Toys are story of design shake-up;Briefing;Document of the week

9th July 1999 at 01:00
Technology in the new millennium will be more computer generated. Sarah Cassidy reports in the final part of the TES guide to curriculum 2000.

DESIGN and technology must provide children with the skills they need for the 21st century, Education Secretary David Blunkett announced in March in the run up to the publication of the new national curriculum.

The new design and technology programme of study for 2000 aims to do just that. It gives more focus on computer skills and includes use of materials and processes which would have almost unheard of when the curriculum was first introduced.

The review of the wider national curriculum was intended to reduce content and increase flexibility. In design and technology this has meant a cut of around one third of the primary curriculum. The new programme has also been made much clearer for all age groups and now takes teachers through the process of designing and making a product. Repetition of skills has also been reduced by combining designing and making skills.

Design and technology, currently compulsory for all five to 16-year-olds, remains so under the new curriculum. Lobbyists for non-core subjects like history and geography had argued for core subjects to lose their compulsory status for 14 to 16-year-olds to give students more flexibility. But Mr Blunkett opted to retain the current range of compulsory subjects.

Infants will begin by investigating their own toys and objects around them while juniors consider the needs of consumers.

The range of materials used by primary pupils has been reduced with the removal of construction kits from the curriculum. The requirements to "disassemble" and use "structures" have also been removed to increase flexibility and because these topics were felt to be well-covered under sections on evaluation and working with materials.

At secondary level, the study of food becomes compulsory for 11 to 14-year-olds for the first time. This is intended to improve pupils' knowledge of food hygiene and health and is already covered by most schools. However, curriculum advisers recognise this will be expensive for the few schools which currently do not offer food technology.

The secondary curriculum also recognises the need to refocus design and technology. Pupils will examine how products are made in the industrial world and much more emphasis will be placed on computer skills.

GCSE students will now spend more time examining the subject's links with industry and the wider community. The programme of study also suggests ways of linking design and curriculum into citizenship provision by considering the cultural, moral and environmental issues involved in designing a product.

The full proposals are available from the QCA orderline 01787 884444. The consultation ends on July 23 DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.

Key stage 1: pupils build on their earliest experiences of investigating toys and objects around them. This develops their imagination and encourages them to express their preferences. They explore how familiar things work and communicate their ideas as they work. They design and make safely and start to use ICT as an integrated part of that designing and making.

Key stage 2: children extend and deepen their experience. They consider the needs of the users of products. They make suggestions about how to proceed and identify alternatives, as well as areas of success and areas for development in their own and others' products. They draw together and apply knowledge and understanding from other curriculum areas when forming practical solutions. They also use ICT when gathering information and when using a control program as well as in other relevant contexts.

Key stage 3: pupils design and make products, working with a wide range of materials. They work out their ideas with greater technical precision, taking proper account of functional, economic and aesthetic factors. They use elements of mathematics, science and art in their work and use ICT applications, including computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacture, as an integral part of designing and making.

Key stage 4: students present personal responses linked to their interests to design and make assignments. Pupils engage in projects linked to industrial practices and working with the wider community. Frequently, projects involve enterprise activities where the pupils are involved in establishing a market opportunity, designing something to meet a need, manufacturing the product and evaluating how effective their whole process has been. They consider the effects of technology on the development of society and their own lives, and appreciate the balance of advantage and disadvantage in those developments.

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