D&T teachers ‘rummage in skips’ for materials, MPs told

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It is not unusual for design and technology teachers to “rummage through skips” for teaching materials because of school budget constraints, a subject expert told MPs today.

Speaking to the Commons Education Select Committee this morning, Ryan Ball, director of education at the Design and Technology Association, also warned that the rise in non-specialists teaching of the subject is creating “health and safety issues” and doing a “huge injustice” to students.

The committee heard from experts this morning in subjects where there are teacher shortages as part of an ongoing inquiry into recruitment and retention challenges.

Mr Ball said: “With things like budgets, it’s not uncommon for teachers to rummage through skips to find pallets…materials for the students to use in their work. It’s simply not good enough.”

A shortage of technician support can also mean teachers spending their weekends preparing materials for the coming week, Mr Ball said.

Last year, design and technology was among the subjects hit with the worst shortfalls in recruitment of trainee teachers against the government target, with just a quarter of the trainees required recruited.

And this year, by the end of August, just 571 of the 2,110 trainees estimated to be needed by the Department for Education had been placed on courses.

Mr Ball also said that “part of the problem” with design and technology was the “legacy view” of the subject, and added that the association had put forward proposals for a name change to update the subject.

“At the moment, the morale of design and technology as a subject is probably at an all time low”, which is impacting retention, Mr Ball said.

MPs were also told today that headteachers are facing barriers to introducing flexible working for teachers.

Deborah Weston, research officer at the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, told MPs that “schools are very inflexible places”.

She said that the “pressures on headteachers are so significant in terms of accountability…that there’s a nervousness about taking people on part time”.

Ms Weston also argued for an increase in the provision of part-time training to become a teacher, arguing that this could boost recruitment and retention.

In June of this year, Tes revealed that a third of teacher training providers say potential teaching applicants tell them that working flexibly is important, but that it is not freely available in schools.

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