How to Make a School Maker Faire

Make has provided advice and guidance on how to set up your own school-based Maker Faire. They are providing this support and the allied licensing to use the Maker Faire name, logos etc. for free, subject to some restrictions that ensure that a School Maker Faire and other types of Maker Faire are clearly distinguished.

If you wish to pursue this idea, firstly I’d be really interested to hear about it. Secondly, I’m up for providing what support and advice I can based on three years of helping produce the Manchester Mini Maker Faire. Thirdly, especially if you are within reasonable striking distance of Manchester, I can offer to help by running an all-age soldering workshop.

Consultation for new D&T GCSE

The consultation for GCSE D&T for first teaching in September 2017 is now open. You can find the new content from the DfE and the consultation document here. You can find the Ofqual consultation document here. The deadline for both responses is 26th August 2015 5.00 pm. So there is some time to consider your response.

Torben and David will be blogging their thoughts in the not too distant future.

Embedding STEM in the curriculum for ALL secondary school students

The Connecting STEM Teachers celebration event today (9 July) featured excellent presentations from teachers and students showing just what ‘blended’ STEM can achieve. The benefits of the interaction between science, mathematics and design & technology were clear for all to see. But, and it’s a big but, nearly all the examples were concerned with extra-curricular activities. In no way do I want to rain on Dominic Nolan’s parade here, his Connecting STEM Teachers Project is absolutely top notch but to impact on large numbers of students STEM needs to operate in the mainstream curriculum. Easier said than done some say but there are ways to achieve this and enhance attainment across the piece without disrupting the timetable. This is explained at length in Teaching STEM in the Secondary School Helping Teachers meet the challenge. What emerged at the celebration event was the impact of the EBacc on the KS4 option structure. It’s here that we need to focus our attention so that the offering to students encourages and enables those who are taking three sciences to also take design & technology. Option choice structures that facilitate this need to be developed and disseminated so that STEM in the main stream can become a reality rather than a wish. As always comments welcome.

BACC for the Future: new petition

bacc_skyscraperThe BACC for the Future campaign has relaunched in response to the Government announcement that it will be compulsory for all pupils starting secondary school this September to take the full suite of EBacc subjects at GCSE; schools that do not comply will no longer be able to be graded as outstanding.

The details of how this will be implemented will be the subject of a consultation in the Autumn, but now is a good time to let the government know that this is a flawed idea – and you can do this by signing the BACC for the Future petition.

As the campaign notes:

  • This excludes creative subjects from school accountability measures and harms the place of creative subjects in schools.

  • There is no published evidence to support the choice of subjects included in the EBacc.

  • Creative subjects are educationally and economically valuable and are valued by the British public.

Clearly this proposal poses a huge risk to D&T as a subject (along with other non-EBacc subjects) by threatening to severely limit the number of pupils able to choose it as a GCSE option.

[PS: it’s worth noting that the D&T Association is supporting this campaign.]

Computational Thinking for Educators

Computational Thinking for Educators is a free online course from Google running from July 15 – September 30, 2015. Further information is in this blog post.

As the video below emphasises, this is a course for teachers of all subjects not just computing teachers:

This seems to me to be a useful opportunity for D&T teachers to catch up with what computational thinking is and how it can be used across the curriculum – and to start to explore how it might inform practice in D&T.