Books for D&T teachers!

A recent post on the Design and Technology Teachers Facebook asked for suggestions concerning books for A level D&T students as monies were available from the library fund. Good news, books for students are always welcome. I suggested that some of the funds might be spent on books for teachers. This was well received so here’s my list of books for the department library.

Ascent of ManThe Ascent of Man, by Jacob Bronowski, published in 1973. Although over 40 years old, with quote such as “The hand is the cutting edge of the mind” this still provides one of the best rationales for the teaching of D&T.

 

 

technopoly-the-surrender-of-culture-to-technology1Technopoly The surrender of culture to technology, by Neil Postman, published in 1993. The rational for education, according to Postman, is that it is not child centred, not training centred, not skill centred, not even problem centred. It is idea centred and coherence centred. It is an excellent corrective to the anti-historical, information saturated technology loving character of Technopoly.

 

Nature of TechnologyThe Nature of Technology What it is and how it evolves, by W Brian Arthur, published in 2009. Arthur makes a persuasive case for technology making its greatest strides through the understanding and exploitation of phenomenon that have been revealed, explored and explained by science

 

 

Homo DeusHomo Deus A brief history of tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari, published in 2015. Taking the current and likely future achievements of science and technology Harari describes the challenges that will face society as we develop powers completely beyond any we have had so far with the prospect of creating new life forms both digital and biological and even cheating death.

 

 

The-Glass-CageThe Glass Cage Where automation is taking us, by Nicholas Carr, published in 2015. Carr argues that the current trend for technology to make things easier, friction free, requiring less effort is counterproductive and leads to a diminishing of what it means to be human and human endeavours. How we develop and engage with technology so that it requires effort has implications for teaching.

 

Human PlanetThe Human Planet How we created the Anthropocene, by Simon Lewis & Mark Maslin, published in 2018. For Lewis and Maplin the writing is on the wall for the human race and our life on this planet as we know it. The evidence which they provide for human activity changing the way the planet is behaving is highly convincing and being reinforced almost on a weekly basis by further reports from the scientific community. Crucial that young people understand this and are not deceived by the climate change deniers.

 

Synthetics AgeThe Synthetic Age, by Christopher J Preston, published in 2018. Preston echoes Harari in arguing that humans are moving from being caretakers of the Earth to being shapers of it through the new and emerging technologies that provide us with powers that previously had been the province of Nature. He asks who should we trust to decide the contours of our synthetic future? He suggests it is too important to be left to the engineers!

 

As always, comments welcome.

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STEM SURVEY

We have developed a survey to explore the range of views of different stakeholders about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The survey enables those in teaching, initial teacher education, CPD and research to give their views as to the nature, place, purpose and worth of STEM in the school curriculum. We intend to report on the data in one or more papers submitted to research conferences and/or journals and it will also be used to inform the revisions for Edition 2 of “Teaching STEM in the Secondary School” by David Barlex and Frank Banks.

We will also publish a summary of the main findings here on our blog. We have designed the survey so that it is likely to take less than 20 minutes to complete.

You can find the survey here

We hope that you can find the time to respond and please do pass on the link to colleagues with an interest in STEM

As always comments welcome

Food A-Level Content Survey

From Marion Rutland:

I and Angela Turner (from Australia) are co-editing the book “Food Education and Food Technology in School Curricula – International Perspectives” for Springer Education and we have invited a wide range of international authors with a specific interest in the teaching of food in schools to write the different chapters.

As part of this project, I am writing a chapter about progression in food education in the English school curriculum. The chapter focuses on the current loss of a food related A-Level course providing access into higher education courses for pupils interested in food as a pathway to a range of careers such as nutrition, dietetics, nursing, the health related professions, teaching and the food industry.

To inform this chapter I have created a survey asking for views on what the content of such an A-level should be. Some colleagues have already responded to a paper version of this survey; many thanks if you have already responded to that.

However, I would very much appreciate additional responses from a wider audience to strengthen the focus of the research on a key issue that will help consolidate and support the future of food teaching in schools. To this end, there is now an online version of the survey available:

If you are interested in the future of food at A-level, please do contribute your thoughts via the survey – and if you know of others with similar interests, please send them a link to this post or direct them straight to the survey.

I do hope that the task is not too onerous and look forward to receiving your responses.

Electric cars and meat as a treat – what is the world coming to?

sr15_cover_placeholderThe latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides stark warning about the impact of climate change as these extracts from the summary for policy makers indicate

  • A1. Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warmingabove pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence)
  • B5. Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.
  • C2. Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems (high confidence). These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant up-scaling of investments in those options (medium confidence).

Clearly they are making no bones about it. We have to change our ways or the human race will suffer.  Planet Earth will survive even if we humans don’t. We need Planet Earth far more than Planet Earth needs us. If we do not mend our ways the Planet will become more and more inhospitable. There will be a few who will be able literally, to ride out the storm because of their extreme wealth giving a safe haven for those who are employed to maintain their safety and security in artificially constructed environments. But for the majority of humans the prospects look bleak. What can be done? Well there may be some light on the horizon.

4 blogThe government has indicated that a ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles should begin in 2040 but some MPs have argued that this should be brought forward by eight years to 2032. A report Electric Vehicles: Driving the transition from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee said the government’s deeds did not match the ambitions of its words calling the government’s current plans to ensure all new cars are “effectively zero emission” by 2040 “vague and unambitious”. In addition, it called for plans to slash subsidies for less-polluting vehicles “perverse”. The report is long and detailed as is to be expected but the summary, just under three pages, makes excellent reading for teachers and students of science and D&T at both KS4 and KS5. The BBC covers the issues well. And the way the electricity is generated is key and that too must change. As electric cars become more and more ubiquitous the country’s ability to generate electricity will need to increase to provide the energy that was once provided by petrol and diesel.

And it doesn’t end with electric cars. It’s well established that rearing livestock generates lots of methane which contributes to global warming and the removal of large areas of forest to create grazing land adds to the problem as it diminishes the planet’s ability to remove CO2through photosynthesis. The BBC covered this in a piece on its news website entitled Is meat’s climate impact too hot for politicians? The item reported that the climate minister Claire Perry has told BBC News it is not the government’s job to advise people on a climate-friendly diet. She said: “I like lots of local meat. I don’t think we should be in the business of prescribing to people how they should run their diets.” When asked whether the Cabinet should set an example by eating less beef (which has most climate impact), she said: “I think you’re describing the worst sort of Nanny State ever. Who would I be to sit there advising people in the country coming home after a hard day of work to not have steak and chips?… Please…”Ms Perry refused even to say whether she agreed with scientists’ conclusions that meat consumption needed to fall. When in the past we have been faced with a serious crisis the government has intervened. The government didn’t think it was a nanny state approach to provide advice and guidance that helped people understand the AIDS epidemic and change their behaviour accordingly. The possibility of a global AIDS epidemic which we faced towards the end of the last century pales into insignificance when compared to the environmental crisis we now face with regard to global warming. So I hope that the climate minister changes her view.

So what’s all this got to do with design & technology? This quote from the Parke’s report which laid out the foundations for the subject in the National Curriculum is very telling, the last sentence in particular

1.14 Much of what we have considered so far about the contribution of design and technology to the school curriculum is based on the assumption that pupils will actively engage in the processes of design and technology. Our view is that such practical involvement is fundamental to an education of this kind. There is, however, an additional dimension to consider and this entails critical reflection upon and appraisal of the social and economic results of design and technological activities beyond the school. Our terms of reference refer to pupils being able to ‘appreciate the importance of design and technology in society, historically and present day, particularly as it affects the economy’. Understanding of technological change and of the ways in which it is restructuring the workplace and influencing life styles is a crucial aspect of an education in design and technology. The consequences of technological change are profound and pervasive. Furthermore, technological revolutions are irreversible; no technological change can be uninvented after it has taken place. We need to understand design and technology, therefore, not only to solve practical problems, to invent, optimise and realise solutions, but also so that we can acquire a sense of its enormous transformatory power. Used wisely, they bring new and worthwhile goals within reach. By the end of the period of compulsory education pupils should have some understanding of the value options and decisions that have empowered the technological process in the past and which are doing so today.

The implications are clear: plenty of designing and making but that alone will be insufficient; a consideration of technology and its consequences is also necessary. So an interesting question is how might a teacher relate some designing and making to considering the consequences of technology? Designing and making a working model of an electric car for the future might be a starting point with associated case study reading and discussion about climate change and why a change to electric cars might be important. This approach to curriculum design that links technological capability (through designing and making) to technological perspective (through considering the consequences of technology) might be worth adopting as each activity could reinforce the other.

One of opportunities in considering the consequences of technology in the context of global warming and climate change is to introduce new and emerging technologies that might play a part in undoing the damage caused by previous technologies, in this case the internal combustion engine and the automobile. And that brings us back to the IPCC report. One new and emerging technology noted in the IPCC report is that of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). This isn’t a new and emerging technology usually considered in design & technology but in current circumstances it might be worthwhile and it would provide the opportunity to develop links with the science curriculum. The IPCC report indicates that this technology alone to reduce CO2emissions would be inadequate but it does have a part to play. And the article in this week’s New Scientist about Enhanced Geothermal Systems Technology indicates that other new technology options are becoming available. Perhaps ‘technology can save us’ after all although it won’t be easy with international politics having a large role to play. The contrast between the position of the British Government informed and to some extent berated by the work of the cross party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committeeis in stark contrast to that of the Trump administration in the US and the changing role of its Environmental Protection Agency. The rationale for design & technology often centres on the needs of the economy but it seems to me there is an equal, if not more important reason for its place in the curriculum – educating our young people to be active in supporting our government’s environmental efforts in both what we do in our country and in influencing the efforts of other countries. In short our subject has a role in preparing young people to be responsible global citizens.

As always comments welcome

 

Three more cheers for Amanda Spielman

  •  I must admit to being an Amanda Spielman fan. Her latest speech delivered 11 October 2018 in no way diminishes my admiration. I downloaded the text as delivered and went through highlighting what I thought were key comments. I was spoiled for choice. Here are a few:
  • Inspection and regulation are essential to well-run public services. But if they are done in the wrong way, they can do more harm than good. That is why the test of being a force for improvement is so important.
  • I want to make sure that at Ofsted, we focus on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’: the essence of what performance tables cannot capture. This will let us reward schools for doing the right thing by their pupils.
  • We want to know what is being taught and how schools are achieving a good education, not just what the results are looking like.
  • The cumulative impact of performance tables and inspections and the consequences that are hung on them has increased the pressure on school leaders, teachers and indirectly on pupils to deliver perfect data above all else.
  • But we know that focusing too narrowly on test and exam results can often leave little time or energy for hard thinking about the curriculum, and in fact can sometimes end up making a casualty of it.
  • focus on performance data is coming at the expense of what is taught in schools.
  • This next one is my favourite – I don’t know a single teacher who went into teaching to get the perfect progress 8 score. They go into it because they love what they teach and want children to love it too. That is where the inspection conversation should start and with the new framework, we have an opportunity to do just that.
  • And it will make it easier for secondary schools to do the right thing, offering children a broad range of subjects and encouraging the take-up of core EBacc subjects such as the humanities and languages at GCSE, alongside the arts and creative subjects.
  • So to conclude: I‘ve used the word ‘conversation’ a number of times in this speech. The nature and impact of the conversations in an inspection are fundamental. As we shape the new framework, with your help, we really are thinking about how each inspection can be the most productive exchange between a school and its inspection team: how we can make it about substance, more than about numbers.

You can read the entire speech here

I think it’s important for inspectors to get an accurate gestalt impression of any school they are visiting. What is it about the way the school does things that impacts on its curriculum offering? Discussing the following questions at the start of the inspection conversation help build up such an impression.

  • How do you use time in different ways in your curriculum?
  • How do you use teams of teachers in developing and teaching your curriculum?
  • How do you acquire and develop resources, both physical and intellectual, that are appropriate for your curriculum
  • How do you develop and sustain relationships that enable your pupils to be successful and enjoy their learning?

There are of course many different and quite appropriate answers to these questions. They are dependent on the vision for the school and its local community. But it is easy for schools to follow well-trodden paths that meet performance criteria without questioning prevailing practice when such practice could be significantly improved by considering such questions. It takes bravery from SLT to buck the ‘it ain’t broke so don’t fix it’ management bias. And it takes inspirational and supportive leadership to enable teachers to take the risks inevitable in curriculum change.

Amanda looked back at the past as this quote shows: From the 1990s through to the mid-noughties, inspections consisted of large teams of inspectors visiting schools for a full week, with a full range of subject expertise, making it possible to review individual subjects in depth. … – I am not standing here thinking that hordes of schools are lining up at our door, demanding the return ofweek-long inspections.

I agree with that last point but I do wonder about what has been lost through the lack of subject-focused inspections. Might it not be possible to have some subject focused inspections by inspectors expert in those subjects? Some subjects are struggling to do well in many schools in terms of uptake at KS4 and performance in comparison with other subjects. D&T is an example. Wouldn’t looking at D&T in a range of schools, some bucking the trend and doing well, others underperforming and some in the middle, provide a picture which all schools could use to improve the learning that goes on in the subject and its status? Such inspections could be framed as research exercises.

And returning to my four ‘gestalt’ questions this time with regard to D&T.

  • Are you able to use time in different ways for D&T? The occasional whole day working on the GCSE contextual challenge would provide interesting opportunities for pupils to engage in depth.
  • To what extent are you able to use a team approach in devising, planning and teaching your D&T curriculum? Do such teams have to be fixed, with set roles or can there be flexibility?
  • The intellectual resource in your department is probably the most valuable and it is locked up in the staff. Their knowledge, skill and understanding is crucial for the curriculum. How do you ensure that this is maintained and enhanced, especially when there is such concern about physical resources?
  • And relationships – how do you ensure that each of the stakeholders (parents, pupils, teachers, TAs, technicians, SLT, governors) has a voice that is listened to, considered, discussed and acted upon?

I’ll finish with a favourite quote from Neil Postman writing in 1996  (The End of Education: Redefining the value of school) that I believe will appeal to Amanda and is in the spirit of the reforms she has spoken about.

[S]omething can be done in school that will alter the lenses through which one sees the world; which is to say, that non-trivial schooling can provide a point of view from which what is can be seen clearly, what was as a living present, and what will be as filled with possibility. . . . What this means is that at its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from making a living. Such an enterprise is not easy to pursue, since politicians rarely speak of it, our technology is indifferent to it, and our commerce despises it. Nevertheless, it is the weightiest and most important thing to write about. (p. x)

As always comments welcome

Designing a D&T Curriculum from a Big Ideas starting point

In my last post I wrote that I would describe how a department might devise a D&T curriculum starting with a knowledge base of Big Ideas. So here goes … The Big Ideas can be summarise by the following diagram.

figure-1

These are discussed in more detail here but suffice it to say here that any curriculum you devise will need to teach about materials that we use to create artefacts, systems and environments, manufacturing processes by which we can manipulate materials, functionality through which we enable what we design to work effectively, design through which we use our knowledge and understanding of materials, manufacture and functionality to develop outcomes of value and critique through which we interrogate the worth and impact of these outcomes. And this all has to be done with regard to the fundamental nature of the subject. There are lots of other worthwhile endeavours that have similarities to design & technological activity; devising experiments to test hypotheses in science, or composing music, or writing an essay for example. Although these can to some extent be considered ‘designing’ their prime purpose is not to ‘intervene in the made or natural worlds’ which is the hallmark of design & technological activity. So where does one start. One way is to consider the sorts learning activities through which the Big Ideas might be taught that would be appropriate during each term of KS3. In general terms these activities are making without designing, designing without making, designing and making and considering the consequences of technology. It is likely that your department will have some of these activities already in place and that their sequence defines to some extent the progression in the curriculum. So the next step is to audit these activities with regard to the extent they teach the Big Ideas. It is almost certain that you will find gaps. These can be remedied in three ways. First devising improvements to existing activities. Second removing activities that do not provide sufficient learning opportunities. Third developing new activities. This process is of course iterative. The department will discuss both the sequence of the activities and the nature of each activity making changes to both until a sequence emerges that has the potential to teach across the range of Big Idea during KS3 in preparation for KS4. It is unlikely that you will get this ‘right’ at the first attempt and as with all design tasks there will be several acceptable solutions. As an end result you will want a curriculum that maximises the breadth, depth and progression of the learning and reflects the nature of design & technology.

Here is what a year 7 curriculum might look like. It will almost certainly not be right for your department or your students but it does show the sort of curriculum that the thinking outlined above can produce

Term 1

Making without designing: construct, fly & investigate a kite

Making with some designing: exploring the use of low relief vacuum forming

Together these require learning about the following Big Ideas: materials, manufacture, and functionality (in terms of structure)

Term 2

Designing without making including considering the consequences of technology using a new & emerging technology, possibly QTC

Designing and making concerning containing  Design and make a container that can be formed from one or two nets and will hold one or two favourite small items safely and that, from its appearance, reflects the importance and nature of the contents.

Note the DMA will contain small tasks to provide learning likely to be useful for the ‘big’ task plus considering consequences case studies

Together these require learning about the following Big Ideas: materials, manufacture, functionality (in terms of structure), design and critique

Term 3

Designing and making concerning moving toys Design and make a moving toy that is powered by a small electric motor, taking into account the user of the toy and design a toy that a) moves in a way that will appeal to the user, b) has an appearance which pleases the user, c) can incorporate a range of special effects e.g. light and sound, that will give the toy more play value for the user.

Note the DMA will contain small tasks to provide learning likely to be useful for the ‘big’ task plus CC case studies

Together these require learning about the following Big Ideas: materials, manufacture, functionality, design and critique

Overall these learning activities have strong authenticity with regard to the nature of design & technology.

The process that gave rise to this year 7 curriculum can be used to devise curricula for Year 8 and Year 9. Across the three years of KS3 these should provide an experience of the subject in which there is deep, rich learning that leave pupils wanting more so that they very much want to take the subjecty at KS4. Inevitably some will not study the subject at KS4 but they will have had an introduction to deisgn & technology which will serve them in good stead and help them make sense of the technological world in wjich they live.

Of course the devil is in the detail of the learning activities and this will need to be resolved by the department working as a team to plan and implement the learning activities identified and develop the required resources. This might take place as follows.

  1. The D&T department meet to discuss the requirements of the learning activity. Through discussion the department identifies the knowledge, understanding, skills and values that will be learned through the activity. This gives the learning activity clarity. One teacher assumes the role of leader and is responsible for producing the package of core learning materials and suggestions for the next meeting. This may involve writing new materials or utilising those already within the department.
  2. At a second meeting the package is discussed and constructive criticism made. The activity leader is now in a position to produce the core set of resources which will probably include a PowerPoint presentation and materials for students (as hard copy hand outs or electronic resources on the school VLE).
  3. The involvement of the technician who will support the learning activity. The activity leader discusses the requirements with the technician (hand tools, machine tools, computing facilities, software, consumable materials, components etc.) to ensure availability and gives the technician a clear overview of the topic. The activity leader then writes the technician notes for the activity with the assurance that no impossible demands will be made.
  4. The activity leader then writes the teachers’ notes that can be used as a reference by all those who will teach the activity.
  5. At this stage it is important that all those who will teach the activity meet together to discuss the best way to use the core resources developed so far and to develop further resources to enhance the student experience. This would probably include homework assignments, case study reading, extension work suggestions, help sheets, feedback prompts, joint presentation planning. It is very important that all those teaching have the necessary expertise with the tools and equipment to be used. Those with a high level of competence and subject knowledge can act as mentors to those less familiar with the activity.
  6. During the teaching of the activity it is important that liaison is maintained with the technician so that equipment and materials are readily available throughout the activity.
  7. Assessment of various sorts will have taken place throughout the topic and at the end of the topic using evidence that has been produced by the students. All those who have taught the topic can take this evidence along with their experience of having taught the activity and evaluate its success. This serves two important functions. It allows for improvement in the next iteration of the learning activity AND it provides the basis of CPD for individual team members such that they each become more rounded design & technology teachers.

Perhaps the above seems onerous and implausible as a means of developing a design & technology curriculum. I am sure there are other approaches but whichever approach a department adopts I think it is essential that the curriculum that emerges is based on the knowledge, understanding skill and values that the students are intended to learn. When SLT observe design & technology lessons it seems quite appropriate that they should ask, “What are the pupils learning?” and “How does this learning fit into the overall learning that is taking place this term or this year?” However well behaved,  busy and on task the pupils are unless the activity can be justified in terms of learning SLT are likely to be unimpressed and critical, justifiably so in my view.

As always comments welcome.

 

 

The place of Design & Technology in a knowledge based curriculum

s216_Amanda_Spielman__1_ Amanda Spielman has produced an interesting paper based on the research Ofsted has carried out with regard to the way leaders in schools think about and construct their schools’ curricula. It involves only a small number of schools but it makes important points of relevance to the way schools should construct and implement their D&T curricula. She begins her piece by acknowledging her previous writing about the purpose of education.

… the vast, accumulated wealth of human knowledge, and what we choose to pass on to the next generation through teaching in our schools (the curriculum), must be at the heart of education.

She is critical of the curriculum narrowing the research revealed and the downward creep of GCSE success imperative leading to a truncated KS3 with pupils having to “spend their secondary education learning narrowed and shallow test content rather than broader and more in-depth content across a subject area”.

She clearly disapproves of the path that has led to this situation

The curriculum is not the timetable. Nor is it what we think might be on the exam. We all have to ask ourselves how we have created a situation where second-guessing the test can trump the pursuit of real, deep knowledge and understanding of subjects.

By interviewing curriculum leaders in the schools the research identified three curriculum models:

Knowledge-led approach The leaders saw the curriculum as the mastery of a body of subject-specific knowledge defined by the school. Skills were generally considered to be an outcome of the curriculum, not its purpose. Knowledge acquisition, therefore, is the aim of this type of curriculum. This often led leaders to focus on in-depth understanding of fewer topic areas.

Knowledge-engaged approach The leaders identified knowledge as focus, albeit to varying degrees and that it underpinned and enabled the application of skill. Most did not perceive a tension between knowledge and skill, and instead saw them as intertwined. Leaders tended to value both and for them the curriculum was about how they could ensure that pupils can achieve both knowledge and skill.

Skills-led curriculums The leaders considered that the curriculum should be designed around skills, learning behaviours and ‘generic knowledge’ and placed limited value on knowledge within the content of their curriculum. Knowledge was often seen as just disconnected facts. Delivering skills was the priority.

Progression is discussed in the paper and from this it appears that a useful view is that progression can be curriculum driven if curriculum has clarity with regard to the knowledge and skills it is teaching over time. Assessment both formative and summative is seen as important in revealing this progression in ways that are useful in helping pupils ‘learn better’ and teachers to make changes to the way the curriculum will be taught in the future.

Amanda is clear that the development of a good and responsive curriculum, as she and Ofsted envisage it, will require engagement from a range of stakeholders: head teachers, senior leaders, heads of faculty, heads of department and teachers. I would add pupils, as they are often very insightful as to how the teaching of a topic might be improved.

Whist acknowledging the significant importance of knowledge she is not in any way dismissive of skills.

This does not preclude the importance of skill. Knowledge and skill are intrinsically linked: skill is a performance built on what a person knows. That performance might be physical or cognitive, but skills matter and they cannot be separated from knowledge. They are, if you like, the ‘know-how’ in applying the ‘known’. Knowledge and the capacity it provides to apply skills and deepen understanding are, therefore, essential ingredients of successful curriculum design.

She acknowledges that examination results are important but insists there need be no conflict between teaching a broad, rich curriculum and achieving success in exams arguing that a well-constructed, well-taught curriculum will lead to good results because those results will be a reflection of what pupils have learned. But she also states the importance of parents knowing the substance of what their children are learning. Hence the new inspection framework, she argues, will give greater coverage of the curriculum, which, in the long run, should reverse the current incentives that come from inspection being quite so focused on outcomes.

So where does this leave D&T and those who are devising D&T curricula? I think there are four points to make

  1. Ofsted inspectors will consider the nature of the D&T curriculum and its place in the whole curriculum.
  2. It is essential that we do not conceive or promote D&T as skills based in which knowledge plays a minor role.
  3. We need to be clear as to the knowledge base that underpins D&T. Help is at hand here in the shape of a working paper produced by myself and Torben Steeg Big Ideas for Design & Technology  that describes a set of Big Ideas which can inform curriculum development.
  4. The way we assess progress in D&T must relate to the teaching intentions of the topic being taught. Some guidance is available here in the shape of two working papers: Refocusing Assessment – Design and Technology  and Assessment in Design & Technology available on this site.

In a follow up post I’ll describe how a department can devise a D&T curriculum starting with a knowledge base of Big Ideas.

As always comments welcome