While we are all waiting with bated breath as to the outcome of the consultation with the DfE over the programme of study for D&T I’m minded to point up the existence of a very useful document from Education for Engineering (E4E). Entitled New Principles for Design & Technology in the National Curriculum the document takes the position that D&T is not a vocational subject but a general academic subject and has its own fundamental body of knowledge, principles and concepts which are not provided elsewhere in the curriculum. The document adopts a toolkit approach and the tool box is split into four groups: Design, Technology, Critique and Data. Thus the tool kit presents an overarching set of concepts and principles that can be applied to any aspect of D&T regardless of the medium in which the pupils are working. Using key concepts and principles, the intention is that this approach will create a shift in emphasis from teaching separate sub-disciplines to a more coherent curriculum for D&T. This ‘bodies of knowledge’ approach is applicable to primary and secondary schools, but the contents of this document are specifically relevant to KS3.
I have to acknowledge some bias here as I am one of the authors of the document but I think it would be well worth downloading the document and see what this approach might do for the D&T curriculum in your school.