Consultation Announced on Revised AS and A level D&T and GCSE Engineering Subject Content

Published 3rd December 2015

The Department for Education published the remainder of the revised subject content for consultation. The list of seven GCSEs and five A levels which will be taught from 2017 includes D&T A level and GCSE Engineering.

Full details of the consultation can be found on the DfE page.

In parallel to the department publishing the consultation on GCSE and A level subject content, Ofqual will be consulting on proposals for assessment arrangements in these subjects. These documents can be viewed on the Ofqual page.

The revised GCE AS and A level content builds on the publication last month of the revised subject content for GCSE D&T. The new A level Design and Technology subject content sets out the basis for Awarding Organisations to write specifications which include one or more of three endorsed titles:

  • Design and Technology (Product Design). This is concerned with the design, development and realisation of domestic and commercial products that meet the needs and wants of users and clients
  • Design and Technology (Fashion Design and Development). This is concerned with the design, development and realisation of products for the fashion, clothing and textiles industries
  • Design and Technology (Engineering). This is concerned with the design, development, construction and use of control systems, machines, devices and structures

As with GCSE, the content document includes an appendix that sets out the mathematical and scientific knowledge seen as necessary to support decisions made in the processes of designing and making.

The revised GCSE engineering content has an increased level of demand through a greater emphasis on systems-related content. This includes mechanical systems and their application within engineering scenarios; electrical/electronic/programmable systems; and the requirement for students to have knowledge and understanding of structures. Students are still required to carry out a design and make project, but the emphasis is now clearly on responding to a given brief. This contrasts with the proposals for GCSE D&T  where students will be expected to develop their own brief having considered a specific context.

In parallel to the department publishing the consultation on GCSE and A level subject content, Ofqual will be consulting on proposals for assessment arrangements in these subjects. These documents can be viewed on the Ofqual website.  We will be publishing our initial response to each of the consultations shortly. We believe that for the A level consultation it is the views of universities which are critical and the D&T Association will be looking to ensure that, as well as our members, as many higher education institutions take part in the consultation as possible.

Food Technology

The consultation document includes a statement relating to food technology: 

'Food technology has been removed as an endorsed route within design and technology, as feedback from higher education practitioners and subject experts indicated that it did not fit comfortably within this subject. We have decided not to develop a separate food A level, as we have done at GCSE. There are already a number of high-quality vocational qualifications available post-16 in food-related subjects, including those with a focus on food nutrition. For those students wanting to progress to a career in food, there are career-specific vocational qualifications, for example in confectionary/butchery. For students wishing to progress to a degree in food nutrition or food science, top universities offering food science/nutrition related courses have told us they are looking for students with science qualifications for entry to their courses, rather than food-related A levels.’

Following the earlier announcement that Cooking and Nutrition GCSE will replace Food Technology with first teaching from  September 2016, the D&T Association continues to express concern that the type of activity undertaken in food technology courses is no longer encouraged and does not agree with the view that the use of food 'did not fit comfortably within this subject’. It also believes that the considerable scope for the use of food as a medium within education that goes beyond teaching cooking and nutrition is being ignored. The announcement regarding A level and there being no intention to provide a post 16 qualification makes it very clear that Government’s focus is on cooking, nutrition and catering. 

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