Design & Technology

Design and technology should be the subject where mathematical brainboxes and science whizz-kids turn their bright ideas into useful products. (James Dyson)


At Greengate Lane Academy we expect the highest aspirations for our pupils. We want all children to learn and make academic progress no matter their starting points. We have a clear vision for what we want pupils to achieve during their time at Greengate and have designed our curriculum to give all pupils the knowledge, skills and understanding they will need in their future years.

Purpose of Education for Design and Technology

At Greengate Lane Academy, we want our pupils to be inspired and engaged within a wide range of design technology media and experiences throughout their time at our school. We want to build confidence in children’s ability to be creative and to express themselves as well as have knowledge about design and designers.

Implementation of the Curriculum

At Greengate Lane Academy we use materials from the Primary Knowledge Curriculum for design & technology. It is adapted it to suit the needs and interests of our learning community.

Each unit of work covers each of the aims of the National Curriculum. The Curriculum Overview explains how this is achieved, summarising for each year group what skills and processes are covered.

Two different ‘aspects’ of design are interwoven into the three areas of study: the environment and sustainability, and enterprise and innovation. These ‘aspects’ acknowledge enduring and contemporary concerns of modern design. Each unit specifies the concepts and skills which our children are expected to learn over the course of a unit. These concepts and skills progress gradually throughout the course of the six years of study.

In ‘cook’, the children will learn to cook from recipes which gradually build basic culinary skills, culminating in year six with the creation of a mezze-style meal requiring the pupils to produce various small dishes. Whilst studying these practical skills, they learn about concepts relating to food such as nutrition, seasonality, food production, transportation and food from different cultures.

In ‘sew’, our children practise using fabric and thread to learn basic sewing techniques to create objects which demonstrate embroidery, appliqué, weaving and plaiting. Concepts such as the properties and creation of different fabrics, fast fashion, industrialisation, waste, recycling and pollution are interwoven into these activities.

In ‘build’ students learn about the creation of structures and mechanical and electrical devices to create products such as cars, moving cards, toys and books. This culminates with year six learning to consider the user in real life, designing a water wall for children in reception. Once again, the practical process of designing and creating a product is interleaved with learning about concepts which have a bearing on what the students make.

These concepts, for example force, motion and the properties of materials are often connected with those encountered in the science curriculum.

The sequence of lessons in the ‘sew’ and ‘build’ areas of study follow a structure to enable the students to become familiar with, understand and practise the process of design: research and investigate, design, make, use and evaluate. The planning for each unit of work specifies the product the children will make, the purpose and user of the product. This specification acknowledges the importance of purpose and user within in the design process. Throughout the course of the lessons the students explore existing products and their uses, generate ideas and designs by creating drawings and prototypes against criteria which they devise having considered purpose, function and appeal. Evaluation against these criteria concludes the process. Discussion is an important part of this process, as is consideration of the properties of potential materials and the choice of tools. Learning about fundamental concepts, skills, developments in history and understanding of the influence of key individuals in the field are interleaved into this process-driven structure. The students’ understanding of key skills and concepts builds from year to year, assessing and cementing prior learning, and therefore the implementation of the curriculum in the given sequence is crucial.

Where a unit looks at a scientific concept which is also addressed in the science curriculum, the DT unit is taught after the science unit. This allows pupils to approach their study of design technology with a degree of confidence and ‘expertise’ and to consolidate their knowledge by creating connections between the different disciplines.

Content is outlined on the long term plan and includes the progression of knowledge and skills, however it is individual teacher’s responsibility to plan continuous opportunities for retrieval practice for previously learned content and developing the following:

  • Taking inspiration from design throughout history
  • Mastery and depth of learning is defined as:
  • Mastery (end of milestone): pupils meeting or mastering the end of key stage expectations and progress over time.
  • Depth (day to day/across a year): pupils understanding lesson content well enough and being able to use and/or apply knowledge/skills

Meaningful opportunities for aspirational self-expression within design are woven through the curriculum which give pupils the opportunity to learn who they are as designers.

Measuring the impact of the Curriculum

In design technology, it is expected that evidence of the children’s study will be in the products they produce and recorded in sketchbooks which can include the work, or photographs of the work they produce each lesson. Sketchbooks may include written reflections on the work of other artists/designers/architects, as well as the children’s written reflections on their own work. These activities are all provided for in lesson to lesson planning. In design technology, we assess pupils’ understanding in a range of ways. Teachers use ongoing assessments to adapt lessons and address misconceptions or skills development to practise. They listen to pupils’ responses in lessons and observe their progress to ensure they are learning and remembering more.

In addition, Leaders measure impact of design technology through:

  • lesson observations – how well children are contributing to discussions and how they articulate ideas about relevant themes and reflect on their design and make decisions;
  • learning walks – how well the curriculum intent is embedded in practical lessons and the environment and that it is providing progressively more complex challenge;
  • book looks and product evaluations – as part of triangulation with learning walks and assessments – the development of authentic ideas and designs grounded in the knowledge they have learned;
  • pupil voice – we listen to pupils’ views about their learning and how well curriculum content is taught and understood to be remembered and applied in practical contexts;

Rationale for DT

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