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7 MARCH 2024

The survey and report were designed, collated, and written by Dawn Foxall and Roy Ballam.

Unravelling the fabric of Textiles Education – Where Next?

As the landscape of education continues to evolve, the Textiles Skills Centre unveils its latest report, Unravelling the Fabric of Textiles Education – Where next? shedding light on the current status and potential future direction of textiles education in schools.

Since 2014, textiles education has primarily been taught within Design and Technology (D&T) in the National Curriculum for Key Stages 1 to 3. However, recent trends indicate a shift towards teaching textiles through Art & Design, and more generally there have been raising concerns about the diminishing status of textiles education.

Through research encompassing expert groups, surveys, and stakeholder engagement, the Textiles Skills Centre sought to gauge the pulse of textiles education. Key findings reveal a demand for updated subject content, clearer progression pathways, and a reinvigorated promotion of the value of textiles education.

To read the full report:

What’s happening now?
  • Primary school pupils get around 30 hours of textiles education over six years.
  • Secondary schools allocate 53 hours (on average) for textiles over Key Stage 3.
  • Pupils express a keen interest in textiles lessons and desire more engagement.
  • There a change happening at GCSE level, with a shift from D&T to Art & Design.
What would teachers and pupils like in the future?
  • Keep textiles in D&T at Key Stage 1 to 3.
  • Update subject content, delivery, and timetabling, showing clear progression.
  • Make textiles at GCSE more relevant and specific.
  • Define and promote the value of textiles education.

Recommendations for the future

Based on the work with schools, as well as discussions with experts, the Textiles Skills Centre recommends:

  1. Conduct a deep dive into primary textiles: Gather information on the teaching of textiles at KS1 and 2 in UK primary schools.
  2. Consult on secondary content and teaching approaches: With the textiles teaching community, seek to outline core content for textiles, with assessment strategies, appropriate teaching strategies, and the strengths and weaknesses of different timetabling models.
  3. Develop a clear understanding of textiles education: With a cross-section of stakeholders, develop a clear understanding of the rationale, purpose, and content of textiles education. Showcase what it comprises, showing breadth of coverage, with pedagogical, technological, cultural and sustainability aspects.
  4. Discuss GCSE options: Teacher feedback and pupil voice should be acknowledged, with the acceptance of the practical challenges ahead of any change. Any GCSE offer, whether changes to current specifications or development of new specifications, needs to be discussed with all stakeholders, including Awarding Organisations, higher education, and employers.
  5. Ensure teacher subject knowledge: Based on having a clear understanding of textiles education from 5-16 years (see recommendation 3), CPD needs to be offered to support primary and secondary teachers embracing any change, as well as being competent with subject content.
  6. Promote textiles education: Develop a promotional campaign to highlight the rationale, benefits, and value of textiles education in schools.


Dawn Foxall, Founder of the Textiles Skills Centre said:

“It is without doubt that if we lose textiles as a subject in our schools, we lose life skills we didn’t know we needed. We lose the ability to create, make and discover the techniques required to make something unique; make mistakes and realise new methods and ideas; practice fine motor skills and dexterity needed for sewing up a wound or working with fine tools; applications of maths and science to develop new fibres and fabrics to support sports, medicine and space; the patience and persistence to follow a project through to an end product; an undeniable aid to supporting mental health; understanding climate change and the circular economy; the need to reduce the amount of textiles going to landfill (300,000 tonnes per year in the UK), by becoming more confident in repair, recycle and reuse of clothing and textile items… We can’t lose textiles in our education system.”

Unravelling the Fabric of Textiles Education – Where Next? presents a roadmap for revitalizing textiles education, ensuring its continued relevance and prominence in the UK educational landscape.

The Textiles Skills Centre would like to thank the All Saints Educational Trust for the educational grant to undertake this work.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Dawn Foxall, Founder, Textiles Skills Centre info@textileskillscentre.com

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