Teach Primary - Independent Review of Projects on a Page

Published 3rd December 2015

Teach Primary conducted an independent review of our primary scheme of work - Projects on Page, we firmly believe that every primary school in the country should have a copy of this great innovative scheme, if you have not done so already, read the review below or in January 2015's issue of Teach Primary.

Essential D&T Scheme of Work

Reviewed by: John Dabell

Children love a hands-on approach. They love designing, making, touching, seeing and tasting.  They love solving problems and watching their ideas take shape. That’s why it has always amazed me that design and technology isn’t king of the hill in schools. Twenty-five years ago, Britain became the first country in the world to enshrine D&T in the National Curriculum, and it has been vital in ensuring future generations keep designing and making.

With no D&T there would be no Grand Designs, and no Great British Make Off.  So, if you’re looking to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, designers and computer scientists, it’s time to
think seriously about putting D&T back in the spotlight. But where to look? Well, the obvious place is the Design and Technology Association. This bunch are passionate about the subject, and their primary working group and consultants have produced a national scheme of work for KS1 and 2 called Projects on a Page, and it’s a corker.

The scheme is made up of 15 extremely competent and immensely usable A3 project planners. One side of A3 provides the kit’s important building blocks that should be included to achieve good practice. At first this can look a bit mind-blowing, as there are 20 chunks of text to consider (which can be electronically edited), but each planner follows this same 1-20 building block format. These
include things like what aspect of D&T is being covered, what children could design and make,
purpose of products, cross-curricular links, key vocabulary, key skills and health and safety.

There are three types of D&T activities contained in the planners from investigative and evaluative activities and focused tasks to design, make and evaluate assignments.  So, it’s all there, very well thought out, and can be seen together on one page. And there is certainly more flexibility with this scheme than with other more prescriptive approaches, as you discuss with your class what products
they will design and make, who they will be for and what purposes they will perform. The planners also work well because they are context-free, making it easier to link D&T to cross-curricular topics or themes.  On the other side of the planners you get something called ‘Instant CPD’ which is a brilliant collection of teaching tips, ideas, and techniques.

The guidance on offer is presented in a very user-friendly format and is refreshingly different from schemes you may have used before. It contains all the pointers you’ll need, with examples, sketches, diagrams and visual elements to help put things into practice. And all planners come with a glossary too. The format is a delight because it comes in a colourful helpsheet layout, so you feel like it’s on your side and doing all it can to support you.  The scheme comes with a handy guidance booklet which shows you how to use the planners to get the best out of them, and includes sections on long-term planning, crosscurricular links, building on the EYFS, assessment and progression and progression framework. It ticks all the right boxes, as it covers the new National Curriculum
requirements, enables you to be creative and plan successful projects and it helps children design, make and evaluate functional products with users and purposes in mind. It is a marvellous resource for addressing the essentials of good practice in D&T.

Verdict:

When a subject is in decline it’s often a lack of subject-specific training for teachers that is undermining it, and that’s where the Design and Technology Association could help.  The best schemes of work include expert guidance on approaches, interesting activities, and resources
that nurture pupils’ understanding.  They are also living documents subject to regular discussion and review, which help staff develop their expertise.  Projects on a Page looks more like an active scheme of learning to me that is admirably fit for purpose.  If you don’t know whether your latest class project fits more into the art curriculum or is a genuine piece of D&T, then get stuck into this new and
innovative scheme of work and consider joining the Design and Technology Association. In this rapidly
advancing modern world you only need to look around you to be really inspired. Then tell your head how important D&T is.

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