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Design Technology Subject Leadership


Gilded Hollins Primary School

Subject Leadership of

Design Technology



Overall picture of current practice


Design and technology is an inspiring, rigorous and practical subject. Using creativity and imagination, pupils design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. They acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art. Pupils learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens. Through the evaluation of past and present design and technology, they develop a critical understanding of its impact on daily life and the wider world. High-quality design and technology education makes an essential contribution to the creativity, culture, wealth and well-being of the nation.



How is the subject is taught?

Design Technology is taught through a ‘Learning Challenge’ curriculum. It builds on children’s skills and knowledge as they move through the school. An over-arching, challenge question links subjects cohesively giving meaning and purpose to children’s learning. This ‘prime’ question then leads to smaller, subsidiary challenges, also presented as questions. It is important that these smaller, ‘bite-size’ questions make sense to the children and are within their range of understanding.


As the challenges devised are wide ranging and deliberately chosen to promote deep thinking, this gives school the scope to use the cross curricular links and teach other subjects within the smaller ‘bite-size’ questions.

Design Technology is one of these cross curricular lessons and has been linked to the ‘Learning Challenge’ in various ways. We ensure that pupils enjoy their work by making the work accessible to all children, by making learning real through research and the use of websites and sources on the internet. Independent research, analysing findings as a group or pair, discussion and presentations of work or findings is an integral part of this curriculum area. It is also important for the children to evaluate their DT work (including plans, tools used and final piece of work) and discuss areas for improvement.


As DT is taught as a cross curricular subject within the ‘Learning Challenge’, it is not taught every week. However, as it is incorporated into an overarching question, the children can use their knowledge of a topic to help with their creative design. Within the lessons, the children should: Plan, design, make and then evaluate their products. For example, in Year 3, the children were thinking about magnetic forces in their science ‘Learning Challenge’ and were asked to produce a game which used magnets. This resulted in the children not only having to design and create a game, but had to use their knowledge of magnetic forces to ensure the game worked as it was supposed to. These games were all unique and relied on the children’s knowledge of magnetic forces to actually work. One child commented that, “At first, I followed my plan but my game didn’t work because all the fish we attracted to the magnet straight away, so I evaluated it and had to change my design to make it work correctly.”


Food technology is also an integral part of DT. The children therefore have many opportunities to design meals from around the world, thinking about the ingredients used and equipment needed. They then have the opportunity to assess and evaluate their own outcomes. Year 6 made pizzas but their challenge was not to just make a tasty pizza. They had to think about the price of ingredients and how much their pizza would cost in order to make a profit.

Areas taught across the school


Key Stage 1

*design purposeful, functional, appealing products for themselves and other users based on design criteria

*generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through talking, drawing, templates, mock-ups and, where appropriate, information and communication technology

*select from and use a range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks [for example, cutting, shaping, joining and finishing]

*select from and use a wide range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their characteristics

*explore and evaluate a range of existing products

*evaluate their ideas and products against design criteria

*build structures, exploring how they can be made stronger, stiffer and more stable

*explore and use mechanisms [for example, levers, sliders, wheels and axles], in their products.

*use the basic principles of a healthy and varied diet to prepare dishes

*understand where food comes from.




Technical knowledge

Cooking and nutrition


Key Stage 2

*use research and develop design criteria to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing products that are fit for purpose, aimed at particular individuals or groups

*generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through discussion, annotated sketches, cross-sectional and exploded diagrams, prototypes, pattern pieces and computer-aided design

*select from and use a wider range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks [for example, cutting, shaping, joining and finishing], accurately

*select from and use a wider range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities

*investigate and analyse a range of existing products

*evaluate their ideas and products against their own design criteria and consider the views of others to improve their work

*understand how key events and individuals in design and technology have helped shape the world

*apply their understanding of how to strengthen, stiffen and reinforce more complex structures

*understand and use mechanical systems in their products [for example, gears, pulleys, cams, levers and linkages]

*understand and use electrical systems in their products [for example, series circuits incorporating switches, bulbs, buzzers and motors]

*apply their understanding of computing to program, monitor and control their products.

*understand and apply the principles of a healthy and varied diet

*prepare and cook a variety of predominantly savoury dishes using a range of cooking techniques

*understand seasonality, and know where and how a variety of ingredients are grown, reared, caught and processed.




Technical knowledge

Cooking and nutrition

How the subject is assessed?

Teachers monitor progress continually and adjust their teaching accordingly. Much of the learning covered in these subjects is kept hands-on and kinaesthetic, providing practical learning so that skills can become embedded and so ensure concrete understanding. Assessment through questioning and verbal discussion is an area that the school is working hard to promote and enhance. For example, Year 5 created their own moving version of the solar system. They then had to explain not just what they did, but how their design and implementation made it work correctly.

To augment this on-going diagnostic assessment, Design Technology has discrete skills outlined in the new curriculum and teachers assess children’s skills and knowledge at termly intervals. In this way, I have a clear picture of children’s progress and achievement in DT right across the school. In Foundation stage, learning is initiated by the child (using blocks, bricks craft materials etc) and is assess by questioning. Assessment of children’s knowledge is then measured through the steps made in the EYFS profile and is evidenced in the children’s learning journals. When discussing DT with Year 3 children, they mentioned, “It is fun making a prototype and then using that to help us make the real thing. We love using different materials and equipment like hammers, vegetable peelers and glue guns.”



Monitoring, evaluation and review 

Observations of the children working on their challenge questions have shown that they are engaged and enthused by their learning in this subject. Teachers work hard to choose challenge questions and DT activities that will capture the children’s imaginations. For example in year 4, the children were given the challenge to create their own board game. During these lessons, the children had to design, make and evaluate their games. The children then got to play each other’s designs and give feedback. In this topic, the children really understood the need to evaluate their work in order to improve in the future.


Planning is of a high standard overall, and shows clear objectives and outcomes with good use of a range of resources and techniques. The nature of the challenge questions allows teachers to vary teaching techniques and embrace different subjects whilst maintaining a clear plan for progression through the discrete objectives laid out in the new curriculum.


Work sampling can take place over the course of this year which allows me to work with teachers to monitor the standard of the children’s work overall, as well as review how well the cross curricular nature of the teaching curriculum has embedded across the school in regard to DT. A lot of the monitoring of Design Technology involves photographs or videos taken of completed projects. This is especially true in the Foundation stage where progress is monitored through relevant age range steps laid out in the EYFS profile and learning journals. These small learning steps lead to the Early Learning Goals. These photographs and videos are also stored on the ‘Seesaw’ app where parents can also see the children’s work.


What else did the children say?

“We loved making food because you follow a recipe and if you do it right, the food tastes really nice”. - Year 2

 “We loved making out wooden ball games! It was quite difficult but all of our designs were different and we got to test each other’s out.” – Year 5

“Making the salad was my favourite because we got to try the ingredients before we deigned it and then I only put in things that I knew that I liked.” – Year 3

Current standards and progress

Design Technology has discrete skills and specific pieces of knowledge that have to be taught over the year, teachers assess using their Learning Challenge. Decisions are made as to whether children are emerging, expected or exceeding the level appropriate to their age.

As the year progresses, work samples and the general results of lesson outcomes give teachers, and me as subject leader, a clear picture as to whether various children or cohorts are working above, below or expected levels in DT.

Progress for individuals is made clearer as objectives are highlighted over time.



Where to now? Recent developments, highlights and priorities for future developments


This year, pupils were able to use hammers, saws, glue guns and many different materials within their lessons. They had to think of their safety as well as their final product. Some of the children used DT booklets to help them understand which part of the process they were doing at the time. This really helped them to focus on either the research, design, making or evaluation aspect.


Priorities for future development

  • Ensure that Design Technology is well resourced – especially cooking
  • Monitor and analyse the assessments made over the year to ensure good achievement and progress for all children.
  • Support teachers to continue develop their integration of DT into Learning Challenge Questions.
  • Ensure that all children use DT booklets to help with their understanding of the different aspects of DT.