The people behind the #includedesign campaign, who have been lobbying the government to add a sixth pillar of Creative subjects into the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), have launched a new campaign highlighting the “Hypocrisy of Tech City”.
Tech City is the 'brand' name given by the government to the creative technology community in and around Shoreditch in east London. According to some estimates, there are more than 3,000 creative tech firms in this area of London employing over 50,000 people.
The government’s aim is to encourage continued investment throughout this area of London – to appeal not only to small and agile startups but the bigger tech companies like Google. The ultimate ambition is to create a tech hub for Europe that rivals the likes of Silicon Valley.
However, Joe Macleod, global design director at ustwo (right) and #includedesign campaign lead, claims that Michael Gove’s proposed EBacc has undermined this positive initiative by demonstrating a lack of real understanding when it comes to the needs of start-up technology companies.
This is because, as things currently stand, the EBacc qualification will exclude creative subjects and potentially computer science from the education system – many of which make up key foundations to a successful career within a creative technology company.
Computing is hard
Last year, the BCS (British Computer Society) published a report claiming to provide convincing evidence that some of the new GCSEs in Computer Science require a higher degree of intellectual depth to achieve grade C than is required by some Physics GCSEs.
Those involved are quietly confident that Computer Science will be given EBacc status, putting it on a level pegging with the other sciences. However, no such provisions appear to have been made for the creative subjects.
The Design Council's campaign states that the omission of these subjects will have a direct impact on future talent becoming part of technology industry, because both skill-sets are needed in taking ideas from their early sketches, through to rapid prototyping and development, to finally marketing and launching a product.
“The stark message is that the digital industries in Tech City and across the UK will be compromised on the global stage if we cut off the source of talent through a subject selection process that isn’t influenced by a student’s creative and design ability,” said Andrew Henning, Head of Education at the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA)
“There is great digital talent in schools and real interest to pursue a rewarding career in our industry. We are very concerned this will be undermined by the current EBacc policy.”
A reliance on volunteers
Jason Goodman, founder and CEO of creative agency and incubator Albion, said that omitting creative subjects and computer science from the EBacc will leaving volunteer organisations like Code Club to pick up the slack.
Graham Brown-Martin, founder of Learning Without Frontiers added that the future success of the Tech City initiative relies on talented and inspired individuals collaborating to compete on the world stage to disrupt old business models with creativity and innovation.
“It is our creative application of academic disciplines such as maths, science and technology that provides competitive advantage thus access to and integration of creative disciplines within the school curriculum and our children’s lives will be an important aspect of national well-being, economic growth and indeed, the Tech City program,” he said.