Why are we teaching a knowledge-rich curriculum; how is it different?
In Design and Technology we recognise that knowledge must exist as the foundation for creative and innovative design ideas to be built upon. Our Key Stage 3 projects are designed with knowledge as the starting point for any idea development. Within the PSHE curriculum, we engage pupils with important Design and Technology conversations regarding energy sources, sustainability and product life cycle analysis. This is enhanced with practical experiences of recycling plastic for reuse with our shredder and heat press.
Why are we teaching this content?
We recognise that pupils have varied experiences of Design and Technology at KS2 and that often, the projects they may do, are more traditional in style. We favour contemporary project themes that we believe are relatable for pupils and, importantly, offer real world design scenarios.
For Key Stage 3 we begin by focusing on Graphic Design and explore how a brand can be applied to multiple product outcomes with pupils using computer aided design and manufacture to make record sleeves and screen print t-shirts. Some smart materials are introduced at the end of the project as we look at materials like thermochromic ink as anti-fraud elements to be featured in products like festival tickets. We progress on to develop manufacturing skills, teaching workshop safety, accurate marking out and cutting. Tool uses and material properties are the knowledge that we consider to be foundational to the pupils prototyping and realising design ideas in the coming years. By Year 9 we increase the attention on research and underpinning design ideas with appropriate investigation. Ergonomic design is the main focus of the project and so Anthropometric data is an important element to the investigation as well as methodical material testing before this knowledge is applied in an iterative cycle of ideas, prototyping and evaluation. We give real world examples of the iterative process leading to success, with James Dyson (originally from Cromer) famous for having gone through 5,127 prototypes before making the successful vacuum design that has since made his fortune.
Once pupils have chosen to continue on their journey with Design and Technology into KS4, we look to make the most of increased contact time. We work through projects which introduce new subject knowledge and further introduce new skills whilst aiming to revisit and reinforce both skills and knowledge covered in KS3.
Why are we teaching it in this order?
Our projects are sequenced to progress pupils thinking towards designing for someone else rather than themselves. We aim to promote a user-centred design process that pushes pupils to think empathetically and gather together appropriate information to make designing for someone else possible.
What do pupils need to remember and be able to do in this subject?
We expect pupils to remember materials and their properties as well as safe ways of working with them. We expect them to be able to explore ideas and generate making skills that support effective prototyping. It is essential that pupils develop an understanding that design processes are a journey of informed trial and error. We don’t want pupils continuing to think that their first idea is their best idea and the Year 9 project is designed to enforce that message.
We want our pupils to probe and interrogate in a curious manner: why is this shaped like this? Why is this the correct material? Why can’t this be made in a different way? Why am I making it this size? These questions are answered through knowledge, investigation, experimentation and testing and these answers should underpin all design decisions. Design and Technology does not allow you to be passive in your thinking; you must engage and think critically about everything to be successful.
What methods do we use to help pupils secure this knowledge in long-term memory?
We use a variety of methods to help pupils retain knowledge, including quizzing, that encourage forced recall of information from earlier in projects. Pupils are guided to regularly review the learning from previous lessons. At the start of the GCSE course, revision guides are provided and pupils regularly review these in preparation for mini tests using corresponding workbooks, the themes of which are interleaved to ensure that they regularly recall knowledge. Class discussions around more open topics encourage pupils to stretch their thinking and challenge them to be simultaneously critical and creative thinkers