Wesley Till offers primary co-ordinators some strategies for improving standards.
How can the design and technology co-ordinator work effectively in a primary school? The recently published Subjects and Standards report from the Office for Standards in Education suggests that "a stronger role for co-ordinators in the planning for DT, together with time for in-class support of their colleagues, would improve pupil achievement".
Design and technology co-ordinators are responsible for writing and keeping relevant subject documentation up to date. This includes the school policy for design and technology, guidance note and scheme of work, including actual design and technology activities.
Co-ordinating teaching throughout the school means establishing collaboration between key stages and year groups, and having an involvement in the process of assessing, recording and reporting design and technology. At the same time, in reviewing design and technology provision in the school, the co-ordinator needs to monitor the quality of the teaching and learning that actually goes on.
With responsibility for staff development and support, the co-ordinator will need to advise and support colleagues in planning and teaching the subject. Identifying resource requirements, ordering, maintaining, organising and managing the storage of design and technology tools, equipment and materials will fall upon his or her shoulders.
External liaison will involve the local education authority advisory service (if still available), other schools and higher education institutions as well as keeping up to date with external developments.
Subject co-ordinators are frequently seen by colleagues as the fountain of knowledge. Although this may not always be the case, in the management structure of most primary schools it is the co-ordinator who has the responsibility of developing and supporting their subject. For instance, making decisions in consultation with colleagues about the use of resources such as Design and Technology Association guidance materials or appropriate construction kits.
First and foremost it should be remembered that the co-ordinator is there to improve the quality of the teaching and learning that the children receive relating to design and technology. The co-ordinator can improve standards in design and technology through a combination of strategies: * Being involved with curriculum planning for their subject throughout the school, ensuring that the programmes of study are covered, and that a clear progression of work builds on pupils' previous experience.
* Being able to offer realistic advice and good ideas to colleagues. While co-ordinators need not feel that they should be experts at all aspects of their subject, they should aim to build up a resource base of activities, background reading and support material to cover the varied aspects of DT.
* Monitoring standards and progress throughout the school.
* Setting good examples by displays in classroom and prominent places throughout the school, and raising the profile of the subject.
* Working alongside colleagues in their classrooms. One strategy at the top end of key stage 2 is for subject co-ordinators to exchange classes for specialist teaching.
* Organising appropriate staff development opportunities for their colleagues. These could range from after-school workshop type sessions, through to whole-day Inset activities. Outside providers such as the local education authority or local university could be used, although it is essential that the co-ordinator is also involved in planning the content of the sessions.
* Finally, the co-ordinator needs to ensure that an adequate range of tools, equipment and materials is available, building a system for resource allocation and storage. Some schools may be able to use a specialist practical area.
The introduction of Department of Education and Employment-funded courses has enabled co-ordinators throughout the country to benefit from training. These courses, originally named 20-day courses, are now frequently shorter. Many LEAs also offer a range of courses covering particular aspects of design and technology. In its findings, OFSTED (1996) comments that class teachers and particularly co-ordinators, frequently report that good in-service training has improved their subject knowledge, confidence and expertise; lesson-planning and efficient use of resources.
Next month DATA is publishing its Primary Co-ordinators File for design and technology, covering aspects of the co-ordinators role including management, curriculum planning, health and safety and subject knowledge and its application. Available (Pounds 12.50 members; Pounds 20 non-members) from DATA, 16 Wellesbourne House, Walton Road, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire CV35 9JB. Tel: 01789 470007 Wesley Till is deputy headteacher and design and technology co-ordinator at the Hugo Meynell CE(C) Primary School, Staffordshire