Design Technology

Now, more than ever, children are challenged to make sense of a fast-changing world, to master new technology and apply their minds to problem-solving tasks. Design Technology enables our boys to experience at first hand the excitement of designing and making something using a variety of processes, equipment and materials. DT lessons extend and enhance the boys’ natural curiosity, building up a repertoire of skills and enabling them to design and make something unique, incorporating their own ideas. DT includes elements of maths, science, art and language development. It encourages creativity, logical thinking and self-esteem. They learn about the designed and made world and how things work.

All boys are taught in half-classes from Year 4 to Year 8. The emphasis from the start is to make challenges enjoyable and achievable. Each project builds in some way on the skills and experiences the boys have acquired. It is tailored to the level each boy has reached: every project can be completed to a good standard, but the gifted and talented can incorporate more complex elements. Health and safety is central to the planning of lessons, and individual instruction is given with particular emphasis on hazards when using specialist equipment.

Work begins with the construction of structures in three dimensions. The boys are taught how to cut, shape and drill resistant materials. Over time the structures become more complex and the importance of designs, working drawings and protypes becomes clear. A great deal of practical maths is involved. Very rapidly mechanisms are introduced, the aim being to incorporate these into various structures pupils create. There is no setting in DT: all pupils follow the same curriculum. Inevitably some will advance more quickly, and differentiation occurs naturally within the planning of lessons. Those who show outstanding talent and work at a faster pace can progress, whilst those who may for example have difficulties with spatial awareness can be given extra help. The pupils are keen to take their projects home, but notes and photographs are kept as a record of what has been achieved. Both attainment and effort are graded, with particular emphasis placed on originality. No two models produced are ever the same: there is always an emphasis on the boy taking control of the design process and incorporating his own ideas.

By the very nature of the subject and style of teaching, each pupil is taught as an individual. It is expected that there will be a disparity in terms of confidence, manipulative ability, dexterity, spatial awareness and experience. Projects are selected which are attainable by all but can stretch the most able. In addition there are ‘mini projects’ available for those who finish first. These are also available to pupils who wish to take DT further in their own time: the DT Lab is open at least three break times during the week for boys to use, in addition to a specific DT Activity run on Thursdays after school throughout the year. Many boys bring in things they have made or are working on at home. Their work is displayed around the school and frequently photographed for the school magazine.

Close links are maintained with other subjects to reinforce concepts, particularly in maths and science. Skills learned in DT are instrumental in learning across the curriculum.