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National Curriculum

Planning and assessment in design and technology


Planning across the key stage

The revision of the key stage 3 programme of study provides an opportunity to review and refresh your sequences of work.

When reviewing planning across the key stage, developing new sequences of work or revising existing ones, you should consider the following.

Where are the opportunities to develop pupils’ experience of the key concepts?

Your planning should support the integration of the key concepts into teaching and learning across the key stage. Not all the key concepts will be addressed in each individual project. However, if a concept is introduced in one product area, it should be built on at an appropriate time during the study of other product areas throughout the key stage. When addressing the concepts relating to cultural understanding, for example, some ways in which designing and making reflects and influences culture and society could be introduced in a food activity. That theme could be developed further in a later textiles project, and subsequently in greater depth when working with resistant materials. This approach will ensure that pupils progress in their understanding and build on earlier experiences.

How can planning ensure that pupils make progress in the key processes?

Pupils will revisit the key processes, for example applying knowledge and understanding of materials, ingredients and technologies, at various points within the range of product areas across the key stage. You should plan for an increase in demand at each point to ensure that pupils continue to be challenged. By sharing information on the way that sequences of work encourage progress in the key processes, teachers can ensure that, together, they have an overview of each pupil’s progress throughout the year and across the key stage. Pupil progress can be helped by providing fewer but larger blocks of teaching time, possibly involving two teachers working collaboratively in two focus areas.

How can the curriculum opportunities in the programme of study be built into teaching and learning?

Pupils should be given opportunities to experience the range and content described in the programme of study by analysing products, undertaking focused tasks, and engaging in design and make assignments.

Pupils should be encouraged to integrate ICT into all designing and making processes as appropriate (you may decide that this is more relevant in some product areas than in others). You should plan specific points within sequences of work where knowledge and understanding from other subjects can reinforce learning within stimulating design and technology contexts. Some of those contexts should draw on the local ethos and community.

Continuity across the key stages

To make good progress pupils need continuity and opportunities for development across the key stages. To achieve this, curriculum planning at key stage 3 needs to:

  • build on and extend pupils’ achievements and experiences at key stage 2

  • provide pupils with a clear sense of how teaching and learning is helping them develop their knowledge, skills and understanding, and of what they are aiming to achieve by the end of the key stage

  • prepare pupils for the demands of the subject at key stage 4.

Key stage 2

The curriculum at key stage 2 provides pupils with opportunities to investigate and evaluate a range of familiar products, to think about how they work and how they are used, and to consider the views of the people who use them. These activities provide a foundation for product analysis, which is a curriculum opportunities requirement at key stage 3. These activities also relate to understanding users’ needs and the problems arising from them, which is a range and content requirement at key stage 3.

By the end of key stage 2, most pupils are able to design and make using a range of materials including electrical and mechanical components, food, mouldable materials, stiff and flexible sheet materials, and textiles. Most can develop, plan and communicate ideas for products in these product areas and can work with materials, tools, equipment, and components to make quality products. Most pupils can evaluate the processes they have used and can assess their own and other pupils’ products.

Key stage 3

The design and technology programme of study for key stage 3 builds on the knowledge, skills and understanding that pupils acquire during key stage 2. During the key stage pupils develop and use criteria, evaluate the impact of products and solve technical problems. Pupils select and use an expanding range of skills, techniques and equipment, apply deepening understanding of the behaviour of materials, and use feedback to develop their work.

By the end of the key stage, most pupils are able to use their time effectively throughout the designing and making processes. Most can apply knowledge, understanding and skills in the product areas. Most are able to analyse products in detail, and are able to design and make products in appropriately complex contexts. Most pupils can use knowledge and understanding from other subjects and from outside school during designing and making, and can integrate the use of ICT into these processes.

Key stage 4

At key stage 4, pupils develop, plan and communicate ideas and evaluate processes and products in ways that progress from the 'designing' section of the key stage 3 range and content. Pupils work with tools, equipment, materials, ingredients and components to make quality products. This activity builds on the 'making' sections of the range and content in key stage 3. Pupils apply knowledge and understanding of materials and components, again building on the key stage 3 'designing' and 'making' sections.

By the end of key stage 4, most pupils are able to provide clear evidence of how they applied knowledge, skills and understanding in design and make assignments in one material area and in activities related to industrial practices.

New opportunities

The revised programme of study offers you many opportunities to refresh and renew your curriculum, making it broader and more relevant in ways that will inspire and engage learners. Some of the key themes that underpin the revisions include:

Increased flexibility

The revised programme of study at key stage 3 provides schools with the freedom to innovate as they make ‘the importance of design and technology’ statement come to life. Departments now have greater flexibility to offer experiences that will challenge pupils and be responsive to pupils’ needs. The changes provide teachers with opportunities to draw on and reinforce learning from other subject areas.

A focus on the use of technologies

The programme of study stresses the importance of integrating ICT into relevant designing and making activities. This requirement is emphasised as pupils generate, develop, model and communicate ideas. The revised programme of study also recognises the continuing need to engage pupils’ interest and increase their confidence in using new technologies for image capture and generation, data acquisition, capture and handling, controlling and product realisation.

An emphasis on thinking creatively and on improving quality of life

This is encouraged by deepening pupils’ understanding of the key concepts. Pupils learn that designing and making has an influence on, and is influenced by, the world around us. As a result, pupils realise that they have the potential to make an impact on and improve the quality of people’s lives through the products they develop. By making links, carrying out investigations and seeing possibilities, they are inspired to be creative and innovative in their approaches.

Solving problems as individuals and as team members

There are many opportunities for pupils to work individually and in teams as they respond creatively to design briefs, develop their proposals, and produce specifications for products and associated services.

Working in stimulating contexts and drawing on the local ethos and community

Activities that draw on examples from local industry and involve input from members of the community will broaden pupils’ understanding of the key concepts of cultural understanding and of designing and making.

Encouraging critical engagement

There are valuable opportunities for pupils to analyse products and solutions and become discriminating users of products when addressing the key concept of critical evaluation. There are also opportunities for them to evaluate the needs of product users and to explore the impact of design decisions.

Planning for inclusion

Planning an inclusive key stage 3 means thinking about shaping the curriculum to match the needs and interests of the full range of learners.

These include:

  • the gifted and talented

  • those with special educational needs and disabilities

  • pupils who have English as a second language

  • the different needs of boys and girls.

Pupils in the school will also bring a range of cultural experiences and perspectives, which can be reflected in the curriculum and used to further pupils' understanding of the importance of the issues of diversity.

An inclusive curriculum is one where:

  • different groups of pupils are all able to see the relevance of the curriculum to their own experiences and aspirations

  • all pupils, regardless of ability, have sufficient opportunities to succeed in their learning at the highest standard.

You may find that a useful starting point to planning for inclusion could be to consider your own school's Disability Action Plan, Race Equality Plan and other equality policies alongside a comprehensive overview of the data available on pupils from various groups. This can then be used to draw up a useful framework for curriculum review. You will also be able to identify appropriate points to involve learners themselves in some of these developments.

Support for assessment

Assessment is an essential part of normal teaching and learning in all subjects. It can take many forms and be used for a range of purposes. To be effective assessment must be ‘fit for purpose’; being clear about what you want the assessment to achieve will determine the nature of the assessment and what the outcome will be.

When planning assessment opportunities consider the following:

Purpose – What is the assessment for and how will it be used?

Does it form part of ongoing assessment for learning to provide individual feedback or targets so that the pupil knows what to do next? Is it to provide an overall judgement about how the pupil is progressing against national curriculum levels? Related to this is the need to consider how the purpose of the assessment affects the frequency of assessment. For example, there should be sufficient time between level-related judgements to allow a pupil to show progress, whereas to be effective the assessment of ongoing work should be embedded in day-to-day teaching and learning.

Evidence – What are the best ways to gather the evidence needed to support the purpose of the assessment?

Assessment shouldn’t be limited to a narrow range of evidence. Any meaningful judgement of progress or attainment should be based on a range of activities, outcomes and contexts This could include assessing the learning as it’s happening through observation, discussion or focused questioning; involving pupils in the process through peer or self-assessment; or sampling a range of work over a period of time. If there are areas where you don’t have sufficient evidence you could either adjust your planning or use a more focused task to fill the gap. The gathering of evidence also needs to be manageable. With care, the same evidence may be used for a variety of purposes.

Outcome – What form will the assessment outcome take and how will it be used?

Depending on the purpose of the assessment the outcome could be a level judgement of progress over time or a specific and measurable improvement target for the pupil. Effective use of the assessment outcome results in actions, such as providing an instant response or planning for the longer term. The best means of communicating assessment outcomes should be considered. For example, it might be through written feedback or a discussion. The outcome may also provide you with valuable information for your future planning, by identifying areas that need to be revisited by a class or individuals to secure understanding, or by revealing gaps in curriculum coverage where there is no evidence of achievement in a particular area to assess.

This approach to assessment is applicable in all subjects but has been further developed in English, mathematics, science and ICT through the Assessing Pupils’ Progress (APP) materials.

Further guidance on gathering evidence, integrating assessment, periodic assessment and the role of tasks and tests can be found in the assessment section of the website.

Further guidance on day-to-day assessment and peer and self-assessment can be found under the assessment section of the website.

Exemplification of standards and approaches

QCDA is working with schools to develop exemplification materials that will demonstrate effective ways of collecting evidence and providing feedback through assessment for learning and periodic assessments in subjects. The materials produced will show how assessment practice within and between subjects can support learning, embed standards and be part of effective teaching of the revised programmes of study. They will:

  • demonstrate ways to collect evidence of pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding as seen in their talk, actions and outcomes

  • provide examples of manageable ways of collecting evidence

  • include evidence of subject standards.

These exemplification materials will be available from the assessment section of the website in 2010.


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