UK design industry tells Michael Gove to put design into the EBacc

The UK design industry has written an open letter to education minister Michael Gove asking him to reconsider not including creative subjects – including deisgn, as well as art, music, drama and others – in the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) qualification that Gove wants to use to replace the current GCSE exams that children in the UK sit aged 15-16. The #IncludeDesign campaign follows a similar one by the fine art establishment to get art included, which this week saw criticism of Gove from this year's Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price as she accepted her gong.

Individual signatories to the letter include Apple's Sir Jony Ive (above), Stella McCartney, Sir Terence Conran and Olympic Torch designers Edward Barber RDI and Jay Osgerby RDI. Organisations backing it include the Design Council, the D&AD, and BIMA – plus educational institutions include Hyper Island and University of the Arts London (which includes Central St Martins and the LCC).

Also signing are leading agencies including IDEO, Interbrand, Seymour Powell, Landor, Hemingway Design, Sapient Mother, ustwo, Landor, Wieden + Kennedy and WolffOlins – plus over 100 studios, magazines, groups and blogs.

Digital Arts is a signatory to the letter as we believe that the continued success of Britain's creative industries – which will overtake the financial industry as a source of income by 2017 – requires valuing and supporting the creative subjects of art and design at all levels of education from primary to second to higher and futher education.

#Include Design has noted that UK’s design industry is the largest in Europe and one of the strongest globally – NESTA estimates £23bn is spent on design, while Imperial College put the figure at £33.5bn in 2011[1]. Design Council research demonstrates that despite the recession the industry grew by 29 per cent between 2005 and 2010.

“Our creativity is at the forefront of our new economy and also, part of our national identity," says Jay Osgerby. "We are very creative islanders and our design education has, for decades fuelled that creativity, helping Britain to be regarded as the creative hub of the world. It’s hugely disappointing to see design being relegated to the periphery of our National Curriculum. If we do not support and invest in design education now we risk a brain drain of our best talent in the near future.  We should be upping our game, not demoting design to the side lines.”

"The creative industries in the UK are the envy of the world and make a significant difference to the quality of our lives and to the economy," says Sir Terence Conran. "The Government's proposal to strip it from their Baccalaureate makes no sense and sends out completely the wrong message. The strength of the UK creative industries is no accident, it lies in the quality of the education our young receive which is why I founded the Design Museum over twenty years ago and why we are moving to bigger premises in the Commonwealth Institute.

"We should be encouraging creativity and innovation in our young, not stifling it. I am depressed enough that as a country we make so few things, imagine if we no longer designed them as well?"

“Britain isn’t a leading design nation by accident," says Wayne Hemingway, fashion designer and Trustee of the Design Council. "It has happened because in the past we have invested in design education. It’s vital that we continue to inspire and equip young people to create and execute their ideas, and nurture the next generation. Design is the only National Curriculum subject that provides a focus on the practical as well as the theoretical - supporting innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Downgrading this subject by not including it in the English Baccalaureate would have a negative impact both for our children and for the economy.”

If you want to help support the campaign, you can contribute to the Department of Education's consultation on the EBacc. #IncludeDesign has created a template to get you started.

We've printed the letter in full below.

Dear Secretary of State,

We write to you on behalf of the UK design industry.

We believe that the omission of subjects such as Design & Technology and Art & Design from the English Baccalaureate will damage the future prosperity of our industry and the wider creative economy. It will fail to provide students with the skills that UK employers need and its impact on
the UK’s economy will be catastrophic.

The UK creative industries are the envy of the world, we set the bar in excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship. The development of an English Baccalaureate affords the Government an opportunity to enhance one of the strongest areas of our economy. It is an opportunity to create a generation that will stand the best chance of improving our global competitiveness and contribute to our future economic growth. In its proposed form however, we believe the English Baccalaureate will starve our world leading creative sector of its future pioneers.

Collectively we champion good design which shapes society and improves the way people live. The UK’s design industry is the largest in Europe and one of the strongest globally – NESTA estimates £23bn is spent on design, while Imperial College put the figure at £33.5bn in 2011. Design Council research demonstrates that despite the recession the industry grew by 29 per cent  between 2005 and 2010. Design is the lynchpin that connects our creative industries together and is fundamental to a broad range of disciplines from advertising to architecture, from furniture to fashion.

The innovation that fuels UK growth relies on knowledge, the skilled use of materials and the command of ideas. Design and the arts are vital components of an accessible and varied education system that can provide these skills.

The prospect of future generations growing up considering these subjects as unimportant is simply incomprehensible. We therefore urge you to rethink the Government’s proposal to exclude Design and the arts from the English Baccalaureate and to add a sixth pillar option for these subjects into the EBacc.  

Sir Jonathan Ive, Stella McCartney, Edward Barber RDI, Jay Osgerby RDI, Sir Terence Conran, Design Council, D&AD, British Interactive Media Association, IDEO, Interbrand, Seymour Powell, Landor, Hemingway Design, Sapient, Mother, ustwo, Landor, Wieden + Kennedy , WolffOlins , Fjord , Fitch , Method, Albion, All of Us, BERG, The Brand Union, Critical Mass, DBA (Design Business Association), The Design and Technology Association, Design Museum, Engine, Joseph Joseph, LBi, LiveWork, Made by Many, Moving Brands, Native, OneDotZero, Poke, Think, Wunderman, Zolmo, Computer Arts, Design Week, Digital Arts, Contagious Magazine, Its Nice That, Vice, Hyper Island , University of Reading, Goldsmiths, University of London, University of the Arts London, Aqueduct, Toaster, Codegent, The New Black, Nation, Mylo Design, Somewhat, Analog Folk, Glug, Anthony Dickens, Numiko, Black+Blum, Kin, Figtree, SomeOne, Viadynamics, Design Laboratory, Mosley&, Hedgehog Lab, Not Tom, Dalton Maag, Typo, Deadgood , MayNinth, Digital Doughnut, WeAreExperience, Weapon7 , Mark Thomson Design, 383 Project, Monokoto, CDD, Northern Digitals, BLAB, Graphical House, Signal-Noise, Bibliotheque, Design Studio, 1977 Design, Mat Dolphin, Cog Design, Multiadaptor, Mobext, Flamingo Magazine, Creative Mediani, Ubiquitous, Planning Unit, Irving & Co., Felt, Create Forty Eight, Blue Leaf, Kemistry, 999 Design, Alienation Digital, Bethan Gray, Brokenantler, Canonical, Cream Design, Cyber Duck, Designintuition, Digital White, Emperor Design, Farnbeyond, Flat 33, Glad, Hometown, Huw David design, Hyper Kit, Karoshi, KK Outlet, Lambie Nairn, Leopold, No Sugar Studio, Not Just Design, Obsessionistas, Philosophy Design, Piratalondon, Plot, Red front, Redberry Digital, Rocket, Rosie Lees, Sociates, Stereo Creative, Vincent and Bell, Visceral Business, WDC, We Are Human, Wickedweb, Design Jam, Playgroup, Spov, Sidekick Studios, Insider Trends, The Loft, Great Fridays, Alive Agency, Campbell Rowley

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