The primary design and technology curriculum

Scissors in classroom
Is your child a budding designer? We take a look at what design and technology lessons involve.

The primary design and technology curriculum invites children to investigate how well familiar products meet the needs of those who use them. They learn how people's needs (whether imagined or real) drive new designs and how things are designed.

Unlike other national curriculum subjects, in design and technology lessons children are encouraged to apply their own ideas practically - designing and making them. They then ask how well the product works or how it could be improved. So it gives children a significant degree of autonomy and control, which is probably why most children enjoy the subject.

Cross-curricular design and technology

Because the subject is about ‘material culture - products, places and images', design and technology touches practically every area of the curriculum. This means your child will apply knowledge and understanding gained in other lessons (science, mathematics, history and so forth). They will also work with a wide variety of materials and ingredients (textiles, mechanical parts, food stuffs, wood, plastics and ICT). The subject also offers an opportunity for children to think about the environment and the impact of different designs on it.

Given the nature of subject and the tools and materials children work with, health and safety obviously plays a major role in teaching, too. Teachers must carry out a risk assessment as part of lesson preparation by considering the materials, tools and equipment being used. During food technology, general hygiene will be taught, such as ensuring surfaces and hands are clean, as well as safety issues when storing and preparing different types of foods or using a cooker. In textiles or woodwork, the teacher may observe pupils' safe use of a sewing machine or drill and then present them with a certificate to prove aptitude.

What children learn

Design and technology offers opportunities for children to:

  • learn designing and making skills
  • build up their capability to create high quality products through combining their designing and making skills with knowledge and understanding
  • nurture creativity and innovation
  • explore values about and attitudes to the made world and how we live and work within it
  • develop an understanding of technological processes, products and their contribution to our society.