Has Design & Technology GCSE had it’s day?

Design & Technology GCSE

No! It just needs dragging into the 21st century.

Everything you use on a daily basis has had a team of people researching, designing and engineering it. From the clothes you’re wearing, the car you’re driving, to the packaging your sandwiches come in. Design & Technology is all around us.

D&T became an optional subject in 2000 and since then the number of teenagers taking it at GCSE has dropped, with another 10% reduction in take up since last year.

It’s fair to say that D&T has a bit of an image problem. It’s seen by some as a soft subject and since the Government has prioritised traditional, English Baccalaureate (Ebacc), subjects over creative, artistic and technical subjects it seems to have been massively devalued.

Maybe it’s outdated label is deserved, as, in some schools, students are still making things that their parents made, like cushions covers and bird boxes! It hasn’t evolved into a modern subject.
A reformed “single title” GCSE is coming in September 2017 that will cover the broad range of materials rather than splitting into the current individual subject areas. Will that just mean that subjects are consequently watered down or will it give students a wider range of interests?

Some of the changes

  1. More comprehensive briefs that give students a context for what they are designing, therefore encouraging more creativity.
  2. Students should be using new and emerging technologies, such as 3D printing and robotics.
  3. D&T departments will need to ensure students have access to the material and processes most suited to the project, not just the medium they have most experience with.

As well as a modern curriculum, more qualified D&T teachers are needed. Unfortunately, due to it being an expensive subject, it is an easy target for school budget cuts, meaning that career prospects are uncertain.

Currently, Design & Technology at GCSE is split into several individual subject areas, each a separate GCSE.
These are:

  • Resistant Materials
  • Electronic Products
  • Graphics
  • Systems & Control
  • Textiles Technology
  • Food Technology
  • Product Design

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