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Our Design and Technology Curriculum

Article 29: Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full

Our goal is for our children to become designers. Designers  must have: 

Fundamental Foundations

We believe that for children to secure greater depth, it is important that they first have solid fundamental foundations. Fundamental foundations should not be rushed and so the notion of ‘rapid progress’ must be dismissed. Instead the goal of repetition should be seen as both useful and necessary. This is why you will see us returning regularly to practical and technical knowledge as well as the design process.  

Cognitive Domains – Degrees of Understanding  

We refer to three degrees of understanding and thinking ‘Basic’, ‘Advancing’ and ‘Deep’.  

BASIC – Low level cognitive demand. Involves acquisition of fundamental foundations.  

ADVANCING – Higher level cognitive demands beyond recall. Requires application involving some degree of decision making in how to apply fundamental foundations.  

DEEP – Cognitive demand involves non-standard, non-routine, inter-connected, multi-step thinking in problems with more than one possible solution. Requires reasoning and justification for the inventive application of fundamental foundations. 

Time Scales for Progression Through the Cognitive Domains

Milestone 1 – Y1 & Y2 

Milestone 2 – Y3 & Y4 

Milestone 3 – Y5 & Y6  

Each milestone should be seen as containing two phases. In the first phase, pupils should repeat the content a sufficient number of times to secure fundamental foundations; in the second phase, they should apply the foundations in order to reach the ‘expected’ standard. If they reach this before the end of the second phase, they should move on to tasks that will secure greater depth. Thus, progress through the cognitive domains take two years.  

It is expected that by the end of Year 1, pupils should be able to complete the BASIC tasks to secure fundamental foundations and by the end of Year 2, the ADVANCING tasks. It is also reasonable that a number of children may move on to the DEEP activities if they secure an early understanding of advancing.  

Milestone 1 

Y1 & Y2 

Milestone 2 

Y3 & Y4

Milestone 3

Y5 & Y6

Beginning 

Y1 

Advancing 

Y2 

Deep 

Y2

Beginning 

Y3 

Advancing 

Y4

Deep 

Y4

Beginning 

Y5

Advancing 

Y6 

Deep 

Y6

Page 144 of the Primary National Curriculum 2014 states: 

‘While it is important that pupils make progress, it is also vitally important that they develop secure understanding of each key block of knowledge and concepts in order to progress to the next stage. Insecure, superficial understanding will not allow genuine progress: pupils may struggle at key points of transition (such as between primary and secondary school), build up serious misconceptions, and/or have significant difficulties in understanding higher-order content.’ 

We believe that it is therefore extremely important to secure the fundamental foundations before trying to secure greater depth.   

Curriculum Breadth, Depth &  Progression Principles 

We have carefully planned our curriculum to ensure progression as well as breadth and depth. These are the principles we have adhered to: 

Building a Design & Technology Schema at Globe 

Our pupils will form an Design & Technology schema* by: 

*Schema – Schema theory states that all knowledge is organised into units. A schema therefore is a conceptual system for understanding knowledge. A subject schema is a way of organising knowledge in a meaningful way; it is an appreciation of how facts are connected and the ways in which they are connected. A schema is distinct from information, which is just isolated facts that have no organisational basis or links.  

Threshold Concepts – The Big Ideas 

At  Globe we will teach these three threshold concepts throughout KS1 and KS2. These are the big ideas that underpin the subject.  Threshold concepts tie together the subject micro-topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored throughout the micro-topics. 

The three threshold concepts in design & technology are:  

Master practical techniques. 

This concept involves developing the skills needed to make high quality products. 

Take inspiration from design.  

This concept involves appreciating the design process that has influenced the products we use in everyday life. The word ‘iterate’ means to repeat. This is an important part of the discipline of design.  We use the following iterative process: think, make, break, repeat.  The ‘break’ part of the process involves looking at the weaknesses of the design as it develops and making adjustments accordingly – a stage that is also called evaluation. 

Design, make, evaluate and improve, 

This concept involves developing the process of design thinking and seeing design as an iterative process.   

Threshold Concepts - What do we Teach?

.Each threshold concept has its own facets of knowledge which help to strengthen the schema. This knowledge can be put into categories.  Here are the knowledge categories explained: 

Knowledge Category  

Knowledge Category Explained 

Technical Knowledge 
  • Technical knowledge involves knowing about the technical theories that underpin design. This helps designers to imagine products that, in the real world, will do what they intended them to do.  For example, knowing about the theory of triangulation allows designers to create structures that are strong stable; knowing about the theory of electrical systems allows them to produce workable products.  
  • Technical knowledge also includes learning about design challenges, such as how best to join materials.  Without knowing, for example, that scoring card before folding make for a cleaner fold, one cannot realise one’s designs.  
  • Technical knowledge is distinct from practical knowledge in that it is focused on theory; practical knowledge is based on one's ability to apply theory successfully.  
We teach the following areas of technical knowledge: 
  • Structures (frame, solid, shell, arch) 
  • Mechanisms (slider, lever, wheel and axle; linked lever, pneumatics and hydraulics; pulleys, gears and cams) 
  • Electrical systems (paper, circuits, electronic motions) 
  • Artificial intelligence and app control (programming, sensors, monitoring) 
  • Food and nutrition (food preparation, sources of food, seasonal foods, safety and hygiene, health and nutrition) 

Practical Knowledge 

  • Practical knowledge involves applying technical knowledge to projects. It requires practice and a degree of ‘finger fluency’ in much the same way as a fluent reader requires automatic recall of phonics knowledge, designers need automatic recall of technical and practical knowledge to successfully realise their designs.  Without practical competence pupils will struggle sot understands the limitations of their designs and therefore, be more likely to produces unrealistic design proposals.  For example, if pupils know, and are fluent in applying, how to cut and join sqaure-section wood when forming a truss then their bridge designs will reflect their practical knowledge.  

We teach the following areas of practical knowledge: 

  • Cutting 

  • Joining 

  • Measuring 

  • Scoring 

  • Assembling 

  • Strengthening 

  • CAD (computer-aided design) 

  • Cross-section and exploded diagrams 

Design Inspiration 

  • Design and technology is primarily concerned with making useful inventions that have a purpose and intended users (as opposed to art which is primarily a form of expression through media) 

  • The ideas for most inventions come from that that are already in existence and, over time, inventors gradually improve them.  Designers take inspiration from products already in existence, whether natural or manufactured, and use them as starting points for their designs, For example, some of the earliest bridges are likely to have been fallen trees, which probably inspired bridges and so on. By focusing on the knowledge of existing products, we aim to help pupils to appreciate that inspirations comes from what is already around us. As DT is a STEM (Science, Technoology Engineering and Mathematics) subject, many of the inspirations explored are taken from these disciplines.  

Design Process 

  • Design is an iterative process.  The word ‘iterate’ means to repeat. This is an important part of the discipline of design.   

  • We use the following iterative process: think, make, break, repeat.  The ‘break’ part of the process involves looking at the weaknesses of the design as it develops and making adjustments accordingly – a stage that is also called evaluation. 

  • We use the term ‘evaluation’ throughout the design process rather than something that is done at the end.  

Expecations of Progress through Milestones

We have broken the National Curriculum into three milestones with clear expectation of progress by the end of each milestone. 

Milestone 1 (Y1/2)

Design, make, evaluate and improve 

Take inspiration from design  

• Design products that have a clear purpose?and an intended user. 

• Make products, refining the design as work?progresses. 

• Use software to design. 

• Explore objects and designs to identify likes?and dislikes. 

• Suggest improvements to existing designs. 

• Explore how products have been created. 

Master Practical Techniques 

Food and Nutrition 

• Cut, peel and grate ingredients safely and?hygienically. 

• Measure or weigh using measuring cups or?electronic scales. 

• Assemble and cook ingredients. 

 

Materials 
• Cut materials safely using tools provided. 

• Measure and mark out to the nearest?centimetre. 

• Demonstrate a range of cutting and shaping?techniques (such as tearing, cutting, folding?and curling). 

• Demonstrate a range of joining techniques?(such as gluing, using hinges or combining?materials to strengthen). 

Mechanisms 

• Create products using levers, wheels and winding?mechanisms. 

 

 

Structures 

• Practise drilling, screwing, gluing and nailing materials to make and strengthen products 

 

 

 Milestone 2 (Y3/4)

Design, make, evaluate and improve 

Take inspiration from design  

• Design with purpose by identifying?opportunities to design. 

• Make products by working efficiently (such?as by carefully selecting materials). 

• Refine work and techniques as work?progresses, continually evaluating the product?design. 

• Use apps to design and represent product?designs.? 

• Identify some of the great designers in all?of the areas of study (including pioneers in?horticultural techniques) to generate ideas for?designs. 

• Improve upon existing designs, giving reasons?for choices. 

• Disassemble products to understand how?they work. 

 

Master Practical Techniques 

Food and Nutrition 

• Prepare ingredients hygienically using?appropriate utensils. 

• Measure ingredients accurately to the nearest gram. 

• Follow a recipe. 

• Assemble and cook ingredients (controlling the?temperature of the hob, if cooking). 

Materials 

• Cut materials accurately and safely by?selecting appropriate tools. 

• Measure and mark out to the nearest?millimetre. 

• Apply appropriate cutting and shaping?techniques that include cuts within the?perimeter of the material (such as slots or cut?outs). 

• Select appropriate joining techniques. 

 

Mechanisms 

• Use scientific knowledge of the transference?of forces to choose appropriate mechanisms?for a product (such as linked levers or pneumatics)). 

 

Electrics and Computing 

• Create products with series and parallel circuits 

• Control and monitor models using apps designed for this purpose. 

 

 

Structures 

• Choose suitable techniques to construct?products or to repair items. 

• Strengthen materials using suitable techniques.? 

 

 

 

 Milestone 3 (Y5/6)

Design, make, evaluate and improve 

Take inspiration from design  

• Design with the user in mind, motivated by?the service a product will offer (rather than?simply for profit). 

• Make products through stages of?prototypes, making continual refinements. 

• Ensure products have a high-quality finish,?using art skills where appropriate. 

• Use prototypes, cross-sectional diagrams and?computer aided designs to represent designs.? 

• Combine elements of design from a range of?inspirational designers throughout history,?giving reasons for choices. 

• Create innovative designs that improve upon?existing products. 

• Evaluate the design of products so as to?suggest improvements to the user?experience.? 

 

Master Practical Skills  

Food and Nutrition 

• Understand the importance of correct?storage and handling of ingredients (using?knowledge of micro-organisms). 

• Measure accurately and calculate ratios of?ingredients to scale up or down from a?recipe. 

• Demonstrate a range of baking and cooking?techniques. 

• Create and refine recipes, including?ingredients, methods, cooking times and?temperatures. 

Materials 

• Cut materials with precision and refine the?finish with appropriate tools (such as sanding?wood after cutting or a more precise scissor?cut after roughly cutting out a shape). 

• Show an understanding of the qualities of?materials to choose appropriate tools to cut?and shape (such as the nature of fabric?may require sharper scissors than would be?used to cut paper). 

 

Textiles 

• Create objects (such as a cushion) that?employ a seam allowance. 

• Join textiles with a combination of stitching?techniques (such as back stitch for seams?and running stitch to attach decoration).? 

• Use the qualities of materials to create?suitable visual and tactile effects in the?decoration of textiles (such as a soft?decoration for comfort on a cushion). 

 

Electrics and Computing 

• Create products using electronics kits that?employ a number of components (such as?LEDs and resistors). 

• Write code to control and monitor models?or products. 

 

 

Structures 

• Develop a range of practical skills to create?products (such as cutting,?drilling and screwing, nailing, gluing, filing?and sanding). 

Mechanisms 

• Convert rotary motion to linear using cams. 

• Use innovative combinations of electronics?(or computing) and mechanics in product?designs. 

 

 

 

 

 

Curriculum Breadth Maps (topics) - Intent

How we Implement our Design & Technology Curriculum