Our vision for DT
At Woodlea, we believe that Design Technology has an important place in our curriculum. Leyland is a town that is built on the success of the automotive industry (Leyland Motors) and internationally important firms such as BAE and Jaguar Landrover have facilities in the North West. In fact, both firms provide fantastic career pathways for local young people. Design Technology develops important problem solving skills in children and encourages them to embrace experimentation and a culture of learning from mistakes. All great designers have got where they are through following an ‘iterative’ process. For instance: Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka (co-founders of Sony) made many mistakes with one of their first products - an electronic rice cooker that burned the rice instead of cooking it!
At Woodlea, we aim to create children who are willing to try and try again, recognising that the first attempt isn’t always the best and that mistakes are a natural part of learning and designing. We want our children to learn how designers and engineers work to solve problems that make a difference to the lives of all those around us. We hope that by the time children leave us in year 6, they have gained a range of practical designing and making skills in addition to an understanding of the importance of problem solving and re-evaluation in creating products to meet our needs. We also aim for our children to recognise that, without designers, many of the items that we take for granted In our lives would not exist.
How we implement our curriculum
Our curriculum is based around investigation and experimentation with structures, mechanisms, textiles and food. The skills that are taught in each year group build upon those taught in previous years. All of our units begin with looking at existing designs and their designers, for example when looking at bridges children will look at the work of engineers / designers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Sir Norman Foster and Santiago Calatrava. Children then progress onto learning the skills and techniques needed in realising their design before moving on to the build process.
Throughout the process, children are encouraged to follow an ‘iterative’ process of evaluating what is working well and what needs to improve to make their product fit for purpose. Children are encouraged to make items that work and fulfil a purpose, rather than just make a ‘model’.
The impact of DT in our school
Children enjoy and value their learning in DT. In their learning, they work with a sense of purpose. They produce work that reflects their own ideas, rather than just copies an example made by the teacher. Children from Woodlea move on to high school having an understanding of basic skills and processes and a recognition that DT is an important subject. At Woodlea, DT provides opportunities for children who may struggle academically but excel with ‘tinkering’ and practical making skills to shine and feel a real sense of self-worth.
Lockdown DT challenges
Children at Woodlea have been working hard to complete design challenges inspired by the James Dyson foundation ‘challenge cards’. The week 1 lockdown challenge saw children make a marble run, they didn’t quite manage to make their runs last 1 minute but they have shown real ingenuity, problem solving skills and an iterative design process.