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“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Steve Jobs


At Essa, we want to inspire, engage and challenge children by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to become confident designers and technicians of the future. Our curriculum is ambitious and engaging and allows children to develop a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject.


The children deepen their understanding of Design Technology through learning key facts that are organised into four interrelated disciplines: focusing, designing, making and evaluating (substantive knowledge). Disciplinary knowledge is taught by giving the children the opportunity to explore existing products, evaluating these before following a design brief to design and make their own product.


The knowledge and skills that the children develop are progressive from EYFS to Year 6 and reflect a range of contexts including home, school, leisure, culture, enterprise’ industry and the wider environment.


When selecting the content of the curriculum, teachers have taken into account what the children need based on their prior knowledge through hands-on experiences we aim for children to leave Year 6 with some knowledge and skills of DT which will inspire children to chefs, engineers, carpenters, designers and architects.

Knowledge and skills are progressive from EYFS to Year 6 and to ensure that this progression is embedded, we use 'Big Ideas' as 'golden threads'.


The 'Big Ideas' for DT are:

  • Cooking and Nutrition

  • Mechanics

  • Structures

  • Electrical components

  • Textiles

These golden threads run through our curriculum planning from Reception to Year 6 and allow children to explore common themes across different units of work. Careful consideration is given to building a schema of DT knowledge  and following a well-sequenced curriculum to allow children to make links over time and between themes.


For example, in EYFS, children use a range of materials, tools and techniques to junk model pirate ships. In KS1, this is built upon through children using a range of materials, tools and techniques to design, plan and build a structure. This is further built upon in KS2, where construct shell structures from nets, and then enhance their knowledge and skills by building small frame structures from wood.


The introduction of key vocabulary is built into each lesson and then included in display materials and additional resources to ensure that children are allowed opportunities to repeat and revise this knowledge. Our DT curriculum is designed as a keep up rather than a catch up model and through regular retrieval practice and exit tickets, the children are able to build on prior knowledge, and teachers are able to access which concepts to focus on again. We recognise that sometimes the curriculum may need to be adapted to meet the needs of particular learners. This is achieved by:

  • Additionality in adult support for fine and gross motor skills and an adaptive approach to the use of tools 

  • Print outs of work/presentations to scaffold with written tasks such as the design and evaluation process

  • More time allocated to process information or instructions broken down into manageable chunks. 


We aim to, wherever possible, link work to other disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art. For example, children in Y4 are given the opportunity to 3D print a shell structure, children in Y2 study the architect Zaha Hadid and Y5 and 6 have to weigh and measure carefully in their cooking units.


Design Technology implementation


The curriculum is built on the foundation of three 'Es':

Entitlement or core curriculum offer

The development of DT skills begins in EYFS through physical development and expressive arts and design. The children have the opportunity to begin to build their knowledge and skills through daily continuous provision, completing weekly challenges and other enhanced provision. In KS1 and KS2, DT is delivered in units of work across the year and children are given the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in a range of contexts. To develop our children's cultural capital, we encourage visitors into school to talk to children about using DT in the real world..


Children who demonstrate a love of DT have the opportunity to develop this in a number of ways:

  • DT activities available in the hub at lunchtimes

  • Educational visits

  • Whole school display for parents

  • Visits to the school art gallery 




Children who excel in DT have the opportunity to pursue their talents in a number of ways:

  • Links with the academy DT department for use of facilities

  • Specific clubs focusing on STEM e.g. 3D printing club

  • STEM department forms part of the pupil leadership team

  • The opportunity to have their work featured in the school gallery



All of our school community (staff, senior leaders, governors and children are involved in measuring the impact of our Design Technology curriculum in different ways. This is planned for through the School Development Plan, and using our annual monitoring cycle and termly development plan to map out monitoring and review over the year.


Impact is measured by:

-       Collecting data from formative assessments (whole-class quizzes, assessment cups, exit tickets)

-       Pupil voice to determine what children have remembered over time 

-       Staff voice to determine effectiveness of provided planning and the impact of professional development

-       Parent voice in our annual survey

-       Reviewing learning in DT booklets

-       Reviewing progress made against steps to success each lesson and across a sequence of lessons

-       Governor visits to evaluate different areas of Design Technology

An impact statement is written each term by subject leaders to assess effectiveness of current provision, progress against objectives on action plans and inform and identify next steps.

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