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Key Stage 3 design and technology explained

Find out about what your child will be doing in their KS3 design and technology classes and help them get ahead at home with our helpful tips.

In Key Stage 3 design and technology lessons, your child will be a lot more critical while thinking about, constructing and evaluating their designs using a wide range of materials, including textiles and food.

The Design Technology curriculum

DT lessons include a variety of creative and practical activities, all aimed at giving pupils  the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to engage in the designing and making process. Their projects will be based on a range of domestic and local contexts (such as the home, health, leisure and culture), and industrial contexts (engineering, manufacturing, construction, food, energy, agriculture, horticulture and fashion).

There are four key elements to the KS3 DT curriculum:

  • Design includes identifying user needs, solving design problems, developing specifications that help them design innovative, functional and appealling products, and communicating their ideas through methods such as sketches, plans, 3D and mathematical modelling, oral and digital presentations and computer-based skills.
  • Make selecting from a range of materials, tools, techniques, processes and manufacture, including computer-aided design.
  • Evaluate involves analysing the work of past and present design professionals, investigating new and emerging technologies, testing, evaluating and refining their own ideas, and understanding how design and technology impacts on people, and the responsibilities of designers and engineers.
  • Technical knowledge includes understanding and using the properties of materials, understanding and using more advanced electrical and electronic systems, and using computing to make intelligent products using programmable components. 

Since 2014, cooking and nutrition has been a separate, compulsory part of the DT curriculum.

Pupils are taught to cook, and also to understand the principles of good nutrition and healthy eating. They're expected to learn to cook a repertoire of mainly savoury dishes, become competent in a range of cooking techniques, such as selecting and preparing ingredients and using utensils correctly, and understand the source, seasonality and characteristics of a wide range of ingredients.

Lesson examples

Here’s what your child might learn in class:

  • Year 7s learn about how evaluation informs the design of products. For example, they might explore how the choice of material can help control costs and how product development often responds to the demands of consumers, as with character toys.
  • ‘Pastry-wrapped sweet and savoury products suitable as a finger-foods' is the design brief given to pupils in Year 8. They discuss ingredients and processes that could be used for the product, explaining why they made particular choices. They then choose a recipe to prepare and cook in class.
  • A teacher disassembles a battery-powered hand-game to allow his class of Year 9 students to see and discuss the circuitry inside. He then shows the students what materials, components and equipment could be used to make their own games.

Help your child at home

  • How well does your child understand the healthy eating guidelines? Test their knowledge by getting them to prepare a simple meal that will encourage the whole family to eat more healthily. Ask them to explain the reasons for their choices.
  • Next time you’re out, notice the design considerations that have gone into the structure of different types of buildings, houses, bridges and shopping centres. Encourage your child to notice how the needs of those who use the buildings have helped to inform the design.
  • What's in your cupboards? Get your child to investigate the types of packaging used for products. How are folds, tucks, adhesives, thickness of materials, reinforcements, weight and finish used to affect performance?
  • Look at the labels from food products to see their nutritional content and claims. Encourage your child to think about the legislation and guidelines that restrict nutritional claims and what would happen if we did not have them?
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