The distinctiveness of Art & Design and D&T – ensuring schools provide for high-quality provision in both

Since the introduction of a slimmed down art and design national curriculum in 2014, NSEAD has provided resources to help our members make explicit the requirements of a broad and balanced art, craft and design curriculum. Our much used parallel curriculum and assessment and progression materials (hyperlink here) are two examples. However, the consequences of government policies in education, to include funding cuts and school performance measures, have resulted in some members indicating that their schools have attempted to merge, art & design with D&T. In 2016 at The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design in Education, we first reported on the implications of such mergers.

In May 2019, Ofqual reported that GCSE candidate numbers for art and design had increased by 3% (hyperlink here). In June 2018, the DfE reported that there had been another fall in art and design key stage 4 hours taught – between 2011 and 2017 the decrease had been as much as 21.1%. The numbers do not add up.

With these discrepancies in full view and guided by reports from members in schools, we are concerned that the apparent rise in GCSE Art and Design masks the true picture of how and where it is being taught. Furthermore Ofqual indicates there has been a 28% decrease in D&T GCSE candidates this year. Whether it is within D&T departments by art and design trained teachers or by D&T trained teachers, there is a real risk that students are being offered a curriculum lacking breadth and depth.

In this briefing paper and presentation for NSEAD members, Ged Gast, former president of NSEAD, has set out the distinctiveness of art and design; misconceptions about similarities with D&T, and why some schools might seek to merge art & design and D&T departments. The paper also examines the potential implications, impact and outcomes on learning and curriculum provision that result from such mergers.

The paper will help subject leaders and senior management teams to better understand that art and design and D&T are complementary subjects, and that they are not an alternative to each other – the study of one does not replace the other.

The paper also helpfully examines the ‘design’ in art, craft & design and proposes ways to ensure your art and design department team will understand the value of both subjects and how to make explicit the subject differences.

Notably, NSEAD members in Scotland have not reported such mergers. The uniqueness of art and design and expressive arts, sit explicitly away from the study of product and technology and engineering based subjects.

What next? The Society is currently evidencing these changes and welcomes any comments or examples from teachers of art and design who may have experienced changes to their art and design and D&T curriculum or examination offer. This may be reflected in changes to staffing, timetable, curriculum and/or examination endorsements offered. Please email your comments to Sophie Leach. We also welcome any feedback from members in response to this paper. Your comments and expertise will inform and help us to evidence an NSEAD members’ webinar on the distinctiveness of Art and Design and D&T and the benefits of planning and providing for both.

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18 Jun 2019