"On the 16th
of October Kitronik were invited to the iDEAS hub in Bradford by ICSAT (Inspirational Curriculum Support Advice & Training)
to talk to teachers about electronics and to take part in a twilight session looking at the new curriculum. The speaker for the evening was Andy Mitchell from the Design & Technology Association who gave a presentation to nearly 100 teachers on how the new curriculum was going to be structured and assessed. A discussion followed and I thought it was worth sharing some of the topics of conversation.
The subject criteria is currently under consultation for the next month so if you don’t like what you read then make your voice heard before it’s too late! There were a number of key discussions during the evening, the first was about the way the subject was to be structured. At the moment at GCSE a number of disciplines are available so you can specialise in graphics or electronics or products and so on. The new suggestion is that there is one subject for food (food & nutrition) and that there is one subject for D&T. This has some implications, many food teachers were concerned that by splitting food off from the rest of D&T that it wouldn’t have the same voice as it would if it sat under D&T. With the push for healthy eating and attempts to tackle obesity being regularly in the news I’m sure that food & nutrition will be more relevant in the future than ever, and as a subject should be here to stay.
Another impact of consolidation of D&T into one subject is that all schools would need to be able to teach the full D&T content. At the moment a school can decide to only teach Product Design and not offer students the option of Electronic Products, under the proposal schools would need to offer a bit of everything across both subjects.
A number of teachers were understandably worried about whether they had the right skills for the new curriculum, though this can be addressed with a good training programme. The plus side of having one subject is that most students when choosing D&T aren't going to know what their main project is going to be and by including all aspects of D&T they will be able to specialise in the area their project requires.
We discussed the amount of course work or None Examined Assessment (NEA) as they are now calling it. The general opinion was that as this could have ended up being 100% exam with no practical assessment and that a the change to 50% exam and 50% NEA wasn't too bad. This is of course more than the current exam of 40% exam with 60% course work. Given that D&T is such a practical subject is it right to sit back and accept the change, should we even be pushing for a NEA content higher than the current 60%? The way the subject was to be assessed and how many marks would be available for each area was discussed generally this was thought to be sensible and didn't generate much debate.
With many schools starting the main project earlier and earlier there was talk about forcing schools to start it after a set date though when that might be or how it could be enforced wasn't really get addressed. There was also some discussion on the topic of students being talked out of doing an interesting, different, and innovative but risky project and replacing it with a safe project to aid getting a good mark. Could the assessment give marks for innovation for example to try and encourage a bit of risk taking when choosing a more complex project?
The consultation is in two parts with the DfE
looking after the subject content and Ofqual
covering the way the subject is to be assessed. The closing date for comments is the 19th and 20th of November (for Ofqual and DfE respectively) and can be found at the following websites:
Pictures by Andy Mitchell
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