Carrying the torch - can student teachers contribute to the survival of design and technology in the primary curriculum?

Not since the statutory introduction of design and technology as a foundation subject at Key Stages 1 and 2 in the National Curriculum for England and Wales in 1990 has there been more pressure on its survival in primary schools than at present. The ‘deregulation’ of the non-core curriculum to make way for the introduction of National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies has, according to Rogers and Davies (1999), had a devastating effect upon the classroom time it is currently allotted in many schools. The situation is, if anything, more acute in primary initial teacher training (ITT), where the impact of a series of government circulars, culminating in Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) Circular 4/98, has reduced total course provision in design and technology for the majority of students to a few hours. Although some hope may be on the horizon – in the shape of the new rationale for the subject in the Secretary of State’s proposals for Curriculum 2000, and the positive exemplification provided by the national Scheme of Work (QCA/DATA, 1999) – the situation is currently very difficult for primary student teachers required to teach design and technology during their school experience. Unless these opportunities are made available, a generation of primary student teachers may emerge from training with little or no experience of classroom or college design and technology, thus risking undoing much of the good work in teacher development undertaken during the last decade. It may then be too late to undo the damage done to the concept of a ‘balanced curriculum’ in which design and technology has a significant part to play.