Design and Technology Curriculum Intent Statement


At Co-op Academy Oakwood we are passionate about our D&T curriculum being a vehicle for children’s empowerment through enhanced opportunities in what has been an area of Leeds that has always suffered from high levels of multiple deprivation. For example, 50% of the resident population have no qualifications (https://www.streetcheck.co.uk/postcode/ls83lz). We follow the National Curriculum and have developed our own broad curriculum to deliver insight, creativity and experience (ICE) so that significant gaps in cultural capital can be overcome. Acknowledging that our children come from such diverse cultural backgrounds (46% have English as an additional language), allows us to place a clear focus upon developing their vocabulary so that they can fully immerse themselves in our exciting and inspiring curriculum. Wherever possible the Co-op ways of being are woven throughout the curriculum so to deliver a genuine, long-lasting interest in DT where they get the opportunity to use their imagination and creativity to solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values. 

There are five threads to our D&T programme of study and they are: cooking and nutrition, design and make, textiles, mechanisms and electronics. These five threads have been carefully chosen and interleaved across key stages and year groups so as to support long term memory and acquisition / retention of skills. 

Cooking and nutrition is a key thread that is covered in every year group as childhood obesity is a major problem in the local area and has been historically, with year 6 in the local ward of Gipton and Harehills ranking as worst in Leeds (https://observatory.leeds.gov.uk/) on the deprivation index (48% of our children get free school meals). We give the children an insight into how to eat healthily by providing them with the opportunity to make healthy salads of their own design in year 1, look at different breads from around the world (over 37 different languages are spoken in our school) in year 3, eventually leading to them planting, growing, harvesting and cooking with their own fruit and vegetables in our school garden in year 5. 

Textiles also forms another key thread of our D&T curriculum as historically Leeds was a city built on the textile industry https://www.aleedsrevolution.co.uk/  and many families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh settled in the area to work in the industry. Children begin in year 1 by designing, stitching and making bookmarks, working all the way up to designing and making their own bag in year 6 so that they have something in which to carry their personal profiles home from their school leavers assembly.  

In our design and make thread we draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art so children have the experience of being resourceful, innovative and enterprising. In year 2 children have the opportunity to analyse and evaluate glued/glue-less packaging and get to design their own, reflecting on the importance of recycling. In year 4 they look at different bridge designs and get to apply their understanding of how to strengthen, stiffen and reinforce more complex structures. To gain an insight into modern design practices children use Tinkercad, an online 3D modelling program to generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas. In year 6 children use Lego Mindstorm learn how to create their first computer program and how to transmit the program from the App/Programming software to their robot’s EV3 P-brick (brain). 

Our D&T curriculum has been developed to support children that come from a community where 59% of 16- to 64-year-olds are considered to be semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers, or those on state benefit/unemployed, in effect the lowest grade workers (https://www.streetcheck.co.uk/postcode/ls83lz). We believe that by providing children with an inspiring and rigorous D&T curriculum, we can go some way to addressing this issue and empower children to become enterprising and capable citizens. Our intention is to provide insight so that these valuable life skills will help them to prepare for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. It will encourage them to think creatively to solve problems both as individuals and as members of a team. By designing and making products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, they will consider their own and others’ needs, wants and values in an ever-changing society. Finally, it will provide them with experiences of real-life contexts. We know that they will be inspired by the stories of engineers, designers and architects that they will study across different year groups and we intend that they will hold on to the knowledge and skills they learn so they can have the opportunity of contributing to the future creativity, culture, wealth and well-being of the nation