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Technology lessons to be more practical

THE GOVERNMENT'S decision to define technology in schools more tightly was welcomed yesterday by engineers as the 'death-knell for Mickey Mouse technology'. But it was criticised by home economics teachers who fear it will become purely a 'boys' subject'.

Baroness Blatch, Minister of State for Education, announced proposals to make technology a more practical subject taken by all children aged five to 16.

She said there had been some confusion since technology was introduced as a national curriculum subject two years ago. 'People were interpreting it that if you did cookery or business studies you were doing technology,' she told a press conference in London.

The technology curriculum has been drastically pruned in the wake of an HM Inspectors' report in June which found that 40 per cent of lessons were unsatisfactory and that the amount of time children spent making things had been reduced.

Denis Filer, director general of the Engineering Council, said the subject had been rescued as a practical/technical subject.

Professor John Eggleston, of Warwick University, vice-chairman of the Design and Technology Council, said home economics, which includes skills like infant handling and home management, was the main casualty. 'Home economics has been marginalised. All they have got now is food technology, which is very different.

'It is surprising that the Government has moved this way when its emphasis on the family has been so strong,' he said.

Technology for Ages 5 to 16 (1992): Proposals of the Secretary of State for Education and the Secretary of State for Wales, National Curriculum Council, Albion Wharf, 25 Skeldergate, York YO1 2XL.

English texts will be sent to schools next month in preparation for national testing of 600,000 14-year-olds in the summer, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, chairman of the School Examinations and Assessment Council, said yesterday in response to criticism that schools did not yet know what tests pupils would have to sit.