Among all the changes to GCSE and A Levels over the past three years, the reforms to design and technology have undoubtedly been among the most significant. In response to these, we have worked hard to create exciting new specifications to encourage creative thinking leading to design innovation, and offer progression through all key stages. We have centred all the specifications around the design processes of ‘explore/create/evaluate’, preparing learners to become critical and creative designers, engineers and consumers of the future.
So, more specifically, what has changed at GCSE and A Level, and how do our new specifications address that?
At GCSE, the current range of qualifications is to merge into one single reformed qualification called ‘Design and Technology’. Some may see connections in this to earlier design and technology qualifications, but the vision and purpose of this change is to make sure learners have a strong broad foundation in the principles of design and technology, through understanding multi-material products. It is about beginning to fully understand products within authentic real-world contexts.
Our specification has all this clearly in mind. It helps students to understand and appreciate the design and manufacture of existing products, making them more discriminating purchasers. It helps them to be creative in their approach to work, develop an ability to solve problems, both practically and cognitively. It also encourages them to develop their sketching skills and know how to use digital technologies in designing and creating products. They learn about design practices and strategies used by the creative, engineering and manufacturing industries.
They look at important issues that affect design in the wider world such as sustainability, global issues and user-centred design. They learn about a range of materials and components that can be used to create products including smart materials that respond to changes in light, temperature or pressure.
Students still need to understand core design and technology principles, but the contexts used to apply this understanding can be more specific to the title.
We offer all three titles and they have common elements so you can co-teach the content and deliver more than one. The qualifications enable students to specialise in distinct areas of design and technology that reflect authentic practice, giving an insight into the way that creative, engineering and/or manufacturing industries function.
During the two-year course, students study a range of materials and develop a technical understanding of how products function and how they are made to support the design and manufacture of their own design solutions. They learn about wider design principles and the effect of design on users and the world we live in.
They identify market needs and opportunities for new products, initiate and develop design solutions, and make and test prototypes.
At OCR, we are encouraging freedom in approaches towards designing and making so as not to limit the possibilities of project work or the materials and processes being used.
Although the qualifications aren’t due to be first taught until September 2017, we highly recommend incorporating the principles of these qualifications in teaching and learning as early as possible. Considering the teaching groups that might exist at both GCSE and A Level may be the best place to start this thinking.
At OCR, we have design and technology Subject Specialists who have come from teaching in the past two or three years and who have had earlier industry experience in a variety of fields. Please get in touch with our team if you would like to discuss working with the new specifications.
Jonny Edge - Subject Specialist - Design and Technology
Jonny joined OCR in April 2014 as a Subject Specialist within OCR’s Maths and Technical team. Jonny has been leading the development of the reformed GCSE (9-1), AS and A Levels in Design and Technology, and responsible for the commissioning, creation and delivery of resources and CPD events for the subject. He also looks after many of the legacy qualifications and run a consultative forum for Design, Technology and Engineering to ensure that we are hearing from all subject stakeholders to build the perceptions of Design and Technology both within and outside of OCR.
Jonny has taught Design and Technology and led departments in Design and Technology, working in both secondary comprehensive and independent schools in the East of England. He has also completed a Master in Education in Arts, Culture and Education, all of this following 12 years working in the design industry.