How Do I Teach About Materials I’m Not a Specialist In?

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Are you worried about teaching the core content of the D&T GCSE, especially knowledge outside of your specialism?

  • In the D&T GCSE students choose a specialist material to focus on and most of the activities, projects and learning in the legacy specifications are still relevant. This means that specialist materials area knowledge and teaching remain important.
  • For the core content students have to know about a broader range of materials but the learning is limited to material names, their properties, sources and uses. Much of this can be covered through product analysis activities and handling materials activities. 
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  • The core content learning is targeted at top end KS3 level so what students need to know, as well as the depth, is quite basic. The core content at GCSE is also a part of the KS3 curriculum so in the long term it’s a good idea to build much of the core content into the KS3 curriculum, with follow up revision at GCSE. This enables specialists to deliver this content, and reduces the time pressures at KS4. If designed as part of a spaced / deliberate practice curriculum this can also embed learning better.
  • Learning for the core content doesn’t have to be taught through practical work and there’s no requirement for students to learn to make outside of their material specialism. There are, however, a lot of short practical activities teachers can use if they wish, that use little or no specialist machinery and which help make this learning more hands on. 
  • Students don’t have to include materials outside their specialism in their non exam assessment, although they can do so if they wish and if facilities allow. Having the opportunity to do this if the student wishes is a positive thing as it means students can use the most appropriate material for their idea. If students choose to combine materials this also helps them design and make products that reflect the mixed material products available on the high street. 
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  • Where learning content may feel irrelevant to a particular material area there are often more links than there may seem. Many polymers, for example, are both a hard material and a textiles fibre, and therefore much of the learning content applies to both material areas. Another example is levers and mechanisms, which are often seen as not being relevant to textiles. However, simply by using a sewing machine, particularly when problem solving or changing settings, the user is applying this knowledge but just hasn’t formalised the learning. 
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Resources to support delivery of key areas of the D&T GCSE core content

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  • A summary of some of the practical activities on the website that might be used to support learning in the core content. These are being added to all the time. 
  • Resources on levers & mechanisms, and particularly showing their use in a sewing machine. 
  • If you are looking for materials samples packs for the core content with some supporting resources take a look at the Mixed Materials Pack which is available to buy. 


Look at the courses we run that offer support (click on the links to find out more)

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Free D&T:Connect pop up events - Free after school CPD targeted at local schools in  a particular area. These focus on a particular area of the curriculum, especially the core content, with hands on activities during the session and resources to take away, as well as offering the opportunity for delegates to network and share ideas with others in their local area. This isn’t a Teach Meet, but an opportunity to attend a free formal CPD session delivered by Paul and Julie Boyd. 

Low cost Roadshows - Our Roadshows are a full day’s high quality CPD at a cost that is affordable for school’s with limited finances, as well as being accessible for delegates who choose to pay for themselves. Many Roadshows are on a Saturday so no cover is required and this allows us to access equipment and classrooms that aren’t available during the week. 

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Bursary funded courses
- We deliver a range of courses on behalf of the National STEM Learning Centre and state funded schools and academies (i.e. any non fee paying school) can apply for the bursary which covers most of the course fees, and for some courses, the accommodation cost. An application form has to be completed but this is a formality and you don’t have to do any preparation before attending the course, nor do you have to commit to any follow up work afterwards. To see the current bursary funded courses look for ‘bursary funded’ in the courses listed in the current course calendar

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Our independent courses
- These are our own courses that we run in different areas of the country. Each course includes an extensive resource pack for delegates to take away with them. Visit the current course calendar to see courses currently available. We try and respond to the needs of teachers and are always willing to consider adding additional dates, venues and course titles on request. 

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