It is expected that the pupils at Copthorne Preparatory School will where possible follow the requirements of the National Curriculum for ‘Design and Technology’. Where necessary these requirements have been adjusted to fit with the present lesson allocation, classroom facilities and the availability of specialist staff although the aim is always to exceed the requirements specified in the document.
Learning Design and Technology at Copthorne helps to prepare young people for living and working in a technological world. It does this by teaching the technical understanding, design methods and making skills needed to produce practical solutions to real problems. It stimulates both intellectual and creative abilities and develops the personal qualities needed to complete a design project from initial ideas to finished product.
The work of young people in design and technology enables them to:
- relate their personal experience to the work of commerce and industry;
- understand how design and technology affects our lives;
- contribute to the use and development of technology in our society through informed participation.
Children’s experience of designing and using materials begins in their earliest years before school. Their play with toys or the objects around them is used imaginatively to simulate the adult world. Constructing a camp and making sand castles illustrate designing and making in action.
Staff at Copthorne build on these early experiences by showing pupils how to go further. Pupils will be taught to work materials more precisely, and use appropriate tools safely. A wide range of materials will be used – those that are easily formed such as modelling clay and foods, those that need to be cut with tools and assembled – such as paper card or wood. They will use a variety of kits to learn manipulative and constructional skills and develop three-dimensional understanding.
Staff will encourage pupils to think about their ideas carefully rather than adopt their first or most obvious idea. They will be encouraged to talk about their ideas and start to use drawings to clarify and show details of their designs. Staff will also help children to think carefully before making, planning what they must do and how best to do it. By talking about the quality of their own work and the work of others children learn to evaluate even at this early age.
Progression into Key Stage 2 means that experiences gained so far are extended and deepened. Pupils will be taught to measure when it is appropriate, use simple tools more accurately and develop their technical understanding of mechanisms and electrical circuits.
Underpinning much of what pupils do is the activity of designing. Learning is set within the context of a design task or a problem that requires a solution. Pupils are encouraged to become more deliberate in their thinking and to record their ideas by drawing and writing. Their knowledge of design is increased by examining existing products to understand how things work, and to develop the ability to make valid judgements.
Links between class work and real applications are strengthened by visits to farms, factories, supermarkets or museums. Links with other subjects are also made explicit. Staff encourage the practical use of mathematics. Work in art stimulates an imaginative response and aesthetic sensitivity. Staff will help pupils apply knowledge and understanding gained from an experiment in science to a design task.
These extensions help to enrich pupils designing and making. Found objects are often used – plastic bottles and aluminium cans – and construction kits aid the understanding of mechanisms. Knowledge of structures and how to strengthen and reinforce them and electrical devices such as bulbs and switches often flourish here too.
Computers are used across the whole curriculum. In Design & Technology they might be used to manipulate a screen image or to control a device such as a vehicle or the sequence of traffic lights.
The start of Key Stage 3 in an important step. It brings pupils into contact with specialist staff and a wide range of technical resources. Pupils are taught how to work out their ideas with greater technical precision, taking proper account of functional, economic and aesthetic factors. Design proposals can be manufactured by using equipment and an increased range of materials to produce products of quality.
Staff will show pupils how to structure their designing through working in a design folder which shows evidence of exploring ideas and making decisions. Pupils will be taught techniques for exploring and developing their ideas – thumbnail sketching, annotated drawing, 3D mock ups, computer simulations. Sometimes the scale of the design task will make it necessary for pupils to work in teams. Understanding of design continues to develop through the study of existing products.
The range of experience further extends and usually includes the use of foods, textiles, timbers, metals, plastics, mechanisms, pneumatics and electronics. Pupils will be taught computer aided design, computer control and the use of CD-ROM to provide images and information.