At Castor, we acknowledge that design and technology is an inspiring, practical subject that enables children to intervene creatively to solve problems whilst working as individuals or collaboratively as part of a team in shared projects. Our children will be developing their innovation, creative, procedural and technical understanding whilst given opportunities to research, represent and develop their ideas before producing then eventually evaluating their work, comparing it to the effectiveness of past and present technology. Imagination is stimulated as the children design and make products that solve real and relevant problems in our rapidly changing world with further cross-curricular links to English, maths, science, history, computing and art. The problem-solving skills the children acquire can be applied in a variety of contexts, whilst the children consider their own and one anothers' needs, wants and values, all whilst developing their skills, vocabulary and resilience.
A ‘hands on’ skills based design and technology curriculum is taught with 3 units being covered by each year group which are either alternated each half-term with art or taught in weekly blocks. Every two years, our children will cover a ‘Cooking and Nutrition’, ‘Textiles’, ‘Mechanisms’ (KS1)/’Mechanical Systems’ (KS2), ‘Structures’ and ‘Electrical Systems’ (KS2) design and technology project. In UKS2, our children also get the opportunity to embark on a ‘Digital World’ project which builds on the skills they have learnt in the Teach Computing curriculum using physical technology. The design and technology curriculum is taught alongside other units in other subjects which allow for strong cross-curricular links and knowledge, understanding and skills to be embedded. For example, those year groups that cover an electricity unit in science will also cover an ‘Electrical Systems’ design and technology project. Lessons incorporate a range of teaching strategies from independent tasks, paired and group work including practical hands-on, computer based inventive tasks.
Due to alternating projects to ensure a wider depth of study for each unit, those units which aren’t taught in certain year groups and are resourcefully accessible to our families are instead encouraged in the termly homework grids under the ‘Creative’ column. For example, a ‘Cooking and Nutrition’ unit which is covered in Years 1, 3 and 5 will be present in the Years 2, 4 and 6 homework grid.
We currently draw on the format, vocabulary and skills in the Kapow Primary design and technology scheme of work, chosen also due to it’s partnership with Artsmark. Content is based on the D&T Association’s ‘Projects on a Page’ and allows children to design, make and evaluate whilst introducing broad technical knowledge. Teachers have the flexibility to adapt the context of each unit to fit in with other topics as a way of embedding knowledge, understanding and skills or as an assessment opportunity. In our ‘Cooking and Nutrition’ units, children learn where food comes from, about a balanced diet, preparation and cooking skills, kitchen hygiene and safety alongside following recipes. In ‘Mechanisms’ and ‘Mechanical Structures’ projects, children learn to mimic natural movements using mechanisms such as cams, followers, levers and sliders. In teaching ‘Structures’, children learn about material functionality (including strength and stability) and aesthetic properties. In ‘Textiles’ units, children learn about both functional and decorative textiles and skills such as fastening, appliqué and different types of sewing stitches. During ‘Electrical Systems’ units, our children will operate circuits whilst also learning about circuit diagrams and symbols before creating their own electrical products. Finally, in the ‘Digital World’ unit, children will programme products to monitor and control. All units follow the same ‘design’, ‘make’ and ‘evaluate’ cycle (see below) and during each unit, there is also recognition of the health and safety issues related to the tasks undertaken.
Our children are also encouraged to have ownership over their curriculum by being given the opportunity to design their own products to take into consideration personal preferences and audiences. This most recent Mother's Day, Friends of the School kindly donated £1 per child for them to design a gift to take home. The ideas of gifts were researched and brainstormed with support of our Arts Council, with every child in school taking home a gift which supported a progression of textiles skills. Similarly following their visit to the RNLI in Norfolk, Year 2 planned and baked cakes to fundraise for the charity and further supporting our schools vision ‘empowering us all to make a positive difference to the world’ by realising where their decisions can impact the wider world in terms of community, social and environmental issues. Our design and technology curriculum also supports several of our school’s Christian values which are displayed on our values' tree in the school hall including ‘creation’ and ‘resilience’. As a recent UNICEF Gold Rights Respecting school, we recognise design and technology is supportive of Articles 13 (freedom of expression), 29 (education developing every child’s personality, talents and abilities) and 31 (taking part in a range of artistic activities).
In EYFS and Year 1, design and technology opportunities are recognised in continuous provision, for example, through construction areas and STEM challenges. In EYFS, this contributes to the children’s development in the areas of Expressive Arts and Design and Communication and Language alongside their Personal, Social and Emotional development. In Year 1, design and technology is also covered in direct design and technology lessons and as a means of communication and learning in other curriculum areas.
Children learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative and enterprising. They will showcase a clear enjoyment in design and technology that they can apply to other areas of the curriculum. We measure the impact of our design and technology curriculum through ongoing monitoring of the children’s understanding and knowledge via questions and discussion, alongside skill based observations to inform differentiation, support and challenge. By revisiting skills in a spiral curriculum, our children will retain their knowledge and be able to develop their skills in even more depth as they progress through the school, recognising and crediting themselves as ‘designers’ in skills and attributes they can use beyond school and into adulthood. Our children will produce high quality, innovative outcomes, including models and prototypes of products to fulfil the needs of users, clients and scenarios. Furthermore, our children will also understand and apply the principles of healthy eating, diets and recipes including key processes, food groups and cooking equipment.