From education to employment

Design & Technology Association collaborates with innovative businesses to rejuvenate endangered curriculum subject

teacher in tech class with student

From FemTech to Toys – Design & Technology Association collaborates with innovative businesses to rejuvenate endangered curriculum subject 

  • Launching on National Manufacturing Day, D&T’s latest initiative, ‘Inspired by Industry’ provides innovative learning opportunities for students 
  • Elvie, Scalextric and Mindful Chef are among the brands providing resources to schools and encouraging pupils to respond to real creative briefs 

London, 28th September 2023 – In a bid to rejuvenate the field of design and technology education and provide creative learning opportunities for students, the Design & Technology Association (D&TA), a leading professional body dedicated to high-quality design and technology learning in schools, is collaborating with businesses to launch its new initiative: ‘Inspired by Industry’. Launched on National Manufacturing Day, the new project offers a comprehensive set of free learning materials specifically designed for KS3 (Aged 11-14) D&T educators and students, aiming to breathe new life into the subject. The materials show how businesses use ‘design thinking’ to ideate new products, which, in turn, can give students the opportunity to respond to a real brief within industries and real workplaces.  

The move comes after the success of its recently launched ‘Vision Paper’ in July, which highlights the urgent need for revitalising design and technology in the education system, and calls for decisive action to address the decline of this key curriculum subject. The subject is estimated to be a matter of years away from curriculum extinction, and with that said, it is vital that businesses take significant action in showcasing the significance and relevance of the subject. 

In collaboration with leading companies and businesses spanning the creative, engineering and manufacturing sectors, including Mamas & Papas, Thrive Wearables, Yoto, PTC, Elvie, Scalextric,Mindful Chef, Salsus and Dinosuit. D&TA has been working to develop contexts and materials inspired by real-world industry practices, all designed for D&T classroom use. 

The objectives of the ‘Inspired by Industry’ resources are to get pupils to work together and respond to  real-life design briefs. These new resources support school teachers and leaders by: 

  • Supporting the KS3 Curriculum: By encouraging students to tackle real-world issues during KS3, the initiative seeks to inspire and engage them whilst laying the groundwork for future success in non-examined assessments at KS4 and beyond, using methodologies employed by industry professionals. 
  • Free, High-Quality Resources: ‘Inspired by Industry’ offers free access to all schools, providing enriching contexts and videos. Association members gain exclusive access to additional materials, further enhancing the learning experience. 
  • Fostering Interest in D&T Sectors: Each context is presented by industry professionals who explain their problem-solving approaches, offering students a comprehensive glimpse into their work. This firsthand insight is designed to inspire students and spark their interest in design, manufacturing, engineering, and related fields.
  • Bringing Industry and Education: The initiative emphasises teaching relevant and practical content. Learning from industry practices can help shape the future of D&T education by equipping students with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in industry 

Tony Ryan, CEO of the Design & Technology Association, was a former school principal and teacher in IT and design & technology. Ryan was once an academic underperformer, perceived school as pointless, often got into trouble and was finally excluded. An apprenticeship as a car mechanic helped him understand the relevance of education and catalysed his aspirations of becoming a teacher by going back to further education and obtaining both B.Ed and Masters degrees.

Ryan commented:

The ‘Inspired by Industry’ initiative is just the beginning of our goal to introduce new resources across a range of relevant business sectors and get pupils working together to not only respond to real-life design briefs but to form new skills and apply them to the real world. The subject is highly interdisciplinary, something we’re aiming to demonstrate with this programme by collaborating with such a diverse range of brands and designers.” 

Sarah Liddell, Chief Product Officer (CPO) of Elvie:

“Growing up, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career. One of the reasons for this was a lack of opportunity to understand what was involved with different roles. Our mission at Elvie is to create products that empower women, enabling them to make choices about how they live their lives. We are fearless innovators who break product development conventions and taboos every day – creating products for under-served women’s health needs that have been long-neglected. By supporting D&T in the national curriculum, we hope to inspire the next generation of innovators, preparing all young people for the D&T or STEM careers of their choice in the future.”

The initial nine companies for ‘Inspired by Industry’ D&T is collaborating with: 

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