After years of deliberation, speculation, and quite frankly, long overdue, the reform is almost here. With less than half a term until the long-awaited Design & Technology reform officially comes into play, for me, it couldn’t come soon enough!

Personally, I can’t wait to get stuck into the new specifications on offer, opting for OCR myself at both GCSE and A Level. It begs the question why has it taken this long for such a seemingly significant change and developments to be made by the powers that be. In a subject that is all about embracing and exploring the latest technology, industrial practices and techniques, these “changes” shouldn’t appear to be so significant, but it appears that shockwaves are being felt throughout D&T departments across the country.

Ultimately it’s all down to how you interpret the new specs. Yes, the content that pupils are now required to learn is far broader and encompasses elements of textiles, graphics, resistant materials, product design and good helping of systems and control, but is this a bad thing? It doesn’t mean that every D&T department now needs sewing machines and soldering irons otherwise their pupils will fail, far from it. If anything, the new specs allow for a large amount of flexibility in terms of outcome and centres can tailor their projects to suit. However, thankfully, the age-old perceptions will begin to disappear as forward-thinking departments start to churn out working prototypes rather than “innovative tables, chairs and 90o corners”

The developments regarding the submission of pupils’ “Non-Examined Assessment” material is certainly one of the most beneficial developments in my opinion. Having recently taken up a HoD position, experiencing the trials and tribulations of coursework collation and submission from “the other side” was certainly an eye-opening experience. The biggest sticking point for me was the feeling of how accurately does this A3 portfolio represent my pupils work? Yes, you can cram an awful lot of research, sketches, annotations and images etc. into an A3 portfolio, either printed or digital, but does it do the pupil justice? Many centres do this very well, and the pupils respond to a set framework, structure and order but what about those pupils who don’t? This will be a problem that we will always face and will forever continue to do so but with the shift towards an iterative approach, the format becomes less important. OCR, especially, are not expecting to see an all singing all dancing portfolio beautifully presented in an A3 flip file but would much rather see a series of digital documents, videos, voice clips, annotated images etc. The list goes on, but one thing is for sure, gone are the days when a single file or printed folder needs to be presented for moderation.

The question we all now face is how do we embrace these developments and what will work best for my pupils. One thing that is for certain is that there has never been a clearer opportunity to exploit the latest technology that our pupils use day in day out to record their work. There are a multitude of different options available, Kapture8 being one of them, that embrace what is now “everyday technology”. There’s no doubt that your pupils will be very much used to snapping photos, shooting short video clips, tagging their friends and compiling posts limited to 140 characters, so why not bring that knowledge into the classroom/workshop allowing your pupils to document their work as they go in a modern way?

Kapture8 have developed an online platform and mobile app that eliminate the age old problems that surround producing a portfolio whilst providing the opportunity and experience to enable creative mind-sets and working in an iterative manner!!!

It allows students to learn through doing and focus on their learning not only recording it, the simple to use features help the students to become organised, the improved workflow reduces amount of time spent on assessment providing good quality feedback.

It’s not technology for the sake of technology – it is technology that helps and enables! The freedom to choose how you record your work and then it not being misplaced in folders or drives is actually quite empowering! Design and Technology is about designing, making, prototyping, failing, getting back up and problem solving – It’s not about the portfolio with pretty titles!


Jon Taylor
Head of Design and Engineering
Cranleigh School, Surrey

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