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Crafts Council research into craft education reveals reduction in participation

A comprehensive research report of contemporary craft education in England Studying craft: trends in craft education and training was launched by the Crafts Council today

The research examined all stages of formal education and training from Key Stage 4 to postgraduate study to look at provision and participation in craft courses for the last five academic years. Headlines include;

  • Participation in craft-related design and technology GCSEs fell by 19% to 29,000 learners at the end of Key Stage 4 and proportion of students taking craft GCSEs fell from 55% of all students to 46% (2007/8 to 2010/11).
  • A proliferation of short course options at Key Stages 4 and 5 has resulted in discipline specialisation rather than exposing students to a broad range of disciplines.
  • Further Education (FE) courses have increased but are shorter in length and there has been a decline in participation (58%) but an increase in employer-led FE participation.
  • Formal apprenticeships are low and participation has not changed dramatically but with a number of apprenticeships in development opportunities are there.  
  • Decline in Higher Education (HE) course provision (39%) but increase in numbers of learners (13% on bachelor degrees and 22% on Certificate and diploma style courses).
  • At HE there has been increase in non-UK domiciled students (46% at undergraduate level and 79% at postgraduate level) and increase in participation by those from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds (from 16% to 58% in Certificate and diploma style courses and from 9% to 18% in bachelor degree courses).

Crafts Council’s Executive Director, Rosy Greenlees said “The UK has a history of excellent craft and design education which has resulted in thriving and world-leading creative industries. The haptic and material skills of makers feed into innovation across a range of sectors. A continued decline of craft-related courses will have an effect on the next generation of makers, the creative industries more broadly and beyond that to a number of industries including medicine, technology and engineering.”
The Crafts Council and partners will work together to address these findings and develop a manifesto for craft in education. Accessible, consistent and high-quality education and training pathways will enable the craft sector and the economy to diversify and grow.

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For more information please contact media@craftscouncil.org.uk or phone +00 44 (0) 20 7806 2500

For more information on the Crafts Council visit www.craftscouncil.org.uk and follow @CraftsCouncilUK on Twitter and Facebook

Notes to Editors

  • The full report and executive summary can be found in the Research Documents section of the Crafts Council website
  • The Crafts Council is welcoming feedback and thoughts on this report in order to shape an effective manifesto on craft education. Please email research@craftscouncil.org.uk
  • Craft is a core component of the UK’s creative industries employing over 100,000 people and showing an above average gross value added (GVA) between 2008-2012.
  • Craft is one of the most entrepreneurial of all the creative industries sectors: 88% of all makers set up their own businesses and a further 6% work in business partnerships.
  • TBR and Pomegranate were commissioned to produce this report in order for the Crafts Council to secure a strong evidence base on which to argue the case for craft education.


About the Crafts Council

  • The Crafts Council’s goal is to make the UK the best place to make, see, collect and learn about contemporary craft.  
  • We believe that craft plays a dynamic and vigorous role in the UK’s social, economic and cultural life.  
  • We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to make, see, collect and learn about craft.
  • We believe that the strength of craft lies in its use of traditional and contemporary techniques, ideas and materials to make extraordinary new work.
  • We believe that the future of craft lies in nurturing talent; children and young people must be able to learn about craft at school and have access to excellent teaching throughout their education.

The Crafts Council is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £0.85 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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