Sir James Dyson has claimed that children should get practical lessons in cutting-edge technology and engineering

Sir Dyson urges schools to teach more engineering

Children should get practical lessons in cutting-edge technology and engineering, according to Sir James Dyson.

The inventor raised concerns that the new design and technology (D&T) curriculum "ignores the importance of practical excellence".

Instead it focuses on life skills like cookery, bike maintenance and gardening, which will not inspire young engineers and inventors, he argued.

His comments come the week after ministers published a new curriculum for primary and secondary schools.

Writing in The Times, Dyson warned that, by this year, Britain will have a deficit of 60,000 engineering graduates.

In Singapore, a move to identify bright youngsters and combine their academic excellence with practical skills is paying dividends, he says, and around 40 per cent of graduates are engineers.

"D&T teaching in our classrooms will now bring together cookery, construction and horticulture," Dyson wrote. "Life skills such as how to grill a tomato and what to do if your bike chain falls off take pride of place.

"Gardening has become a key component in a subject that should contextualise science and maths in a practical format."

Dyson praised Education Secretary Michael Gove for making progress in education, suggesting that "academic excellence is back in fashion", with schools focusing on knowledge and core skills rather than "jumping grade hurdles and ticking boxes".

But he said that D&T has been overlooked, suggesting "the new D&T curriculum ignores the importance of practical academic excellence".

Dyson said that recommendations he made for the subject, with the Design and Technology Association, have been "completely ignored".

He warned: "The new curriculum will not inspire the invention and engineers Britain so desperately needs. The academic rigour Mr Gove demanded in other core subjects is missing in D&T."

D&T is vital for youngsters who want a career in engineering, Dyson said, and children should learn to invent as well as fix things.

"Children must be excited by developments in technology and it should be driven by the changes and needs of industry. Projects should be rooted in real world problems, to make sure children are well placed for a career in design engineering."

It is not the first time that Dyson, who became Britain's 22nd richest man by developing bagless vacuum cleaners, has called for a greater focus on science and technology.

Last year he said Britain should talk more about technology so that "little Angelina wanting to go off to study French lesbian poetry will suddenly realise that things like keeping an aircraft industry, developing nuclear energy, high-speed trains, all these things are important".

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