Back in July, I covered the news that the UK government was looking to upgrade the national curriculum, with plans included to introduce 3D printing as standard. Now, gratifyingly, in a move that seems to back this up, the Department for Education in the UK has revealed further plans, specifically by allocating funds (£500k) to expand on a trial initiative by enabling up to 60 schools across the UK to buy 3D printers and consumables, and, even more notably than that, train the teachers accordingly.
The ultimate aim is to promote and encourage the uptake of STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects.
Education Secretary Michael Gove commenting on the programme, said: “3D printers are revolutionising manufacturing and it is vital that we start teaching the theory and practice in our schools. Teaching schools will be able to develop and spread effective methods to do this. Combined with our introduction of a computer science curriculum and teacher training, this will help our schools give pupils valuable skills.”
Of course, there was a report published ahead of the decision. This identified that to date, 3D printing had been somewhat restricted to D&T in most schools, however, there is “considerable potential for [3D printing] to be used within a range of STEM subjects” that could be linked.
David Jeremy, Head of Design and Technology at Settlebeck High School in Sedbergh, Cumbria, summed up a great deal of direct feedback from teachers that already have 3D printers in their schools when he said: “All the pupils who have been involved with the 3D printer so far have been inspired by its possibilities. The opportunity to realise a concept or idea quickly into a 3D product is an incredibly powerful teaching tool.”