Headlines: June 25th, 2008

Expensive design and technology equipment is lying unused in some schools because of a lack of specialist teachers. A report today from Ofsted says that while design and technology is the most popular GCSE foundation subject there needs to be a national development plan to drive improvements.

The report, ‘Education for a technologically advanced nation: Design and Technology in schools 2004/7’, says most pupils enjoy designing and making things but older students do not always get to machinery and computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing equipment that is already in schools. This is because some teachers, including newly qualified members of staff, do not have the training to use the equipment for teaching.

Provision of suitable resources for the subject is also too variable according to Ofsted. It says CAD/CAM equipment is not equally available in secondary schools and the gap between schools that have up-to-date resources and those that do not getting wider.

The report does find that there has been an
improvement in pupils’ achievements in both primary and secondary schools, although at least two thirds of primaries and a third of the secondary schools have still not realised the potential of design and technology to help all learners become confident and capable members of a technologically advanced society.

Girls consistently perform better than boys at secondary level. Miriam Rosen, Ofsted’s Director of Education said design and technology had to be an essential part of every pupil’s learning experience.

“More needs to be done to ensure that all schools are equally well equipped with the facilities, equipment and specialist teachers required to keep pace with the advancements in our ever changing, hi-tech world,” she added.

The report says there is room for improvement because the subject lacks strategic, long-term planning and support and it recommends the creation of a national
development plan to coordinate the necessary improvements to develop design and technology.