Design and Technology (D&T) education is in decline: between 2012 and 2013, there was a 9.9 percent drop in the number of students pursuing the subject as an A-Level and last year only 4 percent of high school students chose to take the subject as a GCSE compared to 5.6 percent in 2009. This steady loss of interest in D&T has seen the subject fall from 6th to 9th place in the GCSE popularity table despite its importance for Britain’s economic growth.
The RSA Student Design Awards, which celebrated its 90th anniversary this year, challenges university students to apply design thinking and skills to address current and pressing social, environmental and economic issues.
Building on the prestige of the SDAs, we are now developing a competition to engage future generations at a younger age - the RSA Pupil Design Awards. This will give students aged 12- 18 a chance to learn and apply their design skills to real life issues and problems. We believe that design learning and thinking should be at the heart of every young person’s education, and that extending the RSA Student Design Awards to a younger audience could be a great way to help schools to inspire new generations of great British designers.
In 2014, we ran a successful pilot of the Pupil Design Awards with 300 students from across the RSA Academies, working on four briefs. In partnership with the Design and Technology Association, we are now exploring options to expand the project with a larger number of schools before creating a national competition available across the UK.
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