Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the Sutton Trust research showing that socio-economic barriers remain in engineering following the downgrading of Design and Technology qualifications.
“Design & Technology is an excellent subject which opens doors for young people from all backgrounds in a number of engineering careers as well as other high skills jobs.
“Sadly, the government downgraded the importance of this subject by excluding it from the so-called English Baccalaureate suite of traditional academic GCSE subjects it wants young people to study. The English Baccalaureate subjects are embedded in the performance tables on which schools are judged, and in a double-whammy, schools have also had to cut their budgets over the past decade because of government underfunding.
“While schools endeavour to offer Design & Technology, these twin pressures have inevitably driven it to the fringes of the curriculum, along with creative subjects. This makes no sense at all for a government which wants to introduce a skills revolution in education.
“It would surely be logical for the government to end this artificial divide between subjects and support Design & Technology in pre-16 education in order to lay the groundwork for such a revolution, ensure that all young people are able to pursue subjects which interest them, and meet the needs of British industry in training the engineers of the future.”