Curriculum Models

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Return to the main D&T curriculum page

Which curriculum model will suit your department?

There is no one curriculum model which will suit all schools. A variety of factors such as student needs, staffing, resources, rooming and number of timetabled hours will all impact on what model each school uses. The department’s vision for D&T is also important, including whether they are delivering D&T GCSE, the Tech Awards, other qualifications, or a mixture of qualifications. 

The importance of KS3

How learning is approached at KS3 will impact on both KS4 and KS5 so getting this right is important. Much of the broader materials content at GCSE is part of the 2014 KS3 curriculum and this will provide a very solid base particularly if a department wants to give students more of a specialist material focus at KS4. 

Download an audit that can be used to map KS3

D&T GCSE: Broader materials & specialisms 

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The spirit of the D&T GCSE is that students learn about and experience a range of broader materials, including designing and making to solve real world problems using whatever material offers the best solution. Another part of the overall spirit of the D&T GCSE is the links between materials, with the cross overs being emphasised and developed, rather than them being seen as separate subjects. It is useful to bear this vision in mind when planning a curriculum although for many schools, certainly in the short term, there will be many barriers to achieving this so compromises will have to be made.

Departments should start with where they are now when planning their curriculum model and focus on a longer term development plan to enable them to work towards the wider vision of the D&T GCSE. Some departments will remain quite traditional and approach the D&T GCSE as a series of discrete qualifications in individual material areas all under the heading of D&T (possibly followed by the material area name in brackets). Many will do the bare minimum in terms of considering broader knowledge possibly covering much as this content as part of KS3. Other schools will see the D&T GCSE as an opportunity to develop their curriculum more radically giving students the opportunity to combine materials if they wish. Most will take a more middle line between these two models, keeping much of what they traditionally do and working towards a broader material approach in the longer term. 

Download documents that will help you plan how you deliver the D&T GCSE


Things to consider when choosing a curriculum model

  • What vision does the department have for D&T and what message does the learning model need to give to SLT, parents, and students?
  • What are the learning needs of the students e.g. progression to A level, high numbers that go on to university or into certain types of employment?
  • How can a five (or seven) year curriculum model support learning from KS3 to KS5?
  • Does KS3 learning meet the 2014 KS3 curriculum?
  • How can learning from the 2014 KS3 curriculum be shared out between teachers to divide up the workload?
  • Is the use of rotations appropriate at KS3 (and possibly in some schools at KS4) or do teachers follow the group?
  • How can what is learnt at KS3 be further embedded at KS4 to ensure transferable learning takes place?
  • What already works and would be good to keep or could be adapted to bring it into line with best practices at KS3, 4 and 5?
  • How cohesive and supportive of each other are the team and how can the team be used to support each other moving forward?
  • What material specialisms do staff have and does this cover all material areas within the D&T GCSE?
  • How open minded are staff to change and the broader material approach at GCSE?
  • What impact does the choice of qualification and exam board at KS4 and KS5 have?
  • Does the position of rooms facilitate shared resources or team teaching across materials e.g. are textiles rooms next to RM rooms?
  • What impact does timetabling have on what can be delivered?
  • What resources and equipment are available?
  • What funding is available e.g. staff development, resources?
  • What technician support is available to support broader materials learning?
  • What other solutions might there be to supporting broader materials learning e.g. team teaching, use of rotas, use of post 16 mentors, use of retired staff acting as classroom experts, after school workshops for additional materials support, students booking into another classroom for specialist help?
  • What support is available from SLT, parents, and students?
  • What part will KS3 cooking & nutrition play within KS3 and how does GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition sit alongside the D&T GCSE?
  • If one of the material areas is taught as an art qualification does this count towards D&T department figures or art? Who funds this qualification?
  • How can you use the D&T GCSE to do things very differently (either now or in the future) e.g. vertical tutor groups, for example, are currently very popular, mixing different year groups, how might this approach benefit the teaching of D&T?

Download documents that will help you plan how you deliver the D&T GCSE

Look at our case study schools and find out about the curriculum models they are using

What are your longer term plans for developing D&T?

These might include:

  • Developing a cohesive and mutually supportive team
  • Developing local support networks to support the curriculum
  • Developing resources and equipment in line with D&T in the wider world
  • Staff development in both broader materials and speciaslit material areas
  • Developing a cohesive five (or seven) year curriculum with a focus on broader materials and D&T in the real world
  • Developing a curriculum that is less focused on individual projects and more focused on user needs and solving design problems, including wider world challenges
  • Developing community and industry links
  • Promoting D&T to SLT, parents & students as a cohesive subject
  • Links to maths and science, including developing shared resources
  • Reconfiguring the positions of rooms to facilitate shared resources and team teaching 
  • Staff development both in broader materials skills as well as within specialisms
  • Developing KS3 to cover more of the broader content to reduce pressure at GCSE. 
  • Developing resource banks that can be used across material areas e.g. materials whose sources and processing are the same and which exist as both a hard and soft material (e.g. nylon, polypropylene, carbon fibre).

Find a course to support your D&T curriculum

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