Design & Technology Education at Risk: Business Leaders Warn of Potential Disappearance from National Curriculum

Design & Technology Education at Risk: Business Leaders Warn of Potential Disappearance from National Curriculum

Business leaders are sounding the alarm over the potential disappearance of Design and Technology (D&T) from the national curriculum within the next four years. A report by the Design Council and Design & Technology Association, set to be released this week, reveals that about 20% of schools in England and Wales no longer teach the subject, as reported by The Guardian.

The report highlights a staggering 68% drop in students taking D&T at the GCSE level over the past decade. Once a compulsory GCSE subject until 2000, D&T has seen a significant decline in student and teacher numbers. In 2009, over 15,000 secondary teachers in England were trained to teach D&T. However, that figure has now fallen to just 6,300, with projections indicating it could dip below 4,500 in the coming years. Tony Ryan, CEO of the D&T Association, warns that more is needed to sustain the subject.

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Significant businesses have expressed their concern over the potential loss of D&T education. Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s executive vice-president and chief creative officer, credits his GCSE studies in D&T as fundamental to his growth and development as an artist and a human being. He emphasizes the importance of arts, design, and technology subjects in challenging students to think, problem-solve, and explore new ideas through their creative spirits.

Rowan Williams, creative lead at Panasonic Design London, highlights the pervasiveness of design in our daily lives, from the chairs we sit into the modes of transportation we use. Williams believes that letting the subject die out would be a sad outcome, reflecting a miscommunication of what design truly encompasses.

The report suggests that the schools most likely to drop D&T are those with students who need it the most. These socially deprived schools often need help attracting the right teachers, finding the subject more expensive to run than others, and desperate to achieve good results. As a result, they are more likely to remove D&T from their curriculum, further widening the educational gap.

The Design Council emphasizes the significant contribution of the design sector to the UK’s economy, generating more than £100bn annually to the country’s GDP. However, chartered engineer Yewande Akinola, who presents shows on Channel 4 and National Geographic, warns that the engineering and design sector is already facing a talent shortfall. She stresses the need to compensate for a potential shortfall of nearly 200,000 creatives and engineers in the coming years, especially in light of the UK’s net zero goals.

Tony Ryan from the D&T Association emphasizes that D&T is not just a practical subject, accounting for only 15% of the curriculum, while the remaining 85% involves creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. The report suggests that the curriculum should reflect how designers operate in the industry, providing students with briefs to respond to and real-world problems to solve. Yewande Akinola believes that the subject offers students the opportunity to develop progressive ideas to help the UK become a more innovative country and a global leader in providing solutions.

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In response to the concerns raised, a spokesperson for the Department for Education stated that the level of tax-free financial incentives for prospective D&T teachers has been increased from £20,000 to £25,000 for the academic year 2024-25. However, Tony Ryan points out that the complete removal of the bursary for the 2022/2023 academic year led to a devastating dip in recruitment, further exacerbating the current crisis.

The potential disappearance of Design and Technology from the national curriculum within the next four years is a matter of grave concern. The declining student and teacher numbers and the subject’s importance in fostering creativity, problem-solving skills, and innovation highlight the urgent need for action. The design sector’s significant contribution to the UK’s economy and the looming talent shortfall in the engineering and design industries underscore the importance of preserving and strengthening D&T education.

A collaborative effort between the government, educational institutions, and industry leaders is essential to address this issue. Reforming the curriculum to align with real-world industry practices, providing adequate support and resources for schools, and promoting the value of D&T education to students and parents are crucial steps in ensuring the subject’s survival and growth.

The consequences of losing D&T education extend far beyond the classroom. It could impact the UK’s ability to meet its net zero goals, hinder innovation, and diminish its position as a global leader in creative and engineering solutions. As business leaders and industry experts warn of the impending crisis, swift and decisive action is imperative to safeguard the future of Design and Technology education in the national curriculum.


  • Business leaders warn that Design and Technology (D&T) could disappear from the national curriculum within four years.
  • The number of students taking D&T at the GCSE level has fallen by 68% in the last decade, and the number of trained D&T teachers is rapidly declining.
  • About 20% of schools in England and Wales no longer teach D&T.
  • The design sector contributes over £100bn annually to the UK’s GDP, but a potential talent shortfall of nearly 200,000 creatives and engineers looms.
  • Curriculum reform and alignment with real-world industry practices are needed to preserve and strengthen D&T education.
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