The current Design and Technology specification replaced all legacy qualifications in September 2017, delivering a single qualification through Design and Technology. OCR have delivered an interpretation of the DfE set content that allows a real flexibility to centres, so they can deliver a course that best suits their students interests whilst still covering the wider requirements of the qualification, whilst still delivering a qualification suitable for the 21st century.
It is recommended to deliver the subject in a practical, hands on and thought provoking manner in order to cover the required theory for the examined component, through the principles of iterative designing ‘Explore/Create/Evaluate’ which will also prepare students for their NEA (Non-exam assessment) projects.
If you chose to deliver the course through a more Textiles, Engineering or Graphic Products centric approach, that is perfectly acceptable, and will really help to focus the delivery and engagement with some groups. In doing this however, it is really important that you don’t lose site of the broader core content which is equivalent to very generic KS3 learning in D&T. This will be covered in the examination.
Maths skills area also examined, equivalent to KS3 Maths (prior GCSE/foundation GCSE level). If you refer to past and practice papers you will see that the Maths is not complex, but allowing students to become familiar with applying it in differing contexts is key.
When delivering a specific pathway to your students. It is recommended that you cover sufficient in-depth learning to allow candidates to apply examples of this and to be able to draw from the experience of their practical learning in the examination. It is possible to focus in great depth on one of the in-depth, but offering them a second will give them more optionality in the exam and better prepare them for further learning in the subject. The six in-depth areas are:
- Papers and Boards
- Fibres and Fabrics
- Design Engineering (what was systems and control, electronics/mechanics)
Examples of how you may apply the above to specific pathways include:
Design Engineering – A teaching group that has a much stronger focus on Design Engineering will probably also look at ‘Metals’ or possibly ‘Polymers’ in-depth. The exam preparation limits electronics and mechanics more than legacy specifications due to comparability across all areas, but the project work can stretch and challenge students in far more depth in preparation for future progression to A Level D&T: Design Engineering.
Fashion and Textiles – This could be a more traditional Fashion focused group or take a more cross product approach. A more traditional group is likely to spend much of their in-depth learning looking at ‘Fibres and fabrics’, but will have to ensure covering this with non-fashion items too. A more contemporary group may look at incorporating ‘Design Engineering’ into their products and learning, or ‘Metals’ or ‘Polymers’ from the perspective of component parts for instance. A Fashion and Textiles group is tied to the wider ‘core’ and ‘Maths’ content, but can deliver this through a very Fashion and Textiles focused approach.
Product Design – Such as group is probably only going to be called as such if there are other distinct teaching groups within the centre. Effectively they would take quite a ‘Holistic’ approach, are certainly likely to cover ‘Polymers’ in depth, but a second or third in-depth area is going to be down to the resources and experience in the centre but most likely to add in ‘Timbers’ or ‘Metals’. It may be prudent to take a ‘consumer’ focus here to ensure better progression to A Level.
Graphic Products – This is the only approach that doesn’t have a direct progression to A Level, but many centres have strong Graphic Products groups at GCSE. There are a multitude of products that could be developed through this pathway, but it is important to make sure they are focused and achievable in relation to solving a user need/problem/opportunity, rather than focusing on surface graphics that do not offer innovation. Such a group would more likely have a focus toward ‘Papers and Boards’ and ‘Polymers’ in-depth.