The decline of DT at GCSE level
By Rhian Davies 28-02-2017
Last week was a stressful week for 16-year-olds up and down the country. GCSE-results were released and not only was there a sharp decline in students receiving a A*-C grade, but statistics show there has been a 10% decrease in the number of students taking Design & Technology at GCSE.
The GCSE problem
The figures released by JCQ show one of the most significant drops in the subject’s history at GCSE. With a UK wide decrease of 9.5% from 204,788 in 32015 to 185,279 this year. This decline in taking up D&T into GCSE is startling
This decline follows a growing trend of decline since 2004, as UK-wide uptake has decreased from 440,000 in 2004 to less than 190,000 this year.
Design and Technology Association chief executive Richard Green, says: “This decline started with the removal of the requirement for all pupils to study D&T GCSE in 2004 and has continued, particularly over the last four years, as the Government has prioritised traditional, English Baccalaureate (Ebacc), subjects over creative, artistic and technical subjects.” The Ebacc qualification, first introduced in 2010, becomes compulsory in the next academic year for all students. This means the decline of D&T chosen as a full GCSE is likely to continue on its downward trend.
The Good the Bad and the Ebacc
The Ebacc qualification has come under scrutiny by politicians and creative leaders accusing it of being prejudice against the creative art subjects. English, Maths, the Sciences, a language and a humanity subject are currently compulsory for GCSE students, but many feel that D&T should be included in this list.
A petition called “Include expressive arts subjects in the EBacc” was started in retaliation to the ruling and was signed by more than 100,000 people, stating that “the exclusion of art, music, drama and other expressive subjects is limiting, short-sighted and cruel”. They point out that the EBacc disadvantages children from disadvantaged backgrounds who would be otherwise be limited in their exposure to art and culture.
You can also draw a direct link to students that take GCSE D&T and people who go on to study it at University. 85% of design graduates took the subject at GCSE, prompting Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, to said: “Although it is possible to take up jobs in our sector without exam results in creative subjects, it is much harder and potentially more expensive to do so, which obviously further diminishes the chance for young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds.”
The news isn’t the best for the design industry and with the continuation of the Ebacc, the decline of the D&T seems likely to continue. If this then has the added implication of less people taking it to degree level, the design industry will surely lose out in the long run…