The Government has been urged to end the use of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and to rebrand Design & Technology (D&T) in schools.

Two industry bodies say the changes are needed in order to boost vocational education take-up and to give more young people the skills and knowledge required to fill skills gaps in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

The call coincided with the publication of the report “Making Design & Technology manufacturers’ business”, issued jointly by the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK and Semta — the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance.

According to the report, the number of students taking D&T at GCSE fell by 62% between 2008 and 2018: down from 330,000 to 127,000.

Over the same period, the proportion of students taking D&T as a percentage of all subjects dropped from 5.9% to 2.3%.

Fewer girls taking D&T was the main reason for the fall, the report explains, with the number dropping from 149,000 in 2009 to 42,000 in 2018.

Instead of fuelling the future talent pipeline with new skills in new technologies, the introduction of the English Baccalaureate has had a negative effect on the numbers of students studying D&T in schools, according to Tim Thomas, Director of Employment and Skills Policy at Make UK.

“Given the pace of technological change, and the influence of design in all aspects of the rapidly changing world around us, the Government must re-think its strategy towards the teaching of these vital STEM-based subjects as a matter of urgency,” he argued.

Among a number of changes that Make UK and Semta would like to see introduced are the scrapping of the EBacc policy and for D&T to be renamed “Design, Technology & Engineering” (DTE) — a move that would, they suggest, reflect a modern, future-focused, curriculum and the growing importance of practical skills in the world of work.

The report can be found at www.makeuk.org.

Last reviewed 10 June 2019