The new single title Design and Technology GCSE - facts

Published 9th December 2016

From September 2017, there will only be one Design and Technology GCSE offered by each of the awarding organisations (AOs).  This both modernises and subsumes the content and assessment procedures represented in the current list of 6 individual titles: Product Design; Textiles Technology; Resistant Materials; Graphic Products; Electronic Products and Systems and Control.

This major change has, understandably, created some confusion and misunderstanding with respect to implementation. The Design and Technology Association provides the following advice to try and address the main myths and misconceptions:

  • The new single title GCSE award builds on the content of the National Curriculum D&T KS3 programmes of study. If these are being followed, most of the subject content will have been already taught. The progression will be in the increased sophistication of its application.
  • The new D&T GCSE will require just as much time to teach as those it replaces, and all the non-exam assessment (NEA) must be completed in the final year of the qualification.
  • Schools will still need the same number of D&T teachers to ensure pupils are taught in group sizes appropriate to a practical subject, whether taught holistically or at times in specialist groups.
  • Teachers with specialist material expertise (eg product design, textiles, systems and control) will still be essential if pupils are to have access to a range of appropriate expertise.
  • Pupils will be required to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of working in at least one ‘material category’.
  • Designing and making remains at the heart of the subject, with the majority of the content best taught through practical activity. Ability to make quality prototypes is an essential aspect of the non-examined assessment (NEA).
  • D&T departments will be just as much if not more dependent on access to high quality and modern equipment, including hand tools, manual machinery and digital design and manufacturing technologies.
  • The new Technical Awards/vocational courses that address some of the same content are not the same as GCSE D&T, nor are they an easy option. As stated by the DfE they should, ‘… complement and support GCSEs, and not be seen as a replacement.’ The Association believes these courses may be perceived incorrectly, by parents and employers, as having lower status than GCSE.
  • For some pupils, Technical Awards may provide the most appropriate course. However, they will not be the best course for all pupils. Schools need to construct their KS4 offer that reflects the range of pupils' abilities and aspirations, rather than providing a limited offer of just GCSEs or just Technical Awards.
  • The new D&T GCSE has been developed to best meet the needs of both young people and the country, in terms of employment and ability to function and contribute to an increasingly technological world. It provides an excellent opportunity to engage all pupils in a subject that offers them real prospects.

Please contact the D&T Association if you have questions or would like further clarification.


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