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Design boost

GCSE coursework presents a problem to the design technology teacher. With the start of the new GCSE courses, I decided to revise how I managed this section of the student's work. As a result the percentage of A* - C grades has gone from 46 per cent four years ago to 96 per cent last year in my subject - Graphic Products.

The main secret of success is time management. I start the coursework after October half-term in Year 10, and break it down into two or three-week sections spread over the five terms. This particularly benefits the boys, who traditionally can't cope with long-term deadlines. In between times we complete focused practical tasks designed to help with the next coursework section. This also allows me to monitor what the students are doing and allows them to put right mistakes in each section of the work. I am now preparing students for the designing assessment objective by teaching and practising sketching and enhancement techniques, designing fast-food packaging.

The other main benefit is that all students produce a good piece of coursework by February half-term, with minimum stress.

It's a huge incentive to prepare thoroughly for the exams in June. Some teachers view the exam boards' putting a 40-hour cap on coursework negatively, but I take it as a chance for students to produce work of really high quality, as some of the pressure is taken off. We have time to complete more in-depth graphics work and it's a much more enjoyable time.

Ralph Edwards, design technology teacher, Balcarras School, Cheltenham, Gloucester

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