Design Education: A Vision for the Future

Design Education: A Vision for the Future

Why This Book?

For now …

Edited by Ken Baynes and Eddie Norman, this short book is intended as an angry, but measured response to the Government’s new National Curriculum proposals for Design and Technology and Art and Design in England. However its scope is much wider than national or ‘subject’ boundaries, as it is written from the standpoint of Design Education.

The new curriculum proposals are frankly astonishing. They are a tired re-hash of old-fashioned approaches and ideas. How such a document came to be written is hard to understand but the result is not recognizable either as current good practice, or as the views of any of the organizations who might have been consulted for informed and authoritative proposals.

There is little to be gained by Loughborough Design Press joining in the chorus of criticism that will certainly be directed at this folly. We support the criticism of course, but also believe the time has come to put forward a more relevant vision of the future. Consequently:

  • Christopher Frayling has written a Foreword analysing the recent history that has led to the current position
  • The Editors – Ken Baynes and Eddie Norman – have put forward their recommendations in the form of a letter
  • Phil Roberts has described the characteristics of design education and provided a means to review and develop design curricular provision and practice in general education
  • Eddie Norman has provided an overview of the research foundations for design education that have been constructed by colleagues over the last decades

This section is available as a free download by clicking on the button below:

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You can see Ken Baynes discussing design education curriculum in the video below:

For the future …

We believe that at a point in the not too distant future, even politicians will recognize the vital importance of design education. We have decided, therefore, to publish this specially commissioned and rapidly produced book. It is structured round the 2010 John Eggleston Memorial Lecture given by Ken Baynes at the Design and Technology Association Education and International Research Conference at Keele University. The lecture was entitled ‘Models of Change: The future of design education’. The lecture proposed seven key themes around which a future vision of design education could be framed and we have invited leading academics in the design education field to develop the discussion further:

  • The aims of design education … Phil Roberts
  • The significance of practical education … Eddie Norman & Ken Baynes
  • Encouraging the imagination … Stephanie Atkinson
  • The cognitive value of aesthetic awareness … Krysia Brochocka & Ken Baynes
  • The value of learning through making … Gill Hope
  • The creative relationships between designing and making … Niall Seery & Eddie Norman
  • The educational purpose of doing design projects … Eileen Adams

Each has taken one of Ken Baynes’ themes as a starting point. The aim is to identify the Agenda for a future review of design education policy that could lead eventually to a curriculum and related teaching strategies fit for the 21st Century. Ken Baynes has revised and extended his lecture to cover some of the social and cultural issues at stake and also act as introductions to each of the seven thematic contributions.

We intend this book to be read by politicians, manufacturers, business people, school governors, headteachers, interested parents, policy makers and other stakeholders. Most of all it is directed at teachers in those curriculum areas related to design education. We hope to give them a new sense of self-confidence in themselves and in the value of the ideas, knowledge and skills that they teach.


LDP’s recommended supplier is The Great British Bookshop:Great British Bookshop The book is also available from  good book stores (eg Waterstones) and online book sellers (eg BOOKS etc).

ISBN References

ISBN [Paperback, B&W] 978-1-909671-03-4 … £7.99 RRP
ISBN [ePub, B&W] 978-1-909671-04-1 … £2.99 RRP
ISBN [Mobi, B&W] 978-1-909671-05-8 … £2.99 RRP

Both the contributors and editors have given their time free, and these prices reflect the production and distribution costs.

We shall be sending a copy to Elizabeth Truss as LDP’s response to the Government’s consultation on its draft proposals for the future of Design & Technology and Art & Design in the National Curriculum. We believe that our message is clear and we hope that as a result of all the messages that it has received in response to its proposals, the Government changes its mind. We have shown our Recommendations in the form of a letter below.


Although the subject matter of this letter is the specific content of the English National Curriculum proposals for Design and Technology and Art and Design, the crass nature of the Government’s proposals should concern us all. We are in danger of destroying something uniquely excellent in our education system. It is not simply that Mr Gove’s team have ignored leading figures in the design, engineering and media industries, employers organizations and specialist teachers’ associations: it is also that they have completely failed to recognize the value of Britain’s contribution to design education. This is one of the few curriculum areas where we are world-leading. Art and Design and Design and Technology provide creative energy in the curriculum, encourage young people to use their imaginations, consider the needs of others and look to the future.

Countries which have previously looked to us for curriculum models and inspiration in teaching and learning approaches to design, may in future look in amazement at official vandalism. They may express sympathy but they are more likely to find us a laughing stock. Certainly the English model of design education, which crosses the boundaries between art, design and technology, will no longer be providing a relevant curriculum model for the 21st Century.

However, beyond such a loss of face, and indeed, beyond the pragmatic arguments for the importance of design education and its contributions to economic well-being and the creative industries, there is potentially an even greater loss. There has been a growing understanding of Design as a third culture, one as significant as Science and the Humanities, which has its own epistemology and language. Such progress stems from the work of Bruce Archer and his colleagues within the Design Education Unit at the Royal College of Art in the 1970s and 1980s. It had been thought that decision-makers within the educational establishment had begun to share some of this understanding and recognize its importance for children’s learning. Apparently, this has not been the case, and so it is important for our voice to be heard. In this sense, it is vital that the Government listens to us.

Is design a ‘proper’ subject? As academics we argue that it is. Design education is backed by coherent pedagogical theory and a substantial body of research. Over the past month we have ‘plied our trade’ and contributed to a book of recommendations and essays which is about to be published by Loughborough Design Press. The aim of this short book is to provide a launch pad for a future design education curriculum. We have also addressed the immediate situation and produced a freely downloadable paper available at which summarizes the essential nature of design education, reviews relevant research and makes a number of recommendations.

That all this has been done in a very short period and on a non-profit basis by authors and publisher alike, is a measure of how seriously we take the Government’s actions. These are the recommendations. The Government should:

  • Establish a new institution in higher education devoted to researching the theory, content and pedagogy of design education and offering courses for teachers. It would also work with existing institutions offering teacher training.
  • Establish a ‘Commission’ with the task of developing a design education curriculum. It should be able to fund experiments and trials in schools.
  • Adopt Professor Roberts’ paper as an initial framework for the future development of design education.
  • Recognize the research contributions that have been made towards the understanding of design education.
  • Set up two or three ‘research consortia’ of schools (primary and secondary) who would attempt to achieve exemplary practice in design education.
  • Re-establish a new body based on the 1970s confederation of organisations devoted to the development of design education. Teachers’ professional bodies, designers’ professional bodies, pressure groups etc. If they can be persuaded, it should be established under the auspices of the Royal Society of Arts.
  • Organize a travelling national exhibition of exemplary design work from primary and secondary schools.
  • Establish an authoritative body representing universities, business, the design professions and schools to draft new GCSE and A-level design examinations based on the submission and assessment of design projects backed with theoretical papers on technology, materials, aesthetics and design history and seek wide acceptance of the examination and its methods of assessment.

And, in the immediate future, whilst the effects of these actions are coming into play:

  • Abandon the current proposals for reforming Design and Technology and Art and Design within the National Curriculum while acknowledging the national importance of design education as an element in both these subject areas.
  • Listen to the advice it has received through, for example, the Design and Technology Association.
  • Do nothing, or implement one of the credible proposals that have been developed during the consultation phase as an interim measure.

You are welcome to download a section of the book by clicking on the link below. This is a free download.

Download Sample Pages

View the Book Page for Design Education: A Vision for the Future.

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