Editorial – the design education battle still needs to be fought

The coalition Government made a rare step in the right direction in its approach to design and design education this week.


In its response to the Henley Review of Cultural Education, the Department for Education announced that it is to fund the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Club initiative.

Set up in 2009, the Saturday Clubs give young people aged 14-16 the opportunity to study art and design at a local college or university and are inspired by similar schemes that John and Frances Sorrell attended as teenagers.

Sir John Sorrell says the cash boost will help the Sorrell Foundation’s ambition to extend the scheme to up to 2000 pupils over the next three years.

Laudable stuff from Education Secretary Michael Gove, but one notable absence in the Government’s response was any comment on Design and Technology’s place on the National Curriculum.

The Art and Design Club summer show
The Art and Design Club summer show

D&T’s statutory place in schools is under threat as the Government reviews the National Curriculum and for the last year or so, the Design and Technology Association and others have been campaigning to raise its profile.

While the D&T Assocation tell me they welcome the Henley Review – ‘we obviously support anything that promotes creative subjects’, they say the Government is still not revealing anything on D&T’s curricular future.

They will continue, they say, to lobby Government – including through its new cultural education partnership group.

Big names from the design world including James Dyson, Seymour Powell and Paul Smith are already on board with the campaign. Let’s hope they succeed.

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Richard Chapman November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    My agency and I laid out the Design Commission’s report ‘Restarting Britain’ last December, which makes a vigorous argument for design education, implicitly linking it with economic growth. I’ve seen a lot of articles lately about design education as a political hot topic and can only hope that it’s following on from this report and the other great voices making the kind of points discussed above.
    For the record, the Design Commission’s report is here:

  • Aine Duffy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The crucial argument in the Henley Report is for D&T, along with other creative subjects including art and music, to be included as a 6th subject for students taking the EBacc – the so-called ‘cultural education’ option. The EBacc is not compulsory, but it is being adopted by increasing numbers of schools; indeed, a survey by NSEAD earlier this year found that 50% of art and design teachers reported a reduction in students taking art and design at Key Stage 4. 10 years down the line, will anyone be studying art or design at graduate level? Not if there is no option to study the subjects at GCSE level. See Bob and Roberts Smith’s open letter to Michael Gove MP – http://bobandrobertasmith.zxq.net/

  • Tristram Shepard November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Like many others I welcome the recommendations of the Henley Report. But make no mistake about the nature of the Government’s response – my post abut it is here: http://tristramshepard.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/getting-high-on-classic-fm/

  • Post a comment

Latest articles