A Crafts Council report Studying Craft 16 indicates that formal craft education is at risk

Studying Craft 16 is the third in the Crafts Council’s research series, Studying Craft: trends in craft education and training, first published in 2014. The report shows how formal craft education and training is at risk.

The report provides a comprehensive review of contemporary craft education in England, to enable policymakers, programme designers, educators and makers to understand the risks facing the long-term future of craft education and training.

The findings present a picture of a sector at risk, facing an unsustainable model for educating and training our current and future makers. Detailed findings for each stage of education are set out in the report.

Studying Craft 16 headlines are:

• Schools: the number of students studying craft GCSEs have fallen by 23% since 2007/08 (compared to a fall in all GCSE student numbers of only 6%), with those taking Design & Technology GCSEs falling at a much faster rate (41%) than those taking Art & Design. One possible reason for this may be that where Design & Technology GCSE is no longer being offered, young people are encouraged to take Art & Design instead, even though the subject may not have such a strong focus on three dimensional work.

• The number of sixth formers studying craft continues to fall, although the Year 13 A Level cohort is slowly increasing again since 2012/13, suggesting that there may be fewer students giving up craft subjects after AS Levels.

• In Further Education (FE) there is significant growth over the period of the study in student numbers taking Entry Level and Level 1 courses. However, the increase in participation in the last two years is mostly in non-regulated courses (courses not accredited by an external awarding body). FE is also likely to produce fewer skilled professionals as only 8% progress to the advanced Level 3 or Level 4 courses. Growth is mainly among older learners who may be less likely to convert their skills into professional making.

• Higher Education (HE): Craft students and courses are declining rapidly. There is an increase in higher education courses in further education institutions but the overall number of craft-related courses HE courses has, however, declined by 50% between 2007/08 and 2014/15. Overall numbers are now slightly lower than they were in 2007/08. There is a significant increase in the proportion of students from overseas, yet, with the abolition of post-study student visas in 2012, there is a greater risk of this talent leaving the UK

• Diversity: there is a welcome growth in apprenticeships, albeit small in number, since 2007/08 with most of this growth occurring in 2013/14. This reflects a shift in funding policy, with a greater focus on apprenticeships and a move away from other work-based learning. It is also encouraging to see that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students form a higher percentage of the further and higher education cohorts than in the population at large.

An animated summary of the report can be viewed here.

The full report can be viewed here.

06 Oct 2016