The National Curriculum – Mission and Purpose
The National Curriculum has been modified over the past two decades to provide pupils with an introduction to the core knowledge that they need to be educated citizens. It introduces pupils to the best that has been thought and said; and helps to create an appreciation of human creativity and achievement (DfE, 2013).
The National Curriculum acts a framework document (guideline) to education. According to Bourdillon and Storey, the school curriculum is more important than the National Curriculum since it includes all aspects of school life and organisation that affect teaching and learning, not just the content or syllabus (Bourdillon and Storey, 2002). Furthermore, the school curriculum tends to reflect upon the local community, parents, pupils and central government (Bourdillon and Storey, 2002).
The role of Design and Technology in the School Curriculum
Design and technology (D&T) was first introduced to the school curriculum in England and Wales in 1989 and is now firmly established as an important part of the curriculum in many countries (Owen-Jackson, 2008). The subject is set to introduce practical and technological skills through creative and innovative thinking (Owen-Jackson, 2002a). Using an activity-focused approach, a high-quality design and technology education is aimed to give the pupils opportunities to create, innovate, design, make and evaluate a variety of well-crafted products.
According to module 1A the main learning objective is to use critical and creative thinking whilst considering the latest technologies and the impact of future technological developments on the products and their purposefulness. Using the design and technology syllabus in conjunction with the school curriculum students are aimed to develop the thinking ability to improve quality of life and to solve problems as individuals and also as members of a team. Furthermore, D&T has its own distinctive knowledge, understanding and skills, as pupils are required to apply the skills, knowledge and understanding from other subjects, including Arts and Design, Mathematics and Science (Rutland, 2002).
The D&T syllabus meets these objectives by giving the students the opportunity to (DfE, 2013):
Understand food and nutrition and have the opportunities to learn how to cook.
Work in fields such as materials (including textiles), horticulture, electrical and electronics, construction, and mechanics, where they will develop valuable practical skills and use these safely with a range of resistant and non-resistant materials, drawing media, tools and equipment, in both 2-D and 3-D
According to the Department of Education the expected outcome is for students to be able to (DfE, 2013):
Develop confidence in using practical skills and become discriminating users of products.
Design and make well-crafted products that are fit for purpose.
Develop and use a range of common practical skills.
Understand and, where appropriate, use the design cycle of planning, developing prototypes, modifying, making and evaluating.
Know about good design, everyday products and use correct technical terminology.
Investigate the rich history of design and technological innovation in Britain and further afield, from the Industrial Revolution onwards, as well as current innovations.
Personal Experience of the impact of D&T onto the school curriculum
D&T has distinctive teaching aspects such that its model of teaching and learning not only draws upon different learning styles than other National Curriculum subjects, but also employs a richer range of learning styles (Kimbell and Perry, 2001).
During the first placement, some projects in Food Technology and Textiles were observed. Throughout, it was noted that the design loop was implemented (figure 1). In this model, the problem / idea were first highlighted and the students progressed through linear steps to a final solution / outcome…