Wouldn't it be nice if...

Published 30th January 2014

Written by: Richard Green

With a new KS1-3 curriculum in place for September we know that the next challenge appearing over the horizon will be the review of GCSE qualifications. Ofqual have been tasked to do this and it is already underway for some subjects. But the review of D&T GCSEs is imminent and now is the time to do some creative thinking. What proposals and recommendations can we take to the Ofqual table when we get the invitation? What do we want the revised GCSEs for D&T to look like?

This started me thinking about D&T examinations and qualifications over the last 30 years and some of the more interesting, innovative and, most importantly, informative aspects they included. So here’s a wish list as a starter – wouldn’t it be nice if the new GCSEs:

  • built on the new KS1-3 programmes of study so schools could create a coherent 5 year programme;
  • rewarded creativity and risk taking – or, in the words of Sir James Dyson, “...rewarded failure”;
  • required students to work, at least once, on a real world design brief and, where possible, in collaboration with a designer, engineer, technologist ....;
  • recognised and rewarded the selection and use of appropriate materials and manufacturing processes – hand, machine and/or CAD/CAM;
  • were examined by students producing an online portfolio containing a varied collection of 2D and 3D work produced over 2-3 years;
  • had examination components (we have to be realistic here and not expect the Government to accept 100% coursework!) designed to contribute to the student’s portfolio – perhaps controlled coursework or a pre-practical and practical element (remember London O level D&T?) or an innovation challenge (remember OCR Product Design?);
  • assessed the portfolios using ‘paired assessment’ techniques – building on the work of TERU and the e-scape project;
  • required students to present their portfolio via an online viva (remember Oxford A level Design?)
  • consisted of 3 GCSE specifications:
    • Design and Technology: Food
    • Design and Technology: Product Design (replacing Resistant Materials, Textiles, Graphic Products)
    • Design and Technology: Engineering (replacing Electronic Products, Systems and Control)

(Or would a single specification called Design and Technology, encompassing all material areas, be even better?)

What do you think? We want to know how you think D&T should be examined at 16+ - please get in touch!

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