Join our Mailing List

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive regular email updates of ResPublica's work, upcoming events and recent blogs from the Disraeli Room.

The Disraeli Room

The Disraeli Room

Blog Post

Our Future is in the Making: Educating and training craft

26th May 2015

The huge talents of craft makers are incredibly inspiring, as we will see reflected in this week’s series of blogs from makers Rebecca Gouldson and Rosalind Wyatt, from the e-commerce platform Folksy and from the Crafts Council and Creative Skillset.

Yet there’s a growing clamour of protest about the state of learning for the next generation of makers. Alongside the Crafts Council, advocacy groups such as the Cultural Learning Alliance and the All Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design Education are also making their voices heard about course closures and the declining opportunities for creativity in schools.

We know education and training in crafts is important: it produces makers of the future, prepares those with craft skills for the wider creative economy and beyond, and develops the haptic and creative skills so important for all young people and their learning. This is reflected in the big increase in the interest and value attached to the notions of ‘crafted’, ‘handmade’ and ‘authentic’. Evidence suggests that the contemporary cultural and creative economies are booming. Crafts Council evidence shows that craft skills alone contribute £3.4bn to the UK economy.

The Crafts Council decided to explore recent trends in craft education and training to get underneath what was happening. We were keen to secure a strong evidence base to drive debate about the importance of craft education and training. Findings in our series of reports, Studying Craft show that higher education courses have taken a bigger hit than any other stage of education. Almost half the courses available in 2007/08 were withdrawn by 2012/13.

Universities and colleges also depend on those young people whose creative appetite is whetted in school. But our findings show that there was a 25% drop in young people taking craft-related GCSEs between 2007/08 and 2012/13. Why is this happening? There is clearly a downward pressure on young people through the school performance framework to pick those so-called facilitating subjects that the Russell Group advises are more frequently required for entry to degree courses. At the same time, there is a disinvestment by schools in training and continued professional development for art, craft and design teachers, as well as in the necessary equipment (and mess!)

The question we need to ask is what kind of people do we wish to cultivate? Our evidence on the transfer of craft skills into other sectors shows that medicine, manufacturing, film and many other industries rely on the haptic skills of making. At the Crafts Council our new Learning and Talent Development team are putting in place an exciting range of formal and informal education opportunities for future and existing makers. These include Make Your Future, a new national schools programme that will connect traditional and digital technologies to ignite a passion for craft in young people. But the organisations offering these opportunities cannot alone reverse the worrying trends highlighted in our research.

On the back of our evidence, we launched an education Manifesto for craft and making Our future is in the Making. Working with partners within and beyond the craft sector, our calls for change are being taken up through campaigns, events and new learning opportunities. The top 3 manifesto calls we would like to see new Ministers address are:

  • A review of the Ofsted criteria for ‘outstanding’ schools to recognise teaching and learning in art, craft and design.
  • Reform of the school performance frameworks to remove the disincentives to studying craft subjects.
  • A review of the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) funding for costly studio-based subjects in higher education.

What else do we need to do? Improved entrepreneurship education would encourage more young adults to feel confident in pursuing and setting up their own business ideas. Too many students are still anticipating that they will find a job with an employer, rather than through setting up their own businesses.

Above all, we would like to see greater emphasis on creativity in schools, the diversification of routes into craft and improved support for sole-traders and small businesses. If not, we may well be deprived of the very type of knowledge, skills and understanding to which we as a society are ultimately aspiring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

ResPublica Response to changes to the National Planning Policy Framework

The Government’s housing announcements on the 5th March were the first substantial change to the planning system since the Coalition reforms six years ago. The...

Food poverty: Time to lift the veil?

A century on from Charles Booth’s famous Poverty Map of London, accurate information on poverty has never been more important. So the findings of...

The Disraeli Room
ResPublica’s Response to the Industrial Strategy White Paper

Following the creation of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in July 2016 and firing the starting gun for a string of sector...

The Disraeli Room
ResPublica’s Response to the Autumn Budget 2017

The second Budget of 2017 delivered by Philip Hammond following the abolition of the Autumn Statement, was widely trailed as a tight political tightrope for...

Child Protection in the Digital Age

I was delighted when the Government introduced its Digital Economy Bill in the last session which gave effect to the 2015 General Election manifesto commitment...

A stake in it for everyone; why Conservatives should support regulation of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

FOBTs or B2 machines are highly addictive, one way we know this, according to research conducted by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, is that FOBT...

Championing renewed leadership in governance and business practice

It didn’t get to the point where we saw ‘Save Unilever’ held aloft on placards outside Downing Street, yet there was widespread unease about Kraft’s...

Industrial Strategy: A positive start but more must be done

The Government revealed their industrial strategy this week, with three main aims: Build on our strengths and extend excellence into the future; Close the gap...

Who can give the modern Cathy a home?

It’s 50 years since Ken Loach’s groundbreaking film, Cathy Come Home, documented the inhuman effects of homelessness. Without a home, as his heartbreaking film shows,...