Spielman: Ofsted has not helped to reverse D&T decline

Chief inspector admits Ofsted hasn't helped stem decrease in numbers sitting D&T at GCSE, as the V&A launch a new programme to rescue the subject

Catherine Lough


The Ofsted chief inspector has acknowledged her organisation has not done enough to champion creative subjects like design and technology. 

Amanda Spielman made the admission as the Victoria & Albert Museum launched a campaign to reverse the decline in the number of pupils studying D&T.

Speaking at the launch of the new programme, V&A Innovate, Ms Spielman said the number of children studying the subject at GCSE was in “long-term decline.”

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She said D&T had faced a “perfect storm” over the last 20 years, having been dropped as a compulsory subject in 2000 and facing competition from BTEC qualifications in 2004.

And she acknowledged that the introduction of the English Baccalaureate and Progress 8 had “done nothing to stem the drift.”

Ms Spielman said the EBacc’s focus on a “limited set of core academic subjects” may have dampened take-up of D&T, and that Ofsted “haven’t done as much as we should have done to help.”

GCSE entries for D&T fell by 22 per cent between 2018 and 2019, from 117,605 entries in 2018 to 90,805 this year.

The new V&A programme aims to promote D&T skills to key stage 3 pupils, and includes an online resource hub for teachers, as well as toolkits, video guides and activities for pupils.

Teachers can sign up their schools to the V&A national schools challenge, opening in September 2019, which encourages pupils to submit design projects based on a range of issues – such as sustainable food, eco-friendly clothing and mobility – with the best projects featured in an awards day hosted at the V&A in 2020.

Only state schools are eligible to enter, and 60 schools have signed up to the programme so far.

The V&A’s director, Tristram Hunt, said the programme aimed to promote “the kind of design skills young people need in the future” to inspire the next generation of designers and entrepreneurs.

Mr Hunt said there was a “crisis” in the uptake of DT, and that at “the moment where we should be promoting creativity in our schools, we’re stripping it out.”

He said the fourth industrial revolution and the growth of artificial intelligence presented serious challenges for the future.

Museums needed to “step in” to try and fix the crisis, as they had a historic duty to educate alongside schools, he said.

Dr Helen Charman, director of learning at the V&A, said the programme aimed to showcase what a “broad and rich curriculum looks like” to foster the creative and critical thinking skills for the 21st century.

“We need to create a design studio ethos in every classroom,” she said.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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