Spotlight on Design and Technology | Pearson qualifications

Pearson reaction to the Spotlight on Design and Technology Study in England

5 April 2022

At Pearson we have taken time to review the EPI paper “A Spotlight on Design and Technology study in England”, and recognise some of the fundamental challenges facing design education in the UK. 

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Since the reform of the qualification, there have been several challenges:

  • the training and recruitment of D&T teachers, 
  • the provision of CPD to support teachers in adapting to the new qualification content, 
  • the move away from traditional material areas including the impact this change had for Food Technology, 
  • the impact that increased interest in Engineering as a curriculum pathway.
  • schools becoming academies and multi-academy trusts, new and free schools, and a divide between state and private sector funding for design and technology education. 

On top of these challenges, the pandemic has significantly shifted thinking about education, thanks in part to the outstanding work and resilience of teachers to adapt throughout the changing landscape of schools dealing with Covid-19. As we leave this period of disruption cautiously, curriculum offers feel ever more prominent in the minds of all stakeholders.

We would like to know more about the reasons behind the national decline in Design and Technology and add context to our understanding of how Pearson could prepare for future reform.

Regional differences

There are the regional differences in entries in the report, which could relate to many factors: the availability of teachers for recruitment, changes in funding, regional industries, demography changes, funded and unfunded support, centres and teachers able to deliver a course offer that achieves the many needs of all stakeholders in schools, and the UK wide review of curriculum offers under tightening budgets.

We would like to know more about what has caused regional differences to appear, and how these can be tackled in meaningful ways in future reforms to improve uptake of D&T as an important subject.

Engineering and progression pathways to HE

Whilst the growing popularity of Engineering is obvious, the challenges remain for both funding, ongoing CPD to support its teaching, and the long-term pathways for progression for all learners. The inclusion of mathematics content in Design and Technology general qualifications was at the time a significant addition, which Engineering will also acutely need to be able to deliver.

Furthermore, Higher Education pathways to study Design and Engineering related degrees have not significantly changed since the reform of D&T qualifications, and the value of Mathematics and the Sciences remains central for applicants to HE, with D&T a nice to have rather than a requirement.

We would like to know more about centres offering Engineering, and understand the main reasons it is considered an alternative to D&T. We would also like to know more about HE progression and why D&T is not considered as an entry requirement.

Teachers delivering D&T

The most important aspect of our work at Pearson is to focus on our centres and put you and your needs at the heart of our efforts. Part of the report that we would like to understand more is what factors are leading to the decline in entries.

We would like to know what decisions are being made, and by whom, and under what conditions, where D&T both remains on the curriculum and where it is removed. We would also like to know what pain points are being experienced by those that ultimately decide to move away from D&T, and what Pearson as an organisation could do to resolve these. We would lastly like to know what the future looks like for D&T provision across new/free schools, multi-academy trusts and schools that have historically held D&T as an important part of their curriculum.

Our research programme into Design education will aim to identify answers to these questions and establish the broader needs for the subject long term.


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