The engineering GCSE is due to be scrapped in favour of the D&T qualification, but that faces falling numbers

Call to reverse decision to scrap engineering GCSE

The IET has urged the Government to reconsider scrapping the engineering GCSE after a bumper year for the subject.

Analysis of the 2014 GCSE results released today shows a 73 per cent increase in students successfully studying GCSE engineering – 5,027 students took the course in 2014 compared to 2,897 in 2013.

But the Government announced in June that the course would be scrapped by 2017, alongside GCSEs in electronics and manufacturing, due to low numbers taking the courses and concerns that they overlap with the new design and technology (D&T) curriculum. AS and A levels in engineering will be discontinued in 2016 for the same reason.

The IET has petitioned regulator Ofqual over their proposals saying the move could exacerbate make the engineering skills crisis troubling UK employers.

Paul Davies, IET Head of Policy, said: “It is imperative that GCSE engineering be reformed rather than removed. One of the reasons given for removing this subject is due to the low student numbers.  However, the results published today show a large increase.

“GCSE engineering is widely recognised as a significant route to providing the crucial technical skills that young people need to succeed in industry.  According to the IET Skills Survey, 44 per cent of engineering, IT and technical recruits do not meet the employer’s expected levels of skills.

“It is important to engage students with the discipline of engineering as early as possible. These subjects build on key skills applicable to many areas and develop a systems-thinking approach in addition to allowing for the application of mathematics.

“It is unclear whether these skills will be adequately covered by the proposed D&T syllabus.  The fact of the matter is that the UK has a shortage of engineers and the removal of these subjects sends the wrong message about their importance to the UK’s economy.

“We believe that rigorous, highly valued qualifications should exist in engineering and technology areas that will be vital to the nation’s future and that all education policy makers should seek to maximise the take up of these qualifications.”

While the engineering GCSE saw a rise in students this year, D&T saw a substantial drop in the number of students completing the course from 219,931 in 2013 to 213,629 this year.

Richard Green, CEO of the Design and Technology Association, said: "A three per cent drop in students taking D&T at GCSE – 6,302 fewer in total – paints a dire picture for the subject, but the reality is likely to get far, far worse.

"The English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which schools are now judged on, marginalises creative and practical subjects in favour of a very narrow set of academic measures. The engineering industry makes a vital contribution to the UK economy, but the constraints EBacc places on schools is squeezing the life out of the very subjects upon which Britain's future as a global powerhouse is built.

"Twenty-five years ago Britain became the first country in the world to enshrine D&T in the National Curriculum. Today, as booming economies in the Far East look to copy the model Britain pioneered, we face the very real prospect that D&T could disappear entirely from many schools within the next five years."

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