's research resulted in a published report "Re-imagining Design and Technology" which highlighted what steps needed to be taken to support the growth and preservation of the subject.

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