Before PATT39, the team had never met in person before. But with generous funding from the Edge Foundation, HME, and Nottingham Trent University (where I work) we came together to virtually attend PATT39 in Canada. In addition to the teachers and researchers, we invited a broad selection of subject leads from across the UK, including representatives from DfE, Ofsted, The D&T Association, The Design Council, and The National Society for Education in Art & Design (NSEAD).
At the event, the subject leads gave thought-provoking talks about what research they needed nationally to inform D&T policymaking. But it wasn’t just them telling us what they needed. It also included us – teachers and researchers – and shared our points of view. Some academics in the room, for instance, have been in the subject for 40 years. They were able to say: “Well actually, we’ve already got research on this topic” – a simple but powerful example of how getting together allowed us to push the issue forward. Likewise, the teachers were able to share their practitioner-led research and how this had improved their teaching and their students’ learning.
During the round table discussions, some of the civil servants were upfront about the fact that D&T had been a bit of a mystery to them. They told me they now felt much more confident returning to their organisations to shape D&T education policy. It was great to break down boundaries between the academic, teaching and policymaking communities. After the subject leads left, the teachers and academics got together to thrash out some ideas to keep the momentum going.