A project I’m working on

Nov 16, 2016 · 3 min read

In 2001, the UK saw 435,000 students take GCSE Design & Technology. Over the last 15 years, that number has steadily declined to 185,000.* Nearly a 60% drop. *Data from the D&T Association.

In the last few years, ICT in schools has gone through a major makeover, becoming Computing. There’s been a shift in emphasis from using software, to creating software. Code Club and a plethora of other exciting tech initiatives have also chipped in and helped.

If you look at the National Curriculum for Design & Technology, it’s hardly moved on in the last 30 years. And looking at the numbers, the subject might be doomed. What is the industry doing to help?

This might seem obvious, but where is Design Club? Where are the initiatives that deliver a modern design education to our kids? I’ve found some examples, mostly happening in America, which I’ll share, but I believe we should do more.

How do we inspire, educate, and create the next generation of human-centred designers?

The plan

If this were a client project, I’d sketch out a plan. There’d be phases and deadlines, neatly mapped to a human-centred design process.

As I’m the client, I’m going easy on myself: gently immersing, ideating, and prototyping. Getting ready for some testing.

1. Immersing: to understand the market, discover opportunities, and spark inspiration

Practically, this means foraging for stuff. Collecting and analysing analogous inspiration, attempts at similar things, and existing human-centred design kits and processes.

It also means talking with people and experiencing things first-hand, such as attending this course: Becoming an excellent secondary D&T subject leader. This’ll help, but it’s a short cut. I’m considering teaching for real.

2. Ideating: to dream up possible solutions

The Code Club model works well for Code Club. Could a similar model work for design? Maybe. It’s too early to tell, exploration is needed.

I’m no expert, but I’m sure learning by doing is key. Beyond that, I have many questions.

What age group are we targeting? Is the solution a course, or bitesize modules? Is it delivered through a facilitator, or is it self-administered? Is it rigid, or adaptable? Is it standalone, or does it feed into existing things? Is it for the school, or for the home? Is it a game, a toy, or a kit?

In my experience, answers will not be binary.

Prototyping: Persona cards

3. Prototyping: to make ideas tangible, for testing

I’ve made some bits and pieces. Persona cards and challenge cards, things like that. They’re potential jumping off points. It’s early days.

What’s next?

Plough on, gradually. Share more work. Consider drafting a real plan!

Say hello if you’re involved in design education for kids.

Design Club

Design thinking workshops for children, from after school clubs to pop-up workshops. We’re a social enterprise and not-for-profit. Join us.


Written by


Co-founded @mintdigital. Service design @appsforgood. Creating @designclub http://www.designclub.org.uk.

Design Club

Design thinking workshops for children, from after school clubs to pop-up workshops. We’re a social enterprise and not-for-profit. Join us.

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