DESIGN and technology is now firmly established in England's curriculum. As teachers start to implement Curriculum 2000, it is reassuring to see that the new content has built on current good practice. Only minor revisions are needed and already the QCA national scheme of work has been updated.
What are some of the key issues now?
Initially all schools will need to check their policies and schemes of work to ensure they are covering the minimum requirements. Primary schools that have put Damp;T on hold over the past two years may now need to adjust time allocations.
Second, we need to highlight more specific links with other subjects during planning, particularly literacy and numeracy. This does more than give children opportunities to apply their skills, knowledge and understanding in real contexts: time is also used more effectively. There is detailed support for planning in two books from DATA: Developing Language Through Design and Technology, and Developing Mathematics Through Design and Technology.
Third, we need strategies to raise standards. Often children are just asked to draw their design, so that aspects such as generating ideas, researching, manipulating materials, modelling and planning are rushed or omitted. The whole process is important if children are to gain a real understanding of not only what they are making but of why and who for.
Schools can also develop links with industry, team working, and environmental awareness. Now confidence is growing in the delivery of the subject, teachers should be able to extend some of the basic projects that they have tried over the past few years.
No major alterations to documentation or practice will be necessary for primary Damp;T for those schools that have already based their work on the 1995 national curriculum document and the QCA Scheme of Work. This checklist helps identify quickly what needs to be done:
* Reassure staff that minimal changes will be needed if good practice exists and that there is plenty of help at hand.
* Familiarise yourself with the key content changes to the national curriculum: Disassembly no longer appears as a separate word but children will of course look at parts of products and how they are put together.
Structures no longer appears as a separate heading but is included in work on materials. Children still need to know about strength and stability when making.
ICT receives more emphasis at KS2.
Hygiene in Food Technology is now explicit.
Construction kits are still to be used for modelling but not as a material from which final products should be made.
Attainment targets: there is now only one, which combines designing and making.
* Check your school policy to ensure it is appropriate to the ICT at KS2, to hygiene in Food Technology and to the structures and materials requirements.
* Check your scheme of work against the updated QCA scheme, which came into all schools before the summer. It is non statutory but offers a broad and balanced example and covers the national curriculum requirements.
* List what now needs to be done, how you will do it and when. This may be through staff meetings, circulars, discussions with individual year groups or whole key stages.
* Identify what support staff will need and identify where you will access the support. A good starting point is the DATA website www.data.org.uk and primary publications. The Co-ordinator's File is still relevant and gives advice on all aspects of the role and the helpsheets give practical support for each of the units in the QCA Scheme of Work. Curriculum Bank books for KS1 and 2 (Scholastic) provide a range of activities and photocopiable sheets for classroom use.
Clare Benson is Professor of Education at the Faculty of Education, UCE Birmingham and Director of CRIPT (Centre for Research in Primary Technology). Tel: 0121 331 6100. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.ed.uce.uk