Response to DfE consultation on D&T GCSE content (part 2)


Part 1 of this series of posts focused on the general questions at the beginning of the consultation document and then on the content of the Technical Knowledge and Understanding section of the content. In this second post we’ll consider the Designing and making principles section of the content.


  1. Is the revised GCSE content in design and technology appropriate? Please consider:
  • Whether the amount of content in the qualification is appropriate and, if not, whether you have any suggestions for removing or adding content

The content of Section 9,  the Designing and making principles, is appropriate but would benefit from being organised in a more coherent way. Later we suggest some rephrasing. The content provided by the DfE Consultation document is a list of 16 features. The following categorisation uses four overarching themes to organise the content in a conceptually logical manner: generating design ideas, developing and communicating design ideas, making design ideas, appraising the final prototype or product. Note also the content should be numbered as opposed to using indistinguishable bullet points. This categorization should enable the Assessment Objectives to be written with more detail and precision.

9 GCSE specifications in design and technology must require students to:

1 Generating design ideas

1.1 Understand that all design and technological practice takes place within contexts which inform outcomes

1.2 Identify and understand client and user needs through the collection of primary and secondary data

1.3 Demonstrate an ability to write at least one design brief and at least one specification from their own consideration of human needs, wants and interests, and from those identified by others

1.4 Investigate factors, such as social and economic challenges, in order to identify opportunities and constraints that influence the processes of designing and making

Developing and communicating design ideas

2.1 Explore and develop their ideas, test, critically analyse and evaluate their work in order to inform their decision making

2.2 Use different design strategies, such as collaboration, user-centred design and systems thinking, to generate initial ideas and avoid design fixation

2.3 Develop, communicate, record and justify design ideas, applying suitable techniques, for example: formal and informal 2D and 3D drawing; system and schematic diagrams; annotated sketches; exploded diagrams; models; presentations; written notes; working drawings; schedules; audio and visual recordings; mathematical modelling; computer-based tools

3 Making design ideas

3.1 Select and work with appropriate materials and components in order to produce at least one prototype and at least one product. In doing so, demonstrate an understanding of the physical and working properties of materials; the source and origin of materials; and the ecological and social footprint of materials

3.2 Use appropriate and accurate marking out methods including: measuring and use of reference (and datum) points, lines and surfaces; use templates, jigs and/or patterns; work within tolerances; understand efficient cutting and how to minimise waste

3.3 Use specialist tools and equipment appropriate to the materials used (including hand tools, machinery, digital design and manufacture) to create a specific effect.

3.4 Understand and use specialist techniques and processes to shape, fabricate, construct and assemble high quality prototypes and/or products, including techniques such as wastage/subtraction; addition; moulding (deforming and reforming) and combination as appropriate

3.5 Understand and use appropriate surface treatments and finishes for functional and aesthetic purposes

4 Appraising the final prototype or product

4.1 Make informed and reasoned decisions, respond to feedback about their own prototypes and/or products (and those of others) to identify the potential for further development and suggest how modifications could be made

4.2 Design and develop at least one product that respond to needs and/or wants and is fit for purpose, demonstrating functionality, aesthetics, innovation

SUGGESTED RE-PHRASINGS

To Designing and making principles Point 9

1.3 Demonstrate an ability to write at least one design brief and at least one specification from their own consideration of human needs, wants and interests, and from those identified by others

Should be rephrased as

1.3 Be able to write design briefs and related specifications that take into account a consideration of human needs, wants and interests

In order to avoid the writing of the brief and the specification being unrelated to one another, and being seen as a single once only activity

3.1 Select and work with appropriate materials and components in order to produce at least one prototype and at least one product. In doing so, demonstrate an understanding of the physical and working properties of materials; the source and origin of materials; and the ecological and social footprint of materials

Should be rephrased as

3.1 Select and work with appropriate materials and components in order to produce at least one prototype and/or product. In doing so, demonstrate an understanding of the physical and working properties of materials; the source and origin of materials; and the ecological and social footprint of materials

Because both products and prototypes can be the endpoint of a student’s work. Some students may wish or need to make a prototype as a precursor to a final product, but this should not be a requirement. For some students the end result of designing and making will be a prototype and this can be justified in various ways, including technical complexity, the cost or inaccessibility of appropriate (e.g. medical grade) materials, size etc. It is important not to restrict the ambition or creativity of students with an insistence on a ‘finished’ product.

Part 3 of this series of posts has now also been published examining the first appendix which outlines Links to Mathematics and Science.

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