The subject of Design Technology has a lot to thank Apple for in bringing high level, sophisticated design and innovative technology together in a handheld device. This intuitive design, aesthetic, and focus on functionality in order to make our lives easier is at the heart of studying DT.

The national perception of DT has not always been positive. Thankfully Taunton School has been and still is an exception. We focus on teaching the students a wide range of techniques to provide them with skills for the modern world of work. Along with the more traditional use of resistant materials we also encourage students to experiment with electronics, modern and smart materials. Our hands-on approach to learning shines through in the work we do with Years 9 and 10, enabling students to complete highly sophisticated problem-based projects later on for GCSE, A level and IB.

The use of ICT in lessons

ICT is used heavily in DT. We teach students across the age range how to use the industry standard 3D computer aided design software called ‘Solidworks’. Familiarity with this programme is paramount as our students progress through the school. It allows the students to communicate their idea in a variety of ways, and ensure a high level of development for their projects.

Importance of core skills

Although we encourage the use of ICT, we do also ensure that the students have the basic core skill of being able to sketch in 2D and 3D. This can be an intimidating process for some young people. As a department we ensure they are taught how to present an idea in graphical form, this is the use of pencil, pen, markers, and in some instances, such as in IB, with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. We feel that acquiring the basic tools to generate ideas will allow for a more efficient and clearer design when transferring the idea to Solidworks.

Changes to GCSE and A level

In September 2017 the GCSE and A level specifications will herald a new approach to DT. Here at Taunton School we will be following the OCR specification as their pedagogy and content match that of the department and can provide for us a perfect structure to develop creativity, engineering, practical skills, whilst maintaining students’ enthusiasm.

Within the OCR specification there is an exciting option of Design Engineering which is geared to enhance and develop students’ knowledge of a more systems/control approach to the subject. This will come in the near future to allow for a greater breadth of choice for our students. The content will build on prior learning in electronics, robotics, and programming.

There has also recently been a great focus on ensuring that syllabus content reflects authentic practice, giving students insight into the way creative, engineering and/or manufacturing industries function. Learning about design, technology and engineering strengthens the learner’s ability to use a design thinking approach to problems. I firmly believe that learning how to apply a wide range of techniques via iterative designing will improve a student’s ability to think and innovate in subjects outside DT also. All students and parents are welcome at any time to visit the DT department and see what we do.

Glyn Bough
Head of Design Technology