Draft D&T GCSE subject content consultation

Published 3rd December 2015

Consultation on the second published version of the Design and Technology draft GCSE subject content was announced today by DfE. This 8 week consultation period follows revision taking into account the response from the autumn term 2014 consultation. Take a look at the Draft GCSE subject content, the consultation and how to respond. Read the DfE’s announcement from Schools Minister, Nick Gibb.

The D&T Association believes that what has emerged provides an excellent platform on which the Awarding Organisations (AOs) can build specifications that will better meet the needs of young people, employers and the country.

The proposals confirm the intention to offer a single title qualification for the subject called Design and Technology. It will provide greater opportunities for students to be creative and innovative in their design and making and will also enable teachers to develop GCSE courses that better reflect the true nature of designing and making activity. The D&T Association recognises that the move to a single title may be causing some teachers concern.  However, maintaining the status quo and continuing with a series of sub-categories, limited by discrete, restrictive lists of materials and processes, has not served the subject’s development well in the past and, we believe, will not do so in the future. The Association is firmly of the view that the move to a single subject title will help D&T become better understood and valued, as well as allowing students to design and make using single materials, or a range of materials, appropriate to the challenge they are working on.

That is not to say that the material-specific knowledge and skills currently being taught are irrelevant.  Nor is it to say that teachers’ specialist knowledge will no longer be important – quite the reverse.  From the student’s perspective, it will mean GCSE can build seamlessly on the Key Stage 3 programmes of study and provide enhanced opportunities to work in a variety of contexts, applying appropriate knowledge, skills and understanding in more sophisticated ways. This will be drawn from a range of fields including textiles, electronics, systems and control graphics, and a wide range of other materials. Part of achieving the ‘increased rigour’ demanded, is the increased importance put on technical knowledge and principles. In addition, specifications will have to make reference to the use of mathematical and scientific knowledge when designing and making.

A heavy responsibility now lies with the Awarding Organisations. They have to grasp the opportunity presented and make sure that the new specifications require realistic approaches to designing, reward innovation and risk taking, remove the tyranny of the portfolio and develop new assessment models. If they do this they will produce not only better qualifications, but also help modernise D&T teaching and learning in both Key Stages 3 and 4 and significantly enhance its value and status with students, parents, employers and further and higher education. It is unrealistic to expect AOs to do this alone and the D&T Association is ready and willing to support AOs who want to lead this change.

We are anticipating that following the consultation period, DfE will publish the final version of the subject content in the autumn term and that AOs’ first draft specifications will start to emerge toward the end of this year. Final specifications are likely to be in school by late spring which will provide plenty of preparation time for first teaching in September 2017.

We urge all D&T teachers and others with an interest in D&T to engage in the consultation process. The D&T Association will be publishing its response on our website shortly.

NB Following closely on the heels of GCSE review is the development of the GCE A level D&T subject content. We are expecting an additional consultation process to be announced that considers this in a few weeks time. 


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