The design technology curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas.
We want to equip them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the design technology National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Each year group has a food based topic and two technical, practical topics allowing the children the opportunity to design and make, evaluate and test out their ideas, evaluating their products and work of others. We encourage the use of our school environment where possible to enhance our food based topics. For example, we have a garden where the children frequently visit, cultivate and harvest what they grow every year. Vegetables are used as part of our cookery lessons where possible. Early years grow potatoes, carrots, peas, lettuce, runner beans and strawberries. They regularly bake cakes, biscuits, soups and pizzas. They make play dough weekly. Classes where possible enrich their topics through cooking. Year 1 enjoy following a recipe to make gingerbread people when they look at traditional tales. Year 5 have an Ancient Greek Day sampling a range of traditional Greek food. Year 4 have a European Food Day. Health and nutrition underpin everything we do.
We want our children to use the vibrancy of our great city to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the design technology curriculum. For example, when Year 1 look at the Queen and Royal family in History we have a ‘garden party’ with strawberries and a Victoria sponge cake that the children couldn’t wait to take the recipe home!
We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. For example, Nursery enjoy an annual trip to the Pumpkin patch and make delicious soup afterwards. Year 1 undertake a field trip around our local area exploring bridges before they design and make their own. Throughout KS1 and 2 where possible we work closely with our feeder schools and form strong links using their specialist teachers and equipment. We use local volunteers and Mrs Harkin, our school cook, loves to share her cookie and bread making skills with the KS2 children. We firmly believe that it is not just about what happens in the classroom, it is about the added value we offer to really inspire our children.
The design and technology curriculum in St Elizabeth’s has been carefully built around the learning opportunities and assessment milestones for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. For example, the way design technology is taught at our school has been revamped and now follows a consistent structure. Each year group has a textile, food and mechanism focus. Initially, pupils take inspiration from design throughout history to help generate ideas for designs. They explore and practise the practical skills involved in the topic and then design, make, evaluate and refine their final products. Pupils work is displayed in individual DT books that document the design, make and evaluate cycle, which show clear progression across the key stages as they are passed up through each year group. Each class completes a topic per term.
Design technology subject specific characteristics, which we expect the children to demonstrate, have been developed and shared with all stakeholders. These characteristics underpin all work in DT and provide a common subject specific vocabulary for staff and pupils. These characteristics are:
- Significant levels of originality and the willingness to take creative risks to produce innovative ideas and prototypes.
- An excellent attitude to learning and independent working and passion for the subject and knowledge of, up-to-date technological innovations in materials, products and systems.
- The ability to use time efficiently and work constructively and productively with others.
- The ability to carry out thorough research, show initiative and ask questions to develop an exceptionally detailed knowledge of users’ needs.
- The ability to act as responsible designers and makers, working ethically, using finite materials carefully and working safely.
- A thorough knowledge of which tools, equipment and materials to use to make their products.
- The ability to apply mathematical knowledge.
- The ability to manage risks exceptionally well to manufacture products safely and hygienically.
Alongside the co-ordinator, staff develop year group specific long-term curriculum maps which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of subjects are taught discretely but staff make meaningful links across subjects. They link prior knowledge to new learning to deepen children’s learning. The design process should be rooted in real life, relevant contexts to give meaning to learning. For example, Year 1 thoroughly enjoy a walk around our local area studying bridges and the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel prior to designing their own bridges.
Our short-term plans are produced on a weekly and daily basis. We use these to set out the learning objectives for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.
We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught, to alter their long-term memory and thus improve the rates of progress they make.
We use both formative and summative assessment information in design and technology lessons. This is collected through direct observation, discussion with pupils and pupil self-assessment opportunities. Staff use this information to inform their short-term planning allowing staff to implement support were necessary. We ensure that SEND, disadvantaged and more able children are given as much support as possible to reach their full potential in every lesson. Key skills have been carefully allocated to year groups to ensure progression across key stages
Our staff use design and technology formative assessment grids to systematically assess what the children know as the topic progresses and inform their future planning. These formative assessment grids then inform summative assessment judgements for each topic. A ‘best fit’ judgement is then recorded at the end of the school year.
Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in design technology. A comprehensive monitoring cycle is developed at the beginning of each academic year. This identifies when monitoring is undertaken. Monitoring in design and technology includes: DT book scrutinies, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice.
Ultimately we hope that our children as designer’s will develop skills and attributes they can use beyond school and into adulthood. Children learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens.