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Teachers back modernising design and technology curriculum

Leading digital media learning company Pearson, has today announced plans to drive forward a new, future-focused design and technology (D&T) curriculum that inspires children and young people to become the creative problem solvers of the future. 

Calls for change come as new research, released today, amongst 2,200+ secondary school teachers and leaders shows that around half believe modernising the subject will benefit the curriculum. The same number also support both the move to design and technology addressing global challenges like climate change and equipping learners with the skills needed in a future workforce. Strengthening the role of the subject is also backed by two thirds of art and design teachers specifically.

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The new design education curriculum, which utilises the expertise of cross-sector organisations, including digital insights from Microsoft and Google, would support a natural transition from its current focus – the creation of existing consumer ‘products’ that too often end up in landfill – to a more sustainable approach in which learners are challenged to design solutions for citizens that address key global issues. This could be through the physical prototyping of products and spaces, but also through the digital design of services, experiences, infographics, apps, websites, marketing campaigns, laws, policies, social movements, and more.

Sharon Hague, Senior Vice President of UK Schools at Pearson, said: “Design and Technology has provided decades of valuable skills to young people, however, in the face of continued national decline in take up of the subject alongside rising costs associated with the current workshop infrastructure and a shrinking teacher workforce, it is no surprise that many people are supporting change.

“Together with leading organisations and educators, and driven by growing feedback from learners, we have started to outline our collective vision for a future-proofed and relevant design education curriculum that all students will be able to identify with. Our aim is to strengthen the subject’s position in schools, equip learners of today with the skills to solve tomorrow’s real-world problems and support the career aspirations of all learners, while hopefully giving much-needed security to the brilliant design teachers who will be at the centre of this reinvigorated subject.” 

Chloe Haggerty, Head of Digital and Creative Arts at a secondary school in Essex, said: “A new D&T curriculum is needed – it is time for the subject to evolve. Many students see the limitations of D&T in its current form and switch to Art, Craft and Design. This new design education curriculum proposed by Pearson would give students more opportunity to explore and design things with autonomy.  In a world where digital software and solutions are key to future life and learners are acutely aware of the real problems facing the world, it is vital that the subject takes the necessary steps forward.”

Headteacher, Karen Gracie-Langrick, continued: “Never has there been a greater need for, and within, education for children to be engaged in a holistic curriculum which develops analytical concepts and enquiry skills alongside the additional dimension of human endeavour. This innovative curriculum has been designed with a higher purpose in mind – enabling pupils to gain the 21st century skills, agency and agile mindsets required for them to succeed in tomorrow’s more equitable and sustainable workplaces.”

Supporting both the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development goals and the Department for Education’s vision for the UK to be “the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030”, the proposed plans lay the foundations for a 5-19 curriculum that has at its heart themes such as sustainability, circular economy, design thinking, systems thinking, collaboration creativity and innovation. The proposed plans for a reinvigorated design curriculum bring a new focus on design that will augment art, craft and design pathways, widening learner choice and progression routes.

Minnie Moll, CEO of the Design Council, said: “We need to re-design nearly every aspect of how we live our lives to tackle the climate emergency and so the Design Council welcomes a curriculum that equips young people to design for the planet. Studying design at school is a crucial talent pipeline – our research shows that seven in ten of today’s 1.97 million people working in design studied it at GCSE level. The decade-long decline in students studying the subject presents a major and urgent risk to the sector’s future. We must inspire the next generation of designers if the UK is to become a thriving green economy.”

Sharon Hague at Pearson continued: “Design education has the power to create a better world. In our inaugural School report, climate change and sustainability was one of the top five themes that teachers want to see included in the national curriculum with as much time and emphasis as core subjects. At the same time almost half of headteachers plan to teach climate change and sustainability in their school by 2024. Design education is perfectly placed to lead this integration, with the learners of today central to the development of systems and solutions that can influence society’s future for good.”

Over the next few months, Pearson will be collaborating with educators, learners, organisations, industry leaders and policymakers as they work together to create a #newdesigncurriculum that is fit for the future.

To find out how you can get involved, visit http://go.pearson.com/thefutureofdesign

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