Is the UK Education System Curbing Creativity in Young People?

on Wednesday, 25 July 2018.

How a lack of Design and Technology in schools could be the reason behind the demise of up-and-coming designers and manufacturers in the Furniture Industry

We all dream of what we want to be when we’re older, this is where ambitions first start, at school age. Whether you are dreaming of becoming a doctor, a historian, or an upholsterer, all of these ambitions need to be nurtured throughout our young years. So why is Design and Technology in schools on the decrease?

According to Jackie Bazeley, MD of The British Furniture Manufacturers and board member of FIESTA (Furniture Industry Education and Skills Training Alliance), the funding is just not there for schools to see subjects like woodwork and design as a fundamental course of education. Hands on subjects might only be studied once a week for one term of the year in today’s school timetables. Not only are schools potentially thinking of their own league tables needing top results in English, Maths and Science over the opportunity for breeding creativity, but also, with a lack of funding from the government, the return on investment, whether that be in terms of money or use, on a classroom full of computers is much higher than a room full of sewing machines and workbenches.

In the UK education system, and society, we see a huge gap between academia and creativity. Does it have to be separate? The design of a perfectly made custom sofa bed for example has so many components and so much craft, research and design, surely it is the work of an academic. With the introduction of the English Baccalaureate the number of schools even offering D&T is worryingly low. Jackie Bazeley claims that it is imperative for Design and Technology to be included in the curriculum for the EBacc. With these subjects being an option, rather than a necessity, a huge number of schools are choosing not to offer it at all.

Where does that leave all the budding designers and creators? The children that see their future as being a maker rather than a thinker? Have they forgotten their dream as they have been steered towards a degree in books and numbers, forgetting that there is a career option for them that doesn’t involve sitting in an office for 40 hours a week? Is it true that it is the failings of UK education that is stalling the growth of the Furniture Industry? And does the blame fall onto the heads of Government for lack of support to creative subjects, and lack of funding for schools?

Of course there is not only one catalyst for the change in numbers of manufacturers and upholsterers, but surely this has to be a huge factor. The BFM (as part of BFC) recently met with Veronica Giannangeli at BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) who has forwarded these issues onto DFE (Department for Education) along with concerns over the success of apprenticeships in the furniture industry under the new Levy. Hopefully change is on the horizon.


See 2018 BFC Manifesto

See the great work of FIESTA



Written by Annie Porter