Design & Technology
Design and Technology is a subject that encourages creative expression, problem-solving and skills-development through the medium of woods, plastics, metals, textiles, papers and card.
The focus of the Design and Technology curriculum is to equip students with the ability to problem solve within a wide variety of contexts, with an increasing level of independence. This includes equipping young people with the ability to work out what information they need to move forward with a project and from there, what questions they need to ask and where they might look for the answers.
The ability to solve a problem or at least propose a viable solution, is only part of the role of a designer or manufacturer. Students are encouraged to express their solutions in creative ways and to consider the human and environmental factors that will make their proposal(s) more viable.
A key feature of the curriculum is the production of prototypes and final pieces, which afford students the opportunity to realise many of their ideas in 3-Dimensions and to demonstrate their attention to detail, application of quality assurance and improving practical skills.
We recognise that students have a wide range of experiences of working in a design-and-make context. This includes many students that will have very little experience of working in this way. Year 7 is a foundation year in which we take students back to the basics of form and shape, introducing key terminology, tools and materials. We do this through a range of mini projects that are focused on establishing core principles of design-and-make, knowledge and skills.
In Year 8 students build on their knowledge and skills by undertaking fewer, more challenging projects. There is an increased focus on wider influential factors such as the work of other designers and manufacturers, environmental and human factors.
In Year 9 the emphasis is consolidation and growth. Students are challenged to apply their existing knowledge, skills and understanding to projects where they are increasingly the ‘designer-maker’, developing solutions that meet the needs of others. Industrial processes form an increasing focus, as do emerging technologies and ‘smart’ materials.
Growth in Year 9 is crucial as the department looks to continue is successful retention rates for students choosing to study the subject at GCSE.
GCSE Design and Technology
The GCSE Design and Technology qualification has undergone significant change through the introduction of a more robust specification in September 2017. At The Featherstone Academy, students follow the AQA specification.
The new specification emphasises the iterative nature of design and as such, it exposes students to a more real experience of commercial and industrial practice. Combined with an increased robustness, successful students can be confident that they have secured a qualification that commercial institutions and those at Further and Higher Education levels are looking for; it is a qualification that will open doors.
The course focuses on the development of three key strands: core technical principles, specialist technical principles and design-and-making principles.
The qualification itself consists of two key elements, a Non-Examined Assessment piece which constitutes a design-and-make project comprising 40 hours’ work and an end-of-qualification written paper which tests students’ ability to apply their knowledge and understanding in exam conditions. Each element is equally weighted, contributing 50% of the overall qualification.
Students that secure this qualification have an enormous range of opportunities for further development from apprenticeships in traditional trades, through to degree-level study in areas such as product design, engineering, fashion design, computer-game design, architecture and many more.
There are no dedicated Design and Technology clubs on offer at present, but many students enjoy staying behind after school to work on their projects or try new processes and techniques.
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