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Model for stronger design industry

DESIGN EDUCATION in schools needs "significant" attention to make the curriculum more relevant, to ensure teachers get better training and support, and to increase links with industry, says the Design Skills Advisory Panel.

Its UK design industry skills development plan, High-level Skills for Higher Value, calls for a scheme that gives all schools contact with working designers, who can help teachers keep up to date with design practice.

Teachers should also be given more support through a network of regional design "hub" schools, which could stage workshops, masterclasses and summer schools for them.

A "design mark" to show a school or department's excellence in the field could also be launched to encourage good practice.

The plan says: "The programme of designers working with schools will be available to every school in the country and will enable DT teachers to stay in touch with current practice through collaborative projects with industry and with colleges and universities. This programme will build on successful initiatives which provide valuable knowledge of what works well."

The panel, supported by the Design Council and Creative and Cultural Skills, consulted 4,000 designers over two years to review design skills development in schools, colleges and universities and outline how to bring design teaching up to date.

It is now calling for help to develop and deliver its plan from organisations, including the Sorrell Foundation, which already does extensive work to promote creativity and design in schools, Creative Partnerships, the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and the Design and Technology Association.

Richard Green, the chief executive of the association, said: "There is growing evidence that shows when pupils work with adults, such as designers and engineers from outside of school, their work improves. We would support a scheme that broadened existing work to bring designers into school, and increased the use of designers in residence."

He also welcomed plans for increased training for teachers, who currently receive just two days a year of subject-specific professional development, and noted the association has already piloted a quality mark for design and technology in primary schools.

* ukdesignskills.com

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