Design and Technology
In this fast and ever changing world where technology increasingly takes over our lives, an appreciation of what makes for good design is a very necessary life skill. The ability to be able to differentiate between what is good or bad design, the issues of sustainability in the choices we make and identifying key needs of both the user and the manufacturer are what we teach here at Wellington.
We very much teach to the ethos of good design principles as outlined by Dieter Rams last century but still very much at the forefront of design thinking. Some of his ten principles are outlined with examples of what we do and try to achieve with each student through the key stages:
Good design is innovative.
We challenge pupils to look further than the obvious and this comes through looking at existing products and learning how to identify key design criteria used in the design. Drawing skills are taught as are presentation techniques to allow them to explore more easily their ideas.
Good design makes a product useful.
We encourage pupils to explore the criteria used in the design of the product and use these to explore a range of ideas to ensure what they design works in real time but also functions at the right level.
Good design is aesthetic.
We buy products for what they look like sometimes more than their functionality and we look at products that have inspired through the ages. Mood boards for inspiration and good products are displayed in the department to aid with inspiration.
Good design makes a product understandable.
First of all, being able to look at a pupil’s drawing and instantly understand what it is and how it works, forms the basis of our strategy to improve the pupil’s graphic skills whether that is paper based or using the latest design software.
Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
Pupils are expected to investigate all that is needed to create an effective product and this comes through a thorough introduction of tools, materials and processes necessary for the realisation of it. We have a very hands-on approach to project work to allow pupils to feel comfortable in making materials decisions for themselves.
Good design is environmentally friendly.
Sustainability is embedded in the curriculum and indeed forms the basis of nearly half of the examination at GCSE. Pupils are taught awareness of the life cycle of products and encouraged to be discerning in their approach to purchasing new products. The value of the 6Rs relating to recycling, re-thinking etc. form part of the core curriculum and are used in decision making when designing as they have to be part of the designer’s arsenal.
Learning about Design Technology encourages pupils to develop design and thinking skills that open up a world of possibility, giving them the tools to develop the future. Our curriculum aims to engage pupils with contemporary issues covering the breadth of this dynamic subject. Learning is also enhanced with the application of knowledge from other disciplines such as mathematics, science, art and computing.
At Key Stage 3 pupils are engaged in exploring all the material areas available whether that is metalwork, textiles, card and graphics, plastics or wood or computer aided design and manufacture. Projects are set in all these areas; they may be short explorations or more detailed whole projects but the use of iterative design where products are made and then evaluated underpins all we do.
At the end of Year 9 pupils can make the choice to continue to study to GCSE and we follow the OCR specification. This is a very popular subject choice with both girls and boys where they complete one piece of assessed coursework during the two years and sit an exam at the end of Year 11.
A Level is offered and again proves to be a popular choice. Many of the students have gone on to study either design based or engineering degrees. We have had much success with Arkwright scholarships for students; these are awarded at the end of Year 11 for the duration of their Sixth Form study.
Educational visits are important to the enrichment of our curriculum so we visit local manufacturing companies such as Agusta Westland, the Design Museum in London, the Alternative Technology Centre, The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Design Show, whatever fits into and helps the pupils' understanding and learning.
A saw is as important to us as a laser cutter or a 3D printer; they are tools that the pupils learn to use in the right way and in the right context! We invest heavily in ensuring that the necessary and up to date equipment is available and we use industry standard design software (Solidworks). The School is committed to the subject as we understand the importance to pupils of seeing the real world through a designer’s eye.
As Jony Ive says, “we’re not even close to any kind of limit. It’s still so, so new…” So let the exploration for Wellington School pupils begin!