Skip to main content

Design and Technology Curriculum

Volume 561: debated on Monday 22 April 2013

10. When he will announce the structure and content of the design and technology curriculum; and if he will make a statement. (152083)

Following the national curriculum consultation period, which closed on 16 April, we are considering the responses received. We have been engaging with leading figures in industry, such as Dick Olver and Sir James Dyson, schools and academia to ensure that we have world-class design and technology education. We are also committed to providing a curriculum that ensures children receive high-quality cookery teaching and understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the thoughtful and intelligent way she has engaged with the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Design and Technology Association, and with Dick Olver, Sir James Dyson and others, in considering the new design and technology curriculum. May I encourage her to bring forward a curriculum for the 21st century that inspires young people, particularly girls, to understand the role of science, technology and engineering in solving the real problems of the modern world, environmental, social and economic?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for his excellent contribution to the Westminster Hall debate we had on this subject. I would also like to thank him for his views on the maths, science and computing curriculum. We are now working on ensuring that design and technology is more closely integrated with those curricula and that there is an inspiring technological education that crosses many different industry types and gives schools flexibility to teach design and technology in the best way for the next generation.

The Opposition believe in academic excellence, but we also believe in a syllabus that reflects the demands of the 21st century. Does the Minister share my concern about comments from the CBI last week, which damned the new design and technology curriculum as

“out of step with the needs of a modern economy.”

It stated that the curriculum

“lacks academic and technical rigour”


“risks reinforcing existing prejudices about applied subjects being second-rate.”

When will we have a proper focus from the Government on a rigorous and relevant curriculum?

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his new position on the Front Bench. It is sad that we did not get to hear his views on the history curriculum earlier in the debate, but we will no doubt hear them at a later stage.

The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point about the future of British manufacturing and engineering. We are working with leading figures in the industry to make sure that we have a world-leading curriculum that is in line with what we have in computing, physics and mathematics. I would also point to the technical baccalaureate that we are introducing, which will, for the first time in this country, provide a rigorous, high-quality technical education that is truly aspirational and will encourage many more young people to study subjects such as engineering.

On a recent visit to the Corsham school, I saw the “making room”, which is staffed by a professional artist and is available to all curriculum areas. Ofsted says that it takes activity begun in the classroom and turns it into imaginative work, which extends learning. Does the Minister agree that making things reinforces lessons right across the curriculum?

I absolutely agree that it is very important that the practical and the academic line up to create a truly rigorous curriculum. We are also looking at the role of practicals in science to make sure that people get proper experience when they study chemistry and physics, as well as in the design and technology curriculum.