Design and technology curriculum 'out of step' with needs of modern economy - CBI

Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:49
Posted by Scott Buckler

The CBI has responded to the Government's proposed reform of the National Curriculum in England for five to 16-year olds

Neil Carberry, the CBI Director of Employment and Skills, said:

"Employers want a much more coherent education system through secondary school and sixth form, which gives young people the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need for the world of work.  The new national curriculum must reflect this by articulating a route to 18 in key subjects, like maths.

"Businesses want an ambitious, highly rigorous curriculum in terms of what we aim for, but one which doesn't over-prescribe specifics better left to teachers. While many of the proposals the Government makes are valuable – especially on rigour – we don't think the overall approach passes this test."

On design and technology

Mr Carberry said:

"The proposed design and technology curriculum is out of step with the needs of a modern economy. It lacks academic and technical rigour, as well as clear links to the realities of the workplace.

"The proposals focus on basic craft skills at the expense of high quality learning, which risks reinforcing existing prejudices about applied subjects being second-rate.

"We need to pull every lever to generate future economic growth and equip a workforce to compete with our global competitors. Horticulture and food preparation have their place but it is skills for manufacturing that will help us rebalance the UK economy."

On maths

Mr Carberry said:

"England has some of the poorest post-16 maths participation rates in the developed world so the focus on functional numeracy and making maths study more demanding is right. Our curriculum has lagged behind the leading education systems for too long.

"We back the Government's ambition for the vast majority to carry on studying maths up to 18 but it needs to send out a powerful signal by extending the maths National Curriculum beyond GCSE-level.

"It is vital that everyone carries on studying at the level most appropriate to them – either to prepare them for more in-depth study or give them the basic skills they need for work."

On science

Mr Carberry said:

"We're concerned that the sheer scale of prescription risks hindering teachers' creativity, flexibility and innovation in the classroom.

"Business demand for science, maths and technology skills has long outstripped supply. It risks squeezing out space for practical, hands-on experiments, which are vital to help children develop an interest in science from the start of school."


The CBI published a major report on reforming the education system in November 2012 - First Steps - A New Approach For Our Schools.

Among the recommendations, it called for:

- Strengthened A-Levels to be used alongside new gold standard vocational A-levels as the summative point of the education system at 18;

- Individual learning plans to 18 designed to deliver a high-quality education for every child;

- A move away from GCSEs to new assessments aimed at supporting student decision-making about subject choices and career paths. These could be undertaken at 14 or 16, including a mix of exams and regular assessment.

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