Council urges lobby on technology classes

Secondary schools need £1bn for new curriculum, says report

By David Fowler

Schools, industry and the engineering profession should jointly lobby for funds for technology teaching in secondary schools, says a new Engineering Council report.

Technology teaching needs £1bn of investment in equipment and facilities for the new curriculum, and an annual £10m to cover running costs.

The report* calls for the Government to invest £100m a year for 10 years to redress the shortfall to achieve the aim of `good technology for all’.

Based on a survey by the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Brunel University of 344 schools in England and Wales – a 10% sample – the report found that funding was below the recommended levels, class sizes were too big, and facilities were inadequate.

The average technology departmental grant in 1994-95 was £5.86 a pupil, ranging from 40p to £21.10 a pupil. This compares with the Design and Technology Association recommendation of £9.60 a head.

Nearly two thirds of technology departments said they were inadequately equipped to cope with Key Stage 4 of the new curriculum. Average class size at Key Stage 3 was 21.1 and at Key Stage 4 20.2, both above maximum recommendations. There were insufficient specialist rooms and many workshops were not large enough.

More than three quarters of schools wanted more in-service training to better align staff expertise to the new curriculum. Nearly half did not have a full time technician.

The report calls for:

* Government funding for a rolling programe of investment of £100m annually for 10 years;

* funding to meet the £10m annual shortfall in running costs;

* Government funds for the recruitment and training of technology teachers;

* senior management of schools to seek support from their community, including industry and Tecs, and for national programmes; andnthe engineering profession to lobby for the adequate resourcing of school technology.

* Technology Education in Secondary Schools, The Engineering Council, 0171-240 7891.