My subject is dying and no one seems to care. Scarier still, the death seems to have coincided with my teaching career. This year, the total number of children in the UK sitting a design and technology GCSE fell for the 10th year in a row, to 213,629. In 2001, my NQT year, that figure stood at 436,963.
Whether as cause or effect, the number of new entrants signing up to train as Damp;T teachers has suffered a similar decline. Thus, in 2009-10, 1,394 people entered Damp;T initial teacher training; in 2013-14, only 410 did so. More alarmingly still, the 2014 figure is just 48 per cent of the government's target of 870.
This is no temporary blip - it is the decimation of an entire generation of one subject's teachers.
If one looks at the jobs pages of TES - always a good litmus test - the number of Damp;T jobs is pathetically small. It is not because the competition is stiff; it is because no one wants Damp;T teachers any more.
Of course, there are crocodile tears. I frequently hear sad stories of why a particular school has given up Damp;T: can't find the teachers; can't get the grades; too expensive.
They often accompany their excuses by saying that they would love to be teaching it still as they have many students who would benefit from Damp;T's particular brand of practical, hands-on learning. But the fact remains that, in spite of a new and supportive national curriculum, a great many schools are opting out of teaching any form of designing and making.
A thought occurs to me. All schools have history departments. Indeed, the demise of Damp;T is almost mirrored by the growth in history (in 2013-14, history recruited 143 per cent of its required ITT number). So let's rename Damp;T "the future department", because when all is said and done that is what Damp;T deals in. And senior leadership teams might like that. That would keep me awake at night, although with excitement rather than dread.
David Baker is a director of Design Education CIC and a teacher of Damp;T at Latymer Upper School, London
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