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Ready for a challenge

The Design and Technology Association's new chief executive Jenny Jupe looks at what the latest strategy means for pupils, teachers and the association.

There is no doubt that the key stage 3 strategy will become the topic of the moment in secondary schools over the next 12 months. Many, I am sure, will heave a sigh at the enormity of the programme and at the Government's ambitious targets for English, mathematics, science and ICT. Others will wade through the maze of folders, internet information and supporting material, and wonder what the implications really are for foundation subjects and, more significantly, for the design and technological capability of our young people.

We have the chance to share with colleagues our unique contribution to teaching and learning at a time when those outside the subject community have chosen not to recognise the demanding, vital and energising nature of learning through doing.

As with Damp;T, motivation and engagement is at the heart of the KS3 strategy and we must seize the opportunity, building on our established strengths and planning our strategic response.

In reality, the Design and Technology Association (DATA) would go further and suggest that, where the subject is taught well, many of the key principles of the strategy are already in place. They may be in need of fine-tuning and, arguably, some modification to ensure that they meet the current agenda, but the strategy's principles are implicit within good Damp;T in our classrooms, and others may have much to learn from our practice.

So what must be done? How will DATA, as the subject association, support the Damp;T community, recognise and respond to another strategy that seems intensely generic in nature and highly focused on a group of core subjects? Some fundamental questions must be addressed, such as what will the strategy offer to Damp;T? And conversely, what can Damp;T offer to the strategy?'

Most importantly is how will it help pupils' learning and improve their capability to operate as future technologically literate citizens?'

The Damp;T community has already done a lot. Continuously over the past six years, the subject has been the most improved, but it is in the nature of Damp;T to be reflective and to continually look for ways to modify and improve. The national strategy sets an agenda and provides a framework for whole-school improvement, but key to the success is the work of individual teachers and of departments working collaboratively towards improved standards. DATA is poised ready to help individuals and departments respond to the challenge.

Early dialogue with national strategy directors, support from DATA's secondary examinations and assessment advisory group, and pioneering work by DATA consultants, is leading to the development of curriculum specific materials that compliment the generic work of the central team.

Over the forthcoming months DATA will publish details on its website, www.data.org.uk, through membership publications and through regional conferences and meetings. Find out first by visiting the DATA stand at the Damp;T With ICT Education Show - from November 21-23 at Birmingham NEC, Hall 10 - and make sure you embrace the future, without running or hiding.

A curriculum research paper on the KS3 Damp;T strategy, called You can run, but you can't hide! by LT Davies and J Myerson, will be published in the DATA Journal in spring 2003. For further informationEmail: Natalia@data.org.uk. The Damp;T With ICT Education ShowTicket hotline: 1425 272711

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