Talking D&T

TD&T103 Talking about the EPI report with Tony Ryan

June 14, 2022 Dr Alison Hardy
Talking D&T
TD&T103 Talking about the EPI report with Tony Ryan
Show Notes Transcript

After my episode about the EPI report (the state of D&T) I am delighted to be joined by Tony Ryan, chief exec of the Design and Technology Association. Listen to me ask him some awkward questions, his frank replies and honesty about how he feels about the report's findings, plus shares some news about what's next.

(Update - we recorded this a few weeks ago and D&TA are now in the middle of the events asking for views from head teachers, business and other organisations about D&T.)

Episode transcript

Mentioned in this episode
EPI report
Conversation article
Millenium Cohort Data
D&T Research Strategy Group
Speak up for Design and Technology: Teacher Consultations



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Alison Hardy:

Well, this is a new one for me somebody actually approaching me and ask him to come on the podcast, or was it kind of mutual? I think I first talked to you about this, Tony, quite a few years ago or a couple years ago when we were sort of both setting up podcasts. So it's really exciting to have a fellow podcaster. On this morning, I was kind of a bit apprehensive thinking, does He set us up like this? You know, when we kind of meet later in the week, and we're recording for your podcast, I'm thinking, what am I going to learn? And so that's kind of quite nice for me to talk to somebody who does a podcast. But if you haven't guessed already, I'm talking this morning with Tony Ryan, who's the Chief Executive of the Design and Technology Association. So I'm not going to waffle on any longer. Tony, I'm going to pass over to you. So you can tell people who who might not know who you are kind of saying building a bit of having a high status them the great profile, who you are, what you are and what you do. Over to you.

Tony Ryan:

Thank you very much, Alison. I thought I'm not quite sure if I if I elbow my way onto this podcast or whatever. I'm not quite sure what happened there. But I think we were talking. Yeah, and you're gonna come on mine as well. And I think it'll be a really, really, it's just, I think what's happened here with this paper is so important. And he's talking about and it needs sharing, and there are no rights and wrongs in here. Really, it's a discussion and that's hopefully what we're going to start this morning. There's a bit of a discussion. Yeah, just I'm gonna I'm gonna do it in 30 seconds. Okay, hated school fell out of school, didn't like it at all never engaged with it became a car mechanic car mechanic proved to me that I wasn't thick, context of learning was there in front of me and an engine, got all the qualifications. I could, wanting to get a degree and then teaching was the way to get a degree. And my idea was pop in and pop out. And 33 years later, I found myself a head teacher, it was accidental. It all happened, it was all circumstantial. But I don't regret a minute of it. I loved education. I love education. Still, this job drew me and I tried to ignore it. But it was the heart dragging me in. Because I love this subject. And I think this subject is really important. So that's why I'm doing what I'm doing. And I've been chief executive, the Association for nearly four and a half years now, which is quite scary. Is it as long as it is indeed, I had no grey hair when I started.

Alison Hardy:

But it's growing. And it's popping up on a regular basis now. So yeah, four and a half years. So I'm gonna say if anybody wants to take me to task, I was actually on the interview panel. That's when we first met. Yes, it was. Yeah. Yeah. So Oh, crikey. Yeah, so in the days when I was a trustee, yeah. And I must say, Tony, I think you've really sort of shifted the profile of the association, the voice of the association, into into new ways of talking about the subject and the curriculum developments and the the workshops and such that it sort of promoted by the association is fantastic. And I always hear great things about your podcast. So, you know, not very often, and I'm gonna make a public compliment to anybody, you know. But you have been, you know, I can imagine your site's been a huge learning curve. But over the years, you've kind of really taken the association and begin to shape it in a new direction in response to what's going on in terms of D&T education.

Tony Ryan:

It's been massive, it's been, for me, it's probably one of the biggest learning curves I've ever gone on. Because running a school, actually, budget wise, and I think I said this interview, you know, I was running a 12 and a half million pound budget school. And you run in a 1.3 million pound budget with the association. So it should be easier. But it's completely different, because you're running a business, really, and you have to run it as a business. Because if you don't, you're not around in future years to look after the subjects. And I'm very aware at the moment that the association is one of the last bodies out there really, that is fighting for the subjects. And by that what I mean, is lobbying and trying to convince government that this subject is worthwhile having on the curriculum, there are other people out there doing some wonderful things with with with STEM specifically, but also with design and technology. But it's been a massive learning curve. And I hope now we're in a position where we are starting I mean, a big drive at the minute is trying to connect what's going on in schools with what's going on in business and industry? Because I think you can't ignore that connection with our subjects. If you do you, you, you lose the contacts, you lose the meaning.

Alison Hardy:

I might beg to differ with you on that one. But we're not going to go down. We're not going to go down that route.

Tony Ryan:

Another podcasts,

Alison Hardy:

the podcasts and other debates. And but yeah, I mean, you mentioned this to begin with about about the report. So yeah, that's how that's how we kind of finally got a date in the diary to record this podcast was you reached out in response to an episode that I did recently about this report a spotlight on design and technology study in England. And, and you you very kindly said that it was a balanced analysis of the report. Yeah. Which is what I was trying to give in that report, because it is a report. It's not a it's not an action plan, is it? It's a status. But so I'm really glad that you've come on to kind of, to give it a little bit more detail because I raised some questions. And I kind of hinted at some things that I could see were, were limitations of the report for all sorts of reasons. I'm using the word limitations advisedly, not as in a limited as it was negative but limited as in you kind of have to work within parameters when you when you do these sorts of reports. So so we thought that today did we tell you that it'd be really good to to talk about the report and kind of how it came into being what its purpose is and explore some of the things that came up and kind of debate a little bit about about what's next. If we run out of time, we might do the next bit about what's next in another podcast. Sure. So gonna give us some context of this report.

Tony Ryan:

It came about I mean, I was very aware that we didn't have a baseline. And and what I mean by that is, the DfE, when you're working with the DfE, you can't work in anecdotes. As soon as you start talking in anecdote, their eyes glaze over. And quite often, they get up and walk away. And I mean, that literally, it's like, thank you very much. That's a lovely story. Somebody said to me, once, it's a lovely story. But it's got no context, it's got no science behind it, thank you very much. Nice meeting you. So you don't want to put yourself in that position ever again. And I can understand very, very aware that over the course of the last, let's say, 10 years, it might not be quite that long, but it's a long time, we haven't really got a contextual piece that says this is where the subject is. Now, this is, this is exactly where the subject is. So this is what the the the concept of this report was, it was let's dig in, let's find out exactly where the subject is, let's try and find out why it's where it is, if we can, although we knew that that was going to be limited. And let's try and find some some sort of regional stuff as well and find out what's going on in regions. Because we didn't have that. What we wanted to be honest, was we wanted access to something called LEO data, and the LEO data gives you access to the national pupil database. And now the DfE apparently have not refused to release that for this purpose at the moment, so. And for the listeners out there, what that would allow us to do, and I think it's a really essential piece of research that we need to follow up with, is we need to follow up students that have studied design and technology successfully at school, or maybe unsuccessfully as well, what jobs have gone on to wherever that were, you know, and it won't tell you the exact job, but it'll tell you the sector, it'll tell you the level they're working at, it'll tell you whether they've had prolonged periods of unemployment or not. And you can then regionalize that as well. And you can work out if design and technology is actually having a massive positive impact in some parts of the country, where it's perhaps not in others. So that is what we wanted to do. And we couldn't, we weren't able to do that, because we couldn't get access to that. So the aim was to do a baseline epi actually approached us, first of all, and so this is a piece of work that we feel needs doing. And they saw a gap in research. And they said, This is somewhere that we want to plug, um, it came at a price. And it was a price that we couldn't afford as an association. So we reached out to partners and industry partners and said, Look, this is what we want to try. And do we need to raise this amount of money, will you support us? And will you get in there with us and help us and luckily, we had some really good industry partners that backed it financially, and allowed us to do this piece of research, which took just over a year, it was just it was about it's about 13, 14 months in total.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, these things are quite complex, aren't they? You know, writing reports like this, collecting the data, exploring what data is publicly available. So I, I, as a researcher would kind of say that they're using secondary data, they've not collected data to do this. And it's a real shame that things like the Leo dataset, and that's the other one is the Millennium cohort studies, isn't it? That's a national dataset to use, but there's kind of limitation and there's parameters, but it makes things kind of Yeah, you're not having to go out and collect data. But as you say, I really liked that term that you started off with there, but it's a context you will report that there was no baseline there was anecdote, you know, and there was also small pockets. You know, I've I've done a couple of articles about declining figures, but that was 2015. You know, David Spendlove does stuff every year about teacher recruitment. So it's right, but they're all Betty. And they're not necessarily analysing in the same way. So it's very difficult to collate them so it's, it's Good to have this report, although it does come at a cost, having that expertise to Anna to find the data to clean it, to kind of do something with it that makes it presentable in terms of a non statistical audience reading it is cost money. So yeah, I don't blame me for reaching out to other people, but seeing the importance of it, and it will, and it was.

Tony Ryan:

Yeah, I mean, I guess we'll talk about later on, we'll talk about, you know, the people that were involved in, you know, the sectors that were involved in, I would have liked to see the thing would have been, you know, Alison. And the thing with D&T is, it's wide. And that's our strength, and its weakness at the same time, is that we sometimes I feel I've tried to be all things to all people. I'm quite pragmatic when it comes to these things, like, you know, as a piece of research here, there's somebody wanting to do this piece of research, they need X amount of money, who can I reach out to that is going to perhaps provide that money in order to enable this. And I'm not too precious as to who I'll reach out to if I'm really honest, it's like, the money needs to be there, because we need the research because we can't move on without it. And I'm aware that we're on a burning bridge, you know, I really do feel at the moment that the subject has not got time on its side. So I can't afford to spend six months having conversations about where the money's gonna come from. I've got to make it quick.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, gotta give it 10 That sort of thing. Run in a couple of weeks, haven't you to be able to make it happen

Tony Ryan:

It was less than a month? So it happened very, very quickly. Yeah.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cuz I highlighted that it's, it's quite engineering focused. Yeah. And did that, I suppose when you can answer this question. And did that impact on which data you went looking for? You know where I'm going with this.

Tony Ryan:

I honestly don't think it did. I mean, we set out early on, and they said, Do you want us to take an angle on this? Is there a particular steer that you want on this? And it was like, No, that definitely isn't. And if if I had had, I mean, let's mention textiles, because it's there. If I had had a textiles funder that I could have spoken to as textiles industry partner, that I could have spoken with, who would have put an amount in and you know, we're not talking about, we're not talking about a few 100 quid, we're talking about 10s of 1000s of pounds, then I would have reached out to them immediately. And so I, there's a danger that it will be read into this, that this is an engineering report or not a textiles based report or a food based report or whatever it might be. It's not it's a baseline on the subject, which allows us now to it gives us a platform to build on. And it's a platform that really can't be argued with because it is from established data.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, yeah. And as you say, it's a good, it's a good context, contextual sort of setting a baseline. I'm just going to come back to this this textiles thing, though. Because in the in the sections, I'm kind of really getting into nitty gritty, I'll back off in a moment about the looking at the vocational qualifications. It does focus on engineering, doesn't it? It doesn't focus on design or textiles. So true. And was there a reason for that?

Tony Ryan:

No, not just oh, that's just that's just nuanced from the research. I mean, it's not it's not definitely definitely wasn't the focus for us. And it wasn't like point at this, but Don't point at that bit. Yeah, it wasn't enough.

Alison Hardy:

I suppose. I wasn't kind of saying whether whether it came from the Association, it was more whether , you know, because you set out briefs for these things, don't you these sorts of datasets and what you want, but yeah, yeah, I think I suppose I'm just being a bit sort of devil's advocate really, is that people might look at it and go, is that the association saying they don't want anything to do with textiles as a material area? Within D and T? Because they're not included this report? What I'm reading is that's not what you saying

Tony Ryan:

Categorically not no. I, I see textiles as being an integral part of the subject. I think we've lost a lot of textiles teachers over the years. And we've lost them to art and design predominantly. And, and I understand why I absolutely understand why. However, definitely from from the association's perspective, and from my personal perspective, as well. I do not see textiles as being disassociated from design and technology. I see it has been an integral part of what we do and what we are.

Alison Hardy:

Right. And I think people will be kind of relieved to hear that I suppose this is I think we could come back and talk about this actually can't worry about, you know, the different material areas as being part of design and technology. That's a whole other thing we could explore but you're really interesting, and I'll try to

Tony Ryan:

So just a little, I don't want to go deep, because I know we've not got an awful lot of time, I've been four and a half years in the job and like, what we were on a mission to save the subjects, that's the bottom line. And that, that needs money. Because we don't get any government funding as the association, people think that we get. We used to, we don't anymore, we have to generate our own funds. And most of that money comes either from bids and as a very small amount, or for membership. So membership is our main fundraising tool. When we look at pieces of work like this, we look at industry and we look at right who's going to support us, and who's gonna have to say, and I don't want to say this, but I have to say my experience in four and a half years, is that engineering is willing to put his hand in its pocket. Yeah. And there are other sectors that are less willing to put their hand in their pocket. And it's not that I haven't been approached, because they have, and they just know, they back off, when it comes to your we need this amount to do this. And this is what we're trying to do. And this is what we're trying to push. Now, they may have very valid reasons not for backing it, not for putting financial support behind it. But you know, I am fighting for textiles. And I do want to keep textiles teachers within d and t but actually, the textiles industry needs to get behind us as well. And at the moment, I haven't experienced that personally.

Alison Hardy:

Now, that's really interesting. And I'm glad you said that because you know, people outside of the association can concur with, you know, people aren't making make all sorts of assumptions based on what we what we see and that. And that's why I was really glad you're gonna come on here and talk because it just gives that space, isn't it to flesh out the report and to flesh out the context and what's and what's happening. So no, thanks for thanks for sharing that. And you've been really honest. So I appreciate that. So I'm gonna ask this question as a researcher then. So Sam took it, who is the author of the report, collated the data from secondary sources and has analysed it? Where does that data set begin, because I'm asking you as a researcher, because I'm thinking epi have done what you wanted them to do, they've produced a baseline, they've clearly analysed data, not a great picture, but they've they've set out a stall, the dataset behind it, for me as a researcher, and for the D&T research strategy group will be really exciting to kind of, then work with sounds and work that up into a different type of publication. You know, to kind of engage in a more academic space as as well. And because I can imagine that Sam's work is really rigorous. We've got that it's kind of like, what's so those sorts of questions involve? Who owns the data set? And where is it sat?

Tony Ryan:

Yeah, my understanding and I ought to know the answer to this. Absolutely. And I'll be honest with you, again, I don't. I think as far as I know, the data actually sits with EPI. Having said that, I don't think epi would have any issue at all, with people accessing the data set in order to continue the research in certain areas. And absolutely, that's something that we would want to facilitate, if possible. That's something that's a, that's an introduction that we would want to make, and we'd want it I want this data to be used as much as possible, I want this report to be used as much as possible. If I'm really honest, you know, when I first got it back, I read it. And I thought, Oh, my God I didn't think it was going to be a bundle of laughs The report when it came back, but it's pretty damning. You know, it paints a pretty bleak picture of where the subject is at the moment. And now the next stage is where do we go from there? And what how do we bring this forward? And how do we start proving that this subject has got a place to play because the DfE stance at the moment is it's a national curriculum subject, it's got to be taught up to the age of 13. It's then up to students, whether they choose it or not. And it's up to free schools and academies to choose whether they deliver it or not. And they keep this open stance, but we know that there are an awful lot. And I know from firsthand, the curriculum that you deliver in school is the curriculum that you think is right for the students that you've got in your school. But it's also dictated and it shouldn't be, but it's dictated by the budget that you've got and the expertise that you can pull in and body expertise. I mean, you need the right head of department in every department for that department to flourish. And if you can't get the right skill sets, which a lot of schools are telling us at the moment is I just can't get the right leadership in design and technology, then you will look at other alternatives and one of those alternatives is that you don't deliver the subject

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, that's that's a pragmatic decision. You can see that happening all over and it's it's it's a shame and it's sad and it kind of compounds this situation with the report, isn't it the position

Tony Ryan:

Let's do the maths, let's do the maths. I mean, we did it when we were chatting just before we started here. And I think the maths is really important because people need to understand this if your head, I've been in a position where I've set my budget before the summer. And then over the summer holiday, the DfE have announced that they're going to cut funding to sixth form funding, which took 700,000 pounds off our budget, because we had a big sixth form. So I've now got to go back during the summer holidays, and I've got to reset my budget, finding 700,000 pounds from somewhere and, and that is just unbelievable, you can't do that without losing jobs. That's, that's the bottom line. So then you sit down and you start looking at your curriculum, and you think, okay, if I close, let's just say, a Design and Technology Department with four staff and a technician. When you look at the salaries there, and then you look at you look at the cost of running that department, which is about four times the cost of running a geography department, then I'm going to save myself around 250,000 pounds through closing that department down. It's a big, big way towards where you might need to be. And that's what we're fighting against. If I can't get the right leadership, it's a very pragmatic decision to say, I can't do that. So therefore, especially if your art and design department isn't fine art, but he's actually teaching something close to product design.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, yeah. And it's heartbreaking to hear it you should have we talked about this earlier. And, you know, if you say is, if faced with a budget, and a balance sheet, and the books don't balance, you've got to make some horrible and pragmatic choices.

Tony Ryan:

You might love design and technology as a head teacher, I mean, there's many out there that don't, but you might love it. And if you can't get the right leadership in, I mean, I'm working with one school at the moment to try and find them the right leader and try and try and because they desperately want it, new school, new facilities, great school, great, great opportunity, advertised twice now, and haven't had a single decent application for for the head of department roll. Now, you know, as that head, you start getting very, very nervous and you start thinking, Can I actually deliver this subject. So that's, that's the position we're in and the recruitment into the subject, which the report highlights is shocking, you know, we we've reached at best 44% have a very low target over the last 11 years, that's the best year we had, at times it was down to 23% have a very low target. Now, and what I mean by very low target is the DfE sets figures on what it feels it needs. But it doesn't really take into consideration the number of teachers that we know are retiring early. And we know that we've got one in five teachers out there from surveys that we've done, who are within three to four years of retirement age. So we're losing at the top end, but we're not filling at the bottom end. And we have got half the number of teachers now, who are specialists trained in design and technology that we had 11 years ago. So it almost makes me feel safe. Just to hearing that it's you know, it's kind of makes your stomach churn. Yeah, I mean, I say the numbers so often, my stomach doesn't turn anymore. I just get bloody angry if I'm really honest. It's like, you know, I, again, we've discussed this, you and I, separately, you know, when when we've met, I don't think there's any conscious decision by government here to kill design and technology, I don't think anyone has sat down and said, This is not a valid subject, it needs to go. Let's do this, and it will slowly kill it. But the consequences of the curriculum they do believe in, which is this knowledge based academic curriculum with certain subjects have a more weight than others, the back that is hurting us at the moment, and it's hurting us hard. Because if you're looking at, again, pragmatic decisions as a head on my school is measured on how many points I get, which is total together from the results that students get in certain subjects. So in English and maths, they get double that's in passing basket one, all the ebooks are in basket two, and in basket three, as was described by one politician a short while ago is everything else, including all the hobby subjects was an eye quotes. They're the hobby subjects. Right? Well, I'd really love to swear at that point. I'm holding back but but Yeah, and like heads are gonna look at that basket three. And it doesn't matter if you've got a brilliant art and design department, a brilliant Design and Technology Department and a brilliant drama department. And a student does all three of those and gets nines in all three, only one of those will count towards your total for your school. So it's not in your interest to allow students to actually do creative subjects. You push them towards the Ebacc subjects you push them towards and and then it becomes about what's good for the school and what's not good for, you know, not what's good for the students. And that's why that's why I'm not a head any more to be honest Alison I got fed up compromising the values that that I really believe in, I was there for the kids. I was there because the curriculum that we delivered was going to make a life difference to the students in that school. And the pressure that I was starting to be put under worse, you know, classics, for example, we could deliver classics, because we've got some kids here that are really good at languages. Yeah, a lot of them are Somali, and they speak two languages, they've had a really, really difficult life up to this point, the very last thing I would argue that they needed was another language. It wasn't what they needed, what they needed were other things. And so, you know, I'm glad I'm not hurt anymore. And actually, I'm glad I'm doing the job that I'm doing, because I think I just more impact with what I'm doing at the moment than I would ever have as a head teacher. I hope Yeah.

Alison Hardy:

As I said, back at the beginning, I'm going to pay another compliment and issue. Yeah, I think you definitely you definitely are having a positive a positive income impact on the subject. And, you speaking, speaking, now with this report, and also the other stats that you've got from a place of knowing and your experiences a head teacher obviously, adds a real significant value to how you kind of understand both sides if you might not like it, but you understand understand both sides. And so you've got the report. You've the some there's some interesting data I picked up around the regions that that was kind of a bit of an eye opener, and that was that was quite useful.

Tony Ryan:

Its a shocker.

Alison Hardy:

What have you kind of felt Yeah, gone? Which base Did you find a shocker?

Tony Ryan:

Well, there's there's a few bits in there. I mean, I you know, how low it is, in certain London boroughs was a shocker for a start, you know, one London borough where only 4% of students in total, do design and technology. Now, what has happened in that borough, I would guess, and I haven't dug into it yet. I will do. But I would guess there's a lot of academies and free schools in that borough, and I guess they can dictate their own curriculum. And they've decided not to, not to deliver design and technology would be my guess, but 4% of the London Borough, but also across the whole London boroughs. The percentage of students taking GCSE and A level was quite low. Other areas that were low with the Northeast Yorkshire and the Humber, which were all around 18%. Now, some of those aren't a surprise. Humber wasn't a surprise, because I think there's a lot of vocational qualifications that are picked up by students in those areas, which I believe is the case. And again, we as another piece of research to find out that our what surprised me huge East Midlands didn't surprise me. East of England didn't surprise me really, because we know a lot of schools there that are doing really great jobs at delivering it. Southwest really knocked my socks off. I didn't I just didn't get that. But 25.5% entry rate in the Southwest is is very high. So yeah, there were there were bits of it that came out that that yeah, it was surprising and probably probably provokes a deeper search into some of that data to find out exactly what is going on there. We can we can hypothesise, but I think it's probably then the Nationals BTecs, etc. that have been picked up by students in certain parts of the country.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, Cumbria was another one. That was a bit of a an interesting one, wasn't it in the post? 16? Yeah, sort of areas. So yeah. So I suppose some of that regional stuff was quite interesting. So going back to London. So if you're a politician and you want to go to a school, you're going to tend to go and look in London, because it's nearby, where you're doing most of your work. And so if there isn't much design and technology going on, you're not seeing it. So you kind of is compounded, isn't it? So they're not they're not seeing it. So I think that kind of doesn't, doesn't help, I suppose. Then the other thing that I kind of, I think I kind of muted was, was why the were larger numbers different, you know, not the not too much of a challenge with teacher recruitment was where there were larger centres of teacher training that involves design and technology. Yeah, you know, so the East Midlands has got NTU and Sheffield Hallam and West Midlands got BCU. You know, so there's kind of places around which you've got more than two or three.

Tony Ryan:

And I'm not sure which ones feed in which there I mean, is the ITE feeding the needy in schools that is there because there are so many, or is it the other way around? I'm not really, I'm not really sure.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah. So there's kind of the sort of things to kind of think is is that happening because of why is that happening? You know, I think I think places like the Humber the Northeast, and particularly rural Lincolnshire as well have challenges with recruiting staff. Because that might be that involves relocation and you know what kind of pulls you over there. If you don't, if you go over and work sort of Louth, Mablethorpe sort of way in in Lincolnshire, the road networks not great for getting out to the weekend. I know that because I've taught in case for quite a few years and lived in Lincoln. And you know, the road works much better now. But at that point, it sounds like I was travelling down country lanes, I wasn't it wasn't that bad. But you know, there is now a dual carriageway all the way to Lincoln. And, but but those things make a difference if you've just graduated. Yeah, and you're relocating. And you go looking for where you know, people where your support networks are, or the easy access to support that work.

Tony Ryan:

Yeah. And a support network is really, really important, especially in your in your, in your beginning years of your career, you don't want to be there on your own miles away from anybody else. And I like what I think's really good around sort of Norfolk Ipswich. Norwich, that area is the support network they've created around those schools is great, and they look after each other. And if you go there, you are sort of isolated really from from the country in the way that Norfolk is a beautiful part of the world. But you've got this cluster around you that are going to support you and I'm going to make life easier for you. If you go to somewhere else in the country without picking any particular targets for it, you're pretty much going to be on your own. And it'd be up to you to do your own networking. And that's where we are as an association is trying to play a role there. You know, we had regional groups years ago. And what we're trying to do is create those virtually now where we can pull people in regionally onto online. And because we know I mean, it's a ridiculous thing that this could be the loneliest job in the world. And it sounds crazy, you go into a school, which is got 1300 people and 100 teachers every day. But you might go in your classroom and not talk to another adult all day long. And you might go a week without talking to another person that's teaching the same subject as you really about about the subject. So those opportunities to discuss talk, and just vent sometimes are really, really important.

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, and then it makes you feel like you're not so alone or other people give you a language to talk about outside of your department about your subject. And you can sort of see, I mean, there's not necessarily a huge amount that's come out positive of a global pandemic, but that more greater comfort, we now have about doing things like your dip you and I doing today sort of talking online, having group meetings online, those barriers have kind of come down. And so it does make it easier. I mean, we used to run a regional event in NTU. And call the challenges about timings parking access, who's bringing the biscuits, who's bringing the biscuits, who's carrying the earlobe, from our building, to another building, you know, and all of that stuff on top of for teachers, and for the university, you know, a challenging diverse job with a huge amount of demands, and family commitments, you know, and want to have a good work life balance. So now I can can really see that that's a way forward is building up those regional networks online to have those spaces. It's been a massive conversation.

Tony Ryan:

Sorry, Alison, and there's been a massive shift there. You know, if I'd have asked three years ago, whether people were interested in online meetings, then the answer would have been a categoric no from teachers who want to be in the room, with all the problems that being in the room comes with, you know, getting people at the right time in the right place, and all the rest of it, you know, you cater for 15, and then six turn up is what happened regularly. Now, you can bring people together for an hour online, and you do get 15 in the room. So there are huge bonuses. And you said it's a mindset change, that people realise that this is an efficient way of doing it. And it's not as good as being in the room. If the Bring Your Own bit, bring your own biscuits for a start, but at least you get to talk with like minded colleagues, and you get to throw things out there. I'm thinking of doing this. What do you think it's those those sorts of questions?

Alison Hardy:

Yeah, yeah. Or what? I mean, I get quite a lot around curriculum, I get a lot of teachers sort of reach out to me around curriculum and around knowledge. How do we talk about it? You know, what's the way of refuting what's going on the school? But where does D&T seeped into those conversations and search? And yeah, as you say, I mean, I've had people reach out to me that are the only D and T teacher in the school. And it's a it's a lonely game,

Tony Ryan:

and and you're setting the curriculum for the entire school for all the students that's a huge responsibility as well. And you, you putting that together in isolation. I've set curricula over the years, but it's always been with a team, you've always sat down and you've always thought, Well, what, what about and then always individuals come into it. Yeah, but what about Helen, she's going to struggle

Alison Hardy:

Well, it's been good to kind of I know, we've with that. How do we bring her into that? And you have those kind of already touched on parts of the report. And we did say that we will think about what's next and talk about what's next. sort of conversations? Impossible to have those with But I think we're kind of out of time, and you're probably in the yourself? You need to talk to other people? Yeah. early stages of thinking about what's next for the report. So it'd be good to kind ofcome back and have a conversation around materials. And and how how kind of making people feel part of that community when they might get pulled out to other parts. And but also thinking about what's next, you know, now you've got the baseline data what's what's the next pound bigger?

Tony Ryan:

Can I hint at it? Yeah, what we've got is a lobbying plan in place for this year, which we thought about long and hard. We were working with the Royal Academy of Engineering for the last three, three and a half years pulling together a dataset which a lot of teachers fed into over 3000 Teachers fed into that dataset. We've got that data now. And we are working on that alongside this education policy institute paper. We're going to bring that to a series of roundtables. So we want to talk to head teachers, executive heads and governors. And we want to find out why the subject has been dropped in schools where it has been dropped and why it is doing so well in certain schools. I think I know. But again, anecdote is no good. We need to go out there and we need to check. We're then going to pull in business leaders because we want to find out what you know, does business really, really want this subject there? Does it support it? Does it does it value it? Again, I've I could name a string of businesses that I know do. But I want to pull wider business into that roundtable as well. And we're also going to pull in DFE, Bayes, etc, into those conversations, so they can hear what's being said. And then from that, we're going to come up with a set of policy asks if you like, and maybe a wider than policy asks, where we're looking at going to party conferences in September, October, with a plan to present this is where the subject needs to go. And this is the next stage forward. One other bit that we're doing on that is we're going to reach out regionally. Now I want to, I really want to do this face to face if I can, where I want to try and get venues where we can open up to teachers after school, and we can say okay, we're in Manchester on this day, we're in the centre of Manchester, come along from four to six, grab a coffee, grab a biscuit, let's have a chat about the subjects, let's just talk about where the subject is, what the problems are, that you're experiencing, let's find out what we can from there. And I really want to do a series of regional ones there. That will also feed the teacher voice in we've got 3000 responses on the Royal Academy work that we did. But I I've not been in front of teachers in that way. For two years, the same as none of us have really, we've we've been isolated behind machines. I want to talk to teachers, and I want to listen to teachers more than talk actually always want to hear what's going on out there. And what the real issues are. And design is one that you know, you and I have talked about a few times is that a number of teachers are veering that way rather than designer technology, because you can do that without the core. And you can do that with an all coursework assessment. I get that. I absolutely get that. What worries me is art and design numbers are going up. And art and design is increasing in stature. Whilst designer technology is going backwards. That concerns me massively. So we want to get out there. And we want to have these conversations. So I'm trying to organise those at the moment. So keep an eye on social media, keep an eye on our website, because we're going to be announcing those pretty soon.

Alison Hardy:

And I suppose the one group that I think you've got missing is higher education.

Tony Ryan:

Yeah. And I would again,

Alison Hardy:

people like me, I don't mean Teacher Education. I mean, the design departments, the, you know, the creative departments. That's what that's what I'm thinking the architecture, textiles.

Tony Ryan:

Yeah. Yeah, that's a good point, because they're quite vocal sometimes on social media, lots of chats on social media with them. But yeah, it's good point and one that I'll address.

Alison Hardy:

Well, I'm happy to help facilitate that. But I'm happy to help facilitate and promote and share as much as I can. Now it's good to have those that kind of snapshot. And I'm support. Sure, as usual, you're open to teachers and other people reaching out to you and asking questions. So where can people find you online?

Tony Ryan:

I'm on LinkedIn. So if you're on LinkedIn, that's probably where I post most. Like, I'm also on Twitter. There's tech Ryan on Twitter. And then you will get me on the if you go to info at on the data website. That will come to me as well. So you can get me you can get me in three ways.

Alison Hardy:

Well, it's been good to talk you this morning, Tony. I've really enjoyed that and really enjoyed having kind of like the the report in the round, if that makes sense, rather than just a document. And it's exciting to hear what's going to happen next. So thanks very much for your time today.

Tony Ryan:

Thanks for inviting me on. I really appreciate it. Thanks, Alison.