Documents to Support Curriculum Mapping in D&T

Return to the D&T Curriculum Planning page to see other resources & information

This page outlines our approach to curriculum planning and mapping. Our focus is on creating a 5 year curriculum from years 7 -11 (7 year curriculum including with Post 16), as well as one that links back to KS1-3. We go into this in a lot more detail on our curriculum based courses

Looking for our 10 Key Learning Areas in D&T document? Scroll down the page

Our documents can be used by teachers in their school but must not be used in any other way without permission. 


KS3 National Curriculum 

Our KS3 Keywords and Headlines document is a short summary of key elements of a good KS3 curriculum. It’s intended a quick review document for departments who want to audit their provision and it’s not intended to replace a full and more detailed audit. The document includes a short outline of where the information is summarised from. 

Click here for more information on the KS3 curriculum


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D&T GCSE Subject Content (England)

Our GCSE Subject Content Keywords & Headlines document is a quick review document for departments wanting to audit their provision for GCSE. This is a more stripped back version of the specifications which makes it easier to develop a vision for D&T (as opposed to just delivering an exam board specification). All exam boards had to use this document to create their specifications. 

Click here for more information on the GCSE Subject Content


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AS & A Level Subject Content (England)

Our A Level Subject Content Keywords & Headlines document is a quick review document for auditing AS and A level provision. Like the GCSE version above it is a stripped back version of the specifications and is the document all exam boards had to use to create their specifications


Click here for more information on the A Level Subject Content


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Curriculum mapping hexagon cards

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Our curriculum mapping hexagon cards are an interactive version of the ticklist audits listed above. Each statement on the KS3, GCSE and A Level ticklists above have been put onto hexagon shaped cards. The interactive nature of the cards generates team discussions and gives a visual overview of the curriculum across key stages. 

The cards represent a stripped back vision for D&T making it easier to review the curriculum more holistically e.g. in the image the blue cards represent the KS3 statements and the white cards learning from the same area from the GCSE Subject Content. 


Download these cards from the ‘Pay What You Want’ part of the Shop. Instructions on how the resource might be used are included. 

The hexagon cards can be used to map and audit the curriculum and then the 10 Key Learning Areas in D&T document below gives the specific detail from each exam board. 


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10 key learning areas in D&T

We often talk about our 10 key Learning areas in D&T and this developed from using the review documents above with a wide range of teachers, many of whom divided the learning into categories in order to see how learning progressed across the key stages. The most common classifications were:

  1. Users, needs & design contexts
  2. Designing: Design Strategies & communicating ideas
  3. Past & present professionals
  4. Wider impact of designing & making: Social, moral, environmental & cultural issues, energy storage & generation, new & emerging technologies
  5. Levers & mechanisms
  6. Forces & stresses
  7. Electronics & programmable components
  8. Smart, modern &  technical materials
  9. Materials: Categories, sources, origins, selection & properties
  10. Making: Working with specialist materials & techniques


Much of our work focuses on metacognition and in particular strategies around spaced and retrieval practice. This involves identifying key learning to revisit and apply in different contexts and the key learning area list gives us a reference point for planning, reviewing and mapping learning. It’s important to recognise the list isn’t fixed and that sections have cross overs. Sections are also not of equal size or importance.


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10 key learning areas mapping document

We used our 10 key learning areas list to create a 10 Key Learning Areas in D&T mapping document to pull together the KS3 and GCSE Subject Content alongside the 4 D&T GCSE specs. The aim of this document was to be able to compare how each exam board interprets the DFE GCSE Subject Content and how this relates back to KS3 (with also a nod towards the A level). 

The document enables you to:

  • Get a better holistic view of curriculum planning across all KS1 - 5
  • Understand how the exam boards have chosen to interpret the Subject Content and review how well this meets the original vision for D&T
  • Compare the learning for individual content across the exam boards
  • Identify how learning might fit into a spaced and retrieval practice delivery model


Above you can see the key learning area summary on past and present professionals which shows the format of the document:

  • Column 1:  our heading to summarise the content of the page
  • Column 2:  relevant learning statements from the KS3 headline document
  • Column 3:  relevant learning statements from the GCSE Subject Content headlines
  • Columns 4 - 7: detail from each exam board’s specification for that area of learning (colour codes are just for a quick reference). 
  • Column 8:  relevant Subject Content headlines for A level. 


The main 10 Key Learning Areas in D&T mapping document includes all exam boards and can’t be edited. You can also download a version that just lists individual exam boards as an editable document.
Click here to download these documents. 


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Choosing a specification at GCSE and A Level

No one exam board that is better than any other and each has advantages and disadvantages. A department's choice of specification will depend on lots of different factors and it’s important that a key factor in the decision making process is what is right for the students. When the specifications were first released we produced some summary documents to try to objectively compare the specs, along with some key questions departments might ask themselves when choosing an exam board. Note these are our opinion only & departments must also do their own comparisons of the specification and other supporting documents provided by each exam board.  

Click here to see these comparison documents. 

The changes to D&T GCSE in 2017 represented a significant change for many teachers. Click here to see information we provided during the changes to explain why the D&T GCSE was changing. 

This DfE document lists the approved key stage 4 qualifications for the 2014 to 2021 school and college performance tables (in other words what qualifications count towards Progress 8). The discount codes are also indicated which is useful to know as qualifications with the same code can only be counted once. For most schools this means students are not allowed to do both qualifications as only one would count towards Progress 8. 


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Resources that support curriculum planning

The Let's Learn resources are being developed to support each of the 10 key learning areas. These will be developed over time and are constantly being added to. 


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Food Preparation and Nutrition

Although cooking and nutrition is still part of KS3 D&T it is a separate qualification at GCSE and at Level 3. This website has limited resources on Food and Nutrition because there are already excellent resources elsewhere, including:


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The documents on this page can be used by teachers in their school but must not be used in any other way without permission. 

Return to the D&T Curriculum Planning page to see other resources & information

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© Boyd Education  2012   text, images & ideas on this website are the copyright of Julie Boyd & may not be copied or reproduced without permission.. All rights Reserved.