What impact is Government policy having on tomorrow’s designers?

A broad survey of design teachers suggests that art and design subjects are being neglected by Government policy, which is leading to reduced opportunities for pupils and could be causing teachers to leave the profession.


A major survey has found that Government education policy is directly damaging the prospects of the next generation of designers and could severely dent the economy.

The National Society for Education in Art and Design says that in the last five years government policies have impacted not only on the value of art and design but also caused less time and resources to be dedicated to children and young people participating in art, design and craft subjects.

Reduced opportunities

This means that there are reduced opportunities to engage in a broad curriculum and according to NSEAD this could “jeopardies and limit the UK as a creative and competitive force in a global market.”

The National Society for Education in Art and Design surveyed more than 3000 heads of art design and 1400 teachers of art and design as well as general secondary teachers, general primary teachers and senior school leaders.

The sample of people who responded captured 1191 teachers, lecturers and coordinators of art, craft and design. Of these 67% of primary respondents were art and design co-ordinators, while 33% were generalist teachers.

One third say art and design neglected

The respondents revealed that curriculum time and provision for art and design is being significantly reduced across all five key stages.

Around one third of those surveyed say that the time allocated for art and design has decreased in the last five years.

One teacher says: “There has been a narrowing of the range of media that students will work with particularly impacting upon 3D teaching, textiles and other applied arts disciplines.”

Less choice

NSEAD president Ged Gast says that pupils are being given less choice around art and design and that parents might not always be aware of this.

He says: “Many parents believe that the curriculum is an entitlement and that their children will have a choice. This survey report comes at such a crucial time for art craft and design education.

“With findings that indicate a context of increasing misunderstanding and less regard for art craft and design education, the arts and technology.”

Teachers are leaving

Meanwhile it seems that primary and secondary teachers have little or no access to high-level subject specific professional development in art and design.

Recruitment and retention of art and design teachers is also being questioned and there is anecdotal evidence that many teachers are leaving or wanting to leave the profession.

As many as 56% of those surveyed say that art and design being neglected is causing teachers to leave.

What can be done?

In response to the survey NSEAD has made several recommendations. It wants schools to look at time allocation for the teaching and learning of art and design within the curriculum “adjusting the mechanisms and barriers that deplete time resulting in damage to standards in art and design” – particularly in primary schools.

It wants parents to have more of a voice by lobbying through parent teacher associations and as parent governors, in order to get schools to find time, resources and facilities to develop art and design on the curriculum with teachers and support staff.

The Department for Education should, according to NSEAD, “decline from stating or inferring that higher education and career opportunities will be limited by examination study in art and design, thus misrepresenting the subject to parents and young people.”

You can access the full report here.

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