Industry criticises Design Council teaching scheme

A Design Council initiative to encourage design graduates to teach the subject rather than practice it has been branded impractical and “fundamentally flawed” by industry professionals.

Launched last week by the Design Council and Government initiative Education Action Zones, the scheme plans to introduce work placements in schools as part of design degree courses, in the hope that “design students will be inspired to go into teaching”, says Design Council education development manager Kate Williamson.

The rising number of schoolchildren studying design and technology GCSEs is disproportionate to the number of qualified design teachers, which has fallen by 40 per cent since 1998, according to the Design Council.

The pilot launched last week at London University’s Goldsmiths College and Greenwich University. London Guildhall University joins the pilot scheme next month. If successful, the Design Council will approach colleges such as the Royal College of Art and Central St Martins College of Art and Design.

Williamson denies it has been set up to discourage students from entering the industry. She says it is designed to forge links between designers and schools. “There are many unemployed graduates and a shortage of teachers. We are encouraging them to consider teaching as a creative option,” she says.

British Design & Art Direction president and The Partners creative partner David Stuart says teachers should experience “the slings and arrows of the design profession” to become good teachers. “The scheme is fundamentally flawed in asking graduates to promote the benefits of design to schoolchildren when they haven’t experienced the industry first hand,” he says.

Middlesex University visual communications design senior lecturer Lilian Lindblom says there would be no room for school work-placements in crowded design syllabuses.

She says her students study design to become professionals, not teachers. “Design is a highly vocational subject. If students are interested in teaching, it is usually at a higher level at university.”

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