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Design guru grooms Conrans of the future

A CAREER in design has made James Dyson, Jasper Conran and Stella McCartney household names.

But too many teachers are still unsure what design and technology lessons involve, according to an Office for Standards in Education report published this year.

For design graduate Tara Cator, a Year 3 teacher at Berrywood primary school, Southampton, it is not just another subject. Her designs of pewter candlesticks have been sold in Liberty's, the London store, and a pair are owned by the Prince of Wales.

Tara, 32, whose parents are both secondary heads, said: "Maths, English and science are core subjects which children need, but foundation subjects such as art and design give them other experiences and they are enthused by them.

"Primary teaching appealed to me because I did not want to teach one subject all the time. I wanted variety."

Teachers at the school echo the findings of the TES poll which suggests teachers feel design should have more space in the curriculum.

Clare Brown, Berrywood's design and technology co-ordinator, said: "It involves completely different skills from, say, writing a story and is accessible for all children. It is not difficult to teach, just different."

She acknowledges the "excellent" training she has had from Hampshire education authority and produces "handy hints" sheets for Berrywood's teachers.

With more than 660 pupils, Berrywood is the largest primary in the county. Head Noelle Wickens admits its size does help, her budget enables her to give all subject co-ordinators a half-day of planning each fortnight. She said: "People need the time to plan, in order to do a good job.

"If art, design and technology were cut out of primary teaching, I would not want to be a teacher. Without these subjects children would lose important skills and the pure pleasure of making, doing and trying things."

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