Design Skills Academy
British design is amongst the best in the world, but what are we doing to invest in its future?
Now is the time for the design industry to roll up its sleeves, to help nurture new talent, and to ensure the industry gets the skills it needs. That’s why we’ve set up the new Design Skills Academy and we’d love you to be a part of it.
The Design Skills Academy is our way of bringing industry and education closer together. It’s led by Creative & Cultural Skills, Design Council, Design Business Association (DBA)>/a> and British Design Innovation (BDI), with support from Include Design, Design Museum, The Sorrell Foundation, D&AD, Design Wales, Pearlfisher and Form.



Include Design, Bacc for the Future and ISM, respond to GCSE announcement

This is a response to the Government announcement that they will introduce a ‘new eight-subject measure of GCSEs, including English and maths, three subjects out of sciences, languages, history and geography and three other subjects, such as art, music or RE’ and the announcement that the English Baccalaureate Certificates are being dropped in favour of reformed, rigorous GCSEs. The detail of the announcement will be scrutinised over the coming days and weeks.

Joe Macleod, Global Design Director at ustwo and coordinator of #IncludeDesign campaign said:

‘This is fantastic news for the whole of the design industry and creative economy. That Michael Gove is now listening to the 100 creative industry and education leaders who handed in a letter to Number 10 last week raising their serious concerns is a great step forwards. As an industry this gives us an opportunity to work with education leaders and the government to help support the shared vision of a world-class syllabus that offers students a fully rounded education.

‘Without these changes to the EBacc, we would have lost the designers, architects and creatives of the future, as their talents would have been constricted by schools being pushed to prioritise an unnecessarily narrow range of subjects that reflected the past and not the future. The creative industries are worth more than £60 billion a year to the UK economy and it would have been a catastrophe if creative subjects such as design & technology had been lost from schools at Key Stage 4. Now we need to see the same breadth included at A Level too.’

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the ISM and coordinator of the Bacc for the Future campaign said:

‘We welcome this announcement; this is good news for children and good news for education. We must learn from the last six months of consultation and ensure we work together to create high quality and rigorous GCSEs and A Levels with appropriate assessment fit for the 21st Century. Creative subjects such as art, music and design and technology need to stay at the heart of education so that we can develop talented youngsters to feed our creative industries and generate growth.

‘The voices of the creative industries and education sectors have been listened to, and we welcome this. We will now be looking closely at the new proposed National Curriculum for music and work with the Government to ensure that we have a National Curriculum, GCSEs and A-levels fit for the future.’

Peter Nutkins, Headmaster of Humphrey Perkins School, Loughborough, and a member of the Heads for the Arts group, said:

‘We welcome the announcement today by Mr Gove that creative subjects are to be included in his new eight subject measure of GCSEs. Creativity is the heart and soul of a school and deserves to have its rightful place in any curriculum that seeks to challenge and inspire a generation. Having responded to the outcry from the select committee, education and industry sectors over the exclusion of subjects such as music and art as well as the pace of change, we now look for a clear way forward to ensure the highest standards across the curriculum delivered over a sensible timescale.’

Mixed signals in Tech City

Tech City is the ‘brand’ name given by the government to the creative technology community in and around Shoreditch in east London. There are more than 3000 creative tech firms in this area of London employing over 50,000 people.

The government’s aim is to encourage continued investment throughout this area of London – to appeal not only to small and agile startups but the bigger tech companies like Google. The ultimate ambition is to create a tech hub for Europe that rivals the likes of Silicon Valley.

The EBacc qualification will exclude creative subjects and computer science from the education system – many of which make up key foundations to a successful career within a creative technology company. The omission of these subjects will have a direct impact on future talent becoming part of such a vibrant and successful industry.

The start-up companies in Tech City have had major success on the back of blending design and development skills together to make new and innovative products. Both skill-sets play a crucial role in taking ideas from their infancy in early sketches, through to rapid prototyping and development, to finally marketing and launching a product.

Quotes from Tech City

“The TechCity initiative is, on the whole, a sound proposal, however, it’s easy to forget that it is entirely London-centric. It is not and should not be a replacement for a forward thinking tech-focused syllabus.

At the moment, there is a lack of understanding between design and computer science courses in higher education, and a complete misrepresentation of both disciplines at secondary and primary school. We need to stop treating these two areas as discrete skills and integrate them, as is being done in industry.

The British government must make every effort to ensure that this country is at the forefront of the new industrial revolution as it was in the last one.”Alasdair Monk, Lead designer, GoCardless

“Creative excellence in design for digital media is one of the most successful and sought-after things about Britain. All of us at Fjord believe the government should ensure that new generations of students can continue to keep it that way.” Olof Schybergson, CEO, Fjord

“Being ready for the future. Most of the jobs we do every day at BERG hadn’t been invented when I was at school. Teaching design, making, and inventive thought at young ages will prepare kids for the jobs we can’t imagine now. With a bit of luck they’ll invent them.”Matt Jones, Principle at BERG

“For those of us working in Shoreditch we’ve appreciated and supported the government’s Tech City initiative. Any attention, support and investment in this area is a good thing. However, recently we feel Michael Gove’s proposed EBacc has undermined this positive initiative by demonstrating a lack of real understanding when it comes to the needs of companies like ours.”Joe Macleod, Global Design Director at ustwo™

“The stark message is that the digital industries in Tech City and across the UK will be compromised on the global stage if we cut off the source of talent through a subject selection process that isn’t influenced by a student’s creative and design ability. There is great digital talent in schools and real interest to pursue a rewarding career in our industry. We are very concerned this will be undermined by the current Ebacc policy.”Andrew Henning, Head of Education at BIMA

“We are fully behind the Government for supporting Tech City. The uniquely British combination of creative and coding talent in East London means that the next billion pound businesses could be born here, with the right support. But if the new EBacc qualification excludes creative subjects and computer science, it will seriously damage our ability to do that in the future – leaving volunteer organisations like Code Club to pick up the slack.”Jason Goodman, Founder and CEO, Albion

“It’s easy to find a shining example at the intersection of great design and computer science – Apple – the most valuable company in the world. Creativity and computer science are Britain’s currency to remain relevant and valued on the world stage.”Ben Wolstenholme, CEO Moving Brands, (Shoreditch and Silicon Valley)

“In a creative and digital economy the future success of the TechCity initiative relies on talented and inspired individuals collaborating to compete on the world stage to disrupt old business models with creativity and innovation. Academic rigour within our schools systems is vital to ensure a foundation from which our young people can innovate and be creative however we must recognise that the majority of nations are working towards the goal of high academic standards measured by standardised tests. The result is that we can not compete alone on these standards, it is our creative application of academic disciplines such as maths, science and technology that provides competitive advantage thus access to and integration of creative disciplines within the school curriculum and our children’s lives will be an important aspect of national well-being, economic growth and indeed, the TechCity program.”Graham Brown-Martin, Founder, Learning Without Frontiers

Further Links

Perhaps as importantly (and these things are important), the building will create a landmark symbol of ‘Tech City’ (the official name for the cluster), to help focus attention on the quarter and thereby boost investment from the likes of Google, Microsoft and other established companies, who are increasingly turning to the area to find talent.

We can only hope it provides the fillip needed to turn London into a world centre of tech creativity, which might one day rival our banking and financial services sectors

Education Select Committee response

“The Education Select Committee have voiced concerns about the timetable for change, saying changing “too much, too fast” could threaten exam quality.”

Education Select Committee publication
Concerns raised about GCSEs to EBCs: the Government’s proposals for reform

Consultation closed

The consultation closed on 10 December 2012. Here is the report.

Press release: Education Select Committee report

#Includedesign and Bacc for the Future campaigns endorses Education Select Committee’s serious concerns on Key Stage 4 reform

The Cross-Party Education Select Committee, Chaired by respected Conservative MP Graham Stuart, has joined the #IncludeDesign and Bacc for the Future campaigns in calling for ‘a red light’ on GCSE reform to avoid serious damage to the education of our children.

The Bacc for the Future and Include Design campaigns are supported by tens of thousands of people and hundreds of organisations from across the creative industries and education sector. Together they are campaigning for creative subjects to remain at the heart of education, building on the Olympics and Paralympics legacy.

The Education Select Committee stated that the ‘case for the abolition of key GCSEs is still unproven’ and that the Government is ‘trying to do too much, too fast’.

The report also found that ‘there is a lack of overall coherence in the Government’s approach to reform of the curriculum, qualifications and school accountability system’.

Deborah Annetts, Chief of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and coordinator of the Bacc for the Future campaign, responded to the report saying

‘Few people doubt the need for Key Stage 4 reform, but the Education Select Committee has raised concerns about the pace and nature of the proposed changes to the examination system. These concerns mirror those voiced by the Bacc for the Future campaign and the many education experts who have raised significant doubts about the structure, content and basis of these proposals.

‘We ask the Government to listen carefully to the findings of this respected Committee.

‘We endorse the Select Committee’s doubt over the possibility to ‘upgrade’ some subjects without implicitly ‘downgrading’ others. The unintended consequence of these reforms could be the creation of a divisive two-tier education system. We must have one qualification with subject-appropriate and rigorous modes of assessment.

‘In particular we would draw attention to our industry and higher education colleagues in the Bacc for the Futurecampaign who have joined calls urging the Government to include creative subjects and revise its Key Stage 4 proposals. Given the economic significance of the creative economy this should be a no-brainer; we must not lose the creative legacy of the Olympics and Paralympics.’

The Committee noted the ‘vigorous opposition to the Government’s proposals from prominent figures in the arts community’ adding that ‘concerns have been expressed about the implications for religious studies, sports and technical subjects, such as design and technology.’

Joe Macleod, from the #IncludeDesign campaign said:

‘Design and the creative industries are hugely important to the UK economy and the exclusion of design and other creative subjects from EBacc threatens the pipeline of home grown creative talent that will be needed for their future success. The Education Select Committee’s report forcefully highlights this, showing how the Government’s proposed reforms risk down-grading creative subjects in school and ignoring their essential importance to business innovation. It’s vital the Government now takes a step back and re-considers these reforms to insure they do not cause irreparable damage to children and the economy. Even the CBI has criticised the absence of creative subjects.’

Press about the campaign















Further reading

Arts already being Squeezed out by Ebacc

What the CBi says about importance of Creative skills
"Companies expect a more detailed knowledge of IT and benefit from people with broader creative skills, so the Government must adapt the curriculum to meet these needs." Susan Anderson, CBI Director for Education & Skills

Design Council's activities

The Government's white paper on education
The Importance of Teaching

Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group
Restarting Britain: Design Education and Growth

Creative Industries Council Skillset Skills Group

The Cultural Learning Alliance

Design and Technology Association
The English Baccalaureate Certificate and what it means for D&T

Press release of first letter to Gove

6th December 2012

The design industry announced today that it had sent an open letter to Michael Gove, warning him that his intention to omit design related subjects from the English Baccalaureate would impact on Britain’s future prosperity.

Stella McCartney, Sir Jonathan Ive, Olympic Torch designers Edward Barber RDI and Jay Osgerby RDI, Sir Terence Conran, the Design Council, D&AD and many of the UK’s leading design agencies argue that omitting Design & Technology and Art & Design from the English Baccalaureate will damage the future prosperity of the UK’s industry and the wider creative economy. Today sees the launch of the ‘Include Design’ campaign, part of the 'Bacc for the Future' campaign, and signatories believe that the omission will fail to provide students with the skills that UK employers need- which they argue will have a catastrophic impact on the UK’s economy.

Education secretary Michael Gove has recently revealed a proposal to replace the GCSE exam with an English Baccalaureate. The proposal initially intends to focus studies towards three core subject areas – English, Maths and Science - with History, Geography and languages added at a later stage. Not all subjects will be included- with art and design, for example, left out.

Signatories of the ‘Include Design’ campaign urge Michael Gove to reconsider the EBacc in it’s proposed form, arguing that the UK creative industries are the envy of the world and set the bar in excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship. The UK’s design industry is the largest in Europe and one of the strongest globally – NESTA estimates £23bn is spent on design, while Imperial College put the figure at £33.5bn in 2011[1]. Design Council research demonstrates that despite the recession the industry grew by 29 per cent[2] between 2005 and 2010.

‘Include Design’ urges Michael Gove to rethink the Government’s proposal to exclude design and the arts, and to add a sixth pillar option for these subjects into the EBacc.

Jay Osgerby RDI- one of the design pair that designed the Olympic Torch- commented:

“Our Creativity is at the forefront of our new economy and also part of our national identity. We are very creative islanders and our design education has for decades fuelled that creativity, helping Britain to be regarded as the creative hub of the world. It’s hugely disappointing to see design being relegated to the periphery of our National Curriculum. If we do not support and invest in design education now we risk a brain-drain of our best talent in the near future. We should be upping our game, not demoting design to the side lines.”

Sir Terence Conran commented on the proposal to exclude design related subjects from the EBacc:

"The creative industries in the UK are the envy of the world and make a significant difference to the quality of our lives and to the economy. The Government's proposal to strip it from their Baccalaureate makes no sense and sends out completely the wrong message. The strength of the UK creative industries is no accident, it lies in the quality of the education our young receive which is why I founded the Design Museum over twenty years ago and why we are moving to bigger premises in the Commonwealth Institute. We should be encouraging creativity and innovation in our young, not stifling it. I am depressed enough that as a country we make so few things, imagine if we no longer designed them as well?"

Wayne Hemingway, Trustee of the Design Council, commented:

“Britain isn’t a leading design nation by accident. It has happened because in the past we have invested in design education. It’s vital that we continue to inspire and equip young people to create and execute their ideas, and nurture the next generation. Design is the only National Curriculum subject that provides a focus on the practical as well as the theoretical - supporting innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Downgrading this subject by not including it in the English Baccalaureate would have a negative impact both for our children and for the economy.”

[1] Design services, design rights and design life lengths in the UK - An independent report commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office

[2] Design Industry Research 2010 – a comprehensive survey of the UK design industry conducted by the Design Council

Open letter to Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education

Dear Secretary of State,

We write to you on behalf of the UK Design industry.

We believe that the omission of subjects such as Design & Technology and Art & Design from the English Baccalaureate will damage the future prosperity of our industry and the wider creative economy. It will fail to provide students with the skills that UK employers need, and its impact on the UK’s economy will be catastrophic.

The UK creative industries are the envy of the world- We set the bar in excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship. The development of an English Baccalaureate affords the Government an opportunity to enhance one of the strongest areas of our economy. It is an opportunity to create a generation that will stand the best chance of improving our global competitiveness and contribute to our future economic growth. In its proposed form however, we believe the English Baccalaureate will starve our world-leading creative sector of its future pioneers.

Collectively, we champion good design which shapes society and improves the way people live. The UK’s design industry is the largest in Europe and one of the strongest globally – NESTA estimates £23bn is spent on design, while Imperial College put the figure at £33.5bn in 2011. Design Council research demonstrates that despite the recession, the industry grew by 29 per cent between 2005 and 2010. Design is the lynchpin that connects our creative industries together and is fundamental to a broad range of disciplines from advertising to architecture, from furniture to fashion.

The innovation that fuels UK growth relies on knowledge, the skilled use of materials and the command of ideas. Design and the Arts are vital components of an accessible and varied education system that can provide these skills.

The prospect of future generations growing up to consider these subjects as less important is simply incomprehensible. We therefore urge you to rethink the Government’s proposal to exclude Design and the Arts from the English Baccalaureate, and to add a sixth pillar option for these subjects into the EBacc.

Sir Jonathan Ive, Stella McCartney, Edward Barber RDI, Jay Osgerby RDI, Sir Terence Conran, Design Council, D&AD, British Interactive Media Association, IDEO, Interbrand, Seymour Powell, Landor, Hemingway Design, Sapient, Mother, ustwo, Landor, Wieden + Kennedy , WolffOlins , Fjord , Fitch , Method, Albion, All of Us, BERG, The Brand Union, Critical Mass, DBA (Design Business Association), The Design and Technology Association, Design Museum, Engine, Joseph Joseph, LBi, LiveWork, Made by Many, Moving Brands, Native, OneDotZero, Poke, Think, Wunderman, Zolmo, Computer Arts, Design Week, Digital Arts, Contagious Magazine, Its Nice That, Vice, Hyper Island , University of Reading, Goldsmiths, University of London, University of the Arts London, Aqueduct, Toaster, Codegent, The New Black, Nation, Mylo Design, Somewhat, Analog Folk, Glug, Anthony Dickens, Numiko, Black+Blum, Kin, Figtree, SomeOne, Viadynamics, Design Laboratory, Mosley&, Hedgehog Lab, Not Tom, Dalton Maag, Typo, Deadgood , MayNinth, Digital Doughnut, WeAreExperience, Weapon7 , Mark Thomson Design, 383 Project, Monokoto, CDD, Northern Digitals, BLAB, Graphical House, Signal-Noise, Bibliotheque, Design Studio, 1977 Design, Mat Dolphin, Cog Design, Multiadaptor, Mobext, Flamingo Magazine, Creative Mediani, Ubiquitous, Planning Unit, Irving & Co., Felt, Create Forty Eight, Blue Leaf, Kemistry, 999 Design, Alienation Digital, Bethan Gray, Brokenantler, Canonical, Cream Design, Cyber Duck, Designintuition, Digital White, Emperor Design, Farnbeyond, Flat 33, Glad, Hometown, Huw David design, Hyper Kit, Karoshi, KK Outlet, Lambie Nairn, Leopold, No Sugar Studio, Not Just Design, Obsessionistas, Philosophy Design, Piratalondon, Plot, Red front, Redberry Digital, Rocket, Rosie Lees, Sociates, Stereo Creative, Vincent and Bell, Visceral Business, WDC, We Are Human, Wickedweb, Design Jam, Playgroup, Spov, Sidekick Studios, Insider Trends, The Loft, Great Fridays, Alive Agency, Campbell Rowley.
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