Re-Building D&T

May 2017

Our subject is in the doldrums. The KS3 Programme of Study introduced in 2013, coupled with the new GCSE, offers the possibility of modernisation but the challenges to the subject are much more deep-rooted.

In Decdsp-collageember 2016 David and Torben, working with Nick Givens, published the first version of Re-Building D&TIn it we identified four core challenges:

  • A lack of agreed epistemology
  • Confusion about purpose
  • Uncertainty about the nature of good practice
  • Erroneous stakeholder perceptions

We argued that these have contributed over several decades to the current situation in which less than 30% of young people now study the subject to 16+. 

We asked the question “What can be done to restore design & technology to the grand intentions of the 1989 Parkes Report that heralded its introduction into the National Curriculum?”, and we explored these four challenges and how they might be tackled.

Since then we have consulted widely within the D&T community on the ideas in Re-Building D&T and have been very encouraged by the many thoughtful responses

We have taken many of these responses into account in developing a second version of Re-building D&T. This has led us to rewriting the original eight sections and introducing a completely new section, Re-building – necessary but not sufficient, plus an appendix expanding on the notion of Big Ideas for D&T, also available as a separate Working Paper.

This revised Re-Building D&T Working Paper contains 13 recommendations for the Design & Technology community to consider, that we believe have the potential to re-build the subject.

There is an emphasis in these recommendations on the leadership role of the D&T Association, but we want to be very clear that we are not suggesting in any way that the Association can undertake the role of re-building design & technology alone. In particular, we are aware that our recommendations all carry implied costs, in some cases relatively modest and in others significant. These costs are beyond the current budget of the Association. It is important that the whole D&T community works with the Association to help the realisation of these recommendations with both practical and financial support.

All members of the community of practice along with those who support the subject of design & technology and those in positions of influence over the subject need to understand the key roles of Epistemology, Clarity of purpose, Good practice and Informed stakeholders in rebuilding design & technology as a key part of the school curriculum. All need to work with and in support of the Association in this endeavour.

We hope this paper will stimulate discussion and we look forward to your comments.


Re-building D&T v2






Re-building D&T v2; printer friendly [this version has the large colour blocks removed]

Online version of Re-building D&T

About Re-building D&T



Sound epistemology

Clarity of purpose

Good practice

Informed stakeholder perception

Re-building – necessary but not sufficient



Big Ideas for D&T