Design and Technology

Design and Technology education at Kingham Hill School focuses on the broad range of skills needed for life in the 21st Century. Design and Technology is a fundamental contributor to STEM - Science Technology Engineering and Maths - and is often the subject where pupils achieve the most sense of satisfaction when seeing their ideas realised. The UK Government recognises the vital role that STEM education will have for the future-proofing of skills, and a survey from 2014 found that careers in Engineering to be most likely to provide enduring and adaptable careers. It is often said that pupils need preparation for jobs that are yet to exist, and the skills developed through the study of Design and Technology help to nurture these in children. The subject now goes far beyond the widely understood specialisms of ‘woodwork’ and ‘metalwork’ to consider morality and ethics of being a designer, sustainability and problem-solving. 

At Key Stage 3 pupils work through a spiral education model, meaning that topics and themes are revisited each year, becoming increasingly more demanding and with raised expectations in terms of quality. This style of education promotes mastery, as pupils are given the opportunity to revisit previous work and continue to build upon them. This is the ideal preparation for study of Design and Technology at GCSE and A Level, and also develops cross-curricular skills and understanding.

Fundamental to teaching and learning at Key Stage 3 is the understanding of the design process, the 10 steps used to understand problem and create their solutions. The design process is also considered as an on-going cycle, an iterative process where improvement is continual, and connections are made to Japanese business philosophies that have been adopted worldwide, specifically Kaizen. This is explored both in terms of Design and Technology and the wider world: How do you write an essay successfully? How do you create anything of your own design? 

In the First Form, pupils focus on understanding and memorising the design process before applying this understanding to their own design and make project. How to eat an elephant is used as a concept for achieving an apparent insurmountable goal. Wider understanding of sustainability, materiality, processes and design history are also explored, with findings applied to the project. Pupils usually spend half of their year in the first seven stages of the design process, ranging from identifying a problem to plan of manufacture, and the remaining half manufacturing, testing and evaluating. Manufacture tends to centre on timber at this level, as this material category is better suited to work for younger pupils than metals and polymers. 

In the Second Form, pupils begin their year, once again, focusing on the design process, with skills and understanding developed from the First Form. Pupils are introduced to CAD and CAM, with projects centred on timbers and polymers. The sustainability concerns of using polymers is fundamental to the work at this level, and questions surrounding ethics of designers are raised. Topics of scales of production, properties of each material and manufacturing processes are also considered. Pupils work through the ten stages of the design process, and then start the process again; the second cycle of learning emphasises the concept of continued improvement by considering what has been learned in the first cycle. How can pupils improve the quality of their work? Can they produce more in less time, with less money and by using fewer resources without a drop in quality?

In the Third Form, pupils revise the design process and are now adept at using this to help solve problems. Project work increases in pace, as does the level of demand. Pupils combine the skills and understanding learned in their previous two years, and are introduced to a wider range of materials, skills and processes. Pupils work through the design process a number of times, both in terms of their overall project and for each individual component. Material categories include timbers, metals, and polymers, manufacture combines traditional hand skills with CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machinery and communication methods cover both hand drawing and CAD work. Theory work introduces pupils to the GCSE syllabus in order to create a solid foundation for further study.