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Russell Lower School

Design and Technology

Our design and technology lead is Mrs R Willis.
The aims for Design and Technology taken from the National Curriculum
At Russell Lower School, through Design and Technology, we want to ensure that all pupils:
  • develop the creative, technical and practical expertise needed to perform everyday tasks confidently and to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world
  • build and apply a repertoire of knowledge, understanding and skills in order to design and make high-quality prototypes and products for a wide range of users
  • critique, evaluate and test their ideas and products and the work of others
  • understand and apply the principles of nutrition and begin to learn about cooking.

At Russell Lower School we want our children to be passionate about Design and Technology and to develop the creative, technical and practical expertise needed to perform everyday tasks confidently and to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world. Our curriculum promotes curiosity, love and thirst for learning as well as preparing our pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

We strive to ensure that our carefully structured and progressive Design and Technology curriculum is in line with the National Curriculum and offers all pupils opportunities to:

  • develop creative, practical and technical knowledge in order to take part in everyday activities
  • build on experiences and previous learning so that the pupils can apply them when making their excellent products
  • evaluate, judge and explore their end products along with the work of others
  • learn about and understand the essentials of nutrition and cooking

Within Design and Technology we create meaningful cross curricular links in order to strengthen pupil’s understanding and knowledge such as when Year 4 use simple circuits and switches to create an electrical system in their memory box theme linked to their science unit of work on electricity. Another example of this has been our use of the Sports Premium where each class was provided with the tools and plug plants in order to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables outside their own classrooms. The children took turns looking after their class plants and monitoring their growth. This activity supported their learning about nutrition and understanding of where food comes from.

We also aim to enrich pupil’s memorable experiences in Design and Technology such as when the children in Year 1 had an opportunity to showcase their work, clay models, to their grown-ups and other children in school during a Year 1 sharing assembly. Linked to their English key text of ‘Supertato’ the children completed the planning, making and evaluating stages of their clay model.  

We also recognize the importance of using Design and Technology as a means of further developing our whole school curriculum and community links though events such as Ampthill Gala, which we take part in every year. All of the children (often support by their adults through an open morning) take part in activities, discussing themes and preparation of props which are later displayed in the Gala.


Our DT curriculum has been carefully re-designed to focus on curriculum sequencing.  This is to ensure skill progression from lesson-to-lesson and year-to-year with a specific focus on deepening and embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. Year group milestone documents have been created in order to support the above and assessment within the subject.

We have developed year group and subject-specific curriculum plans which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of DT is taught discretely in a block; this is due to the nature of the time taken to plan, design, make and evaluate products.  However, staff make meaningful links across subjects through themes. For example, in year 4 they are cooking pizzas while learning about the Romans and linking this to Italian cuisine.  In year 1, children design and make a seaside snack while learning about ‘seasides’.

Within DT, we focus our teaching on the subject content which is outlined within the National Curriculum; design, make, evaluate, use technical knowledge and ‘cooking and nutrition’.

These areas of learning are re-visited and the skills learnt within Key Stage One are re-visited and extended upon in Key Stage Two.  This enables them to link prior skills and knowledge to new learning to deepen their understanding. For example:

-       Early Years: children begin with Physical Development – Fine Motor Skills where they are given the opportunity to use a range of small tools, including scissors, paintbrushes and cutlery.

-       Expressive Arts and Design – Creating with Materials: children are able to safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques.

During their time in Early Years, children are given opportunities to construct during ‘exploring time’.  Many resources are readily available to enrich children’s learning of DT in both the inside and outside environment.  These encourage early physical development and are available for children every day.  Through focussed adult led time, skills are taught and adaptations made throughout the design process.  The children are encouraged to make their own decisions, select suitable materials and develop the language required to evaluate their product.

-       Key Stage 1 - children work on further developing knowledge and skills around designing, making and evaluating.  Cross curricular links are also made where possible, for example when making mechanisms for a fire engine linking to science and electricity.

-       Key Stage 2 - units become more focused around developing further D&T knowledge and skills around designing, making and evaluating. For example, in science, children make simple circuits and explore how switches work when designing and making torches. They are encouraged to learn from their mistakes and evaluate how they could make improvements to their design.

Within all lessons, we are working towards Rosenshine’s 17 Principles of Effective Instruction and use of the Great Teaching Toolkit. Short-term plans set out the learning objectives and success criteria for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them. Through DT, children are given the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in a positive climate as well as plan their own designs.  This promotes children’s autonomy to make their own adaptions and decisions as well as monitor and evaluate their learning successfully.

Within each lesson, there is a very clear and concise LO/WALT.  For example, when Year 1 made Christmas decorations, their learning focused on ‘To join fabrics using staples and glue’.  Key vocabulary is displayed clearly on all slides as well as a focus at the beginning of each lesson on previous learning.  This includes looking back at what is remembered from last lesson/last week/last term /last year.

Within the lessons and more widely across the school the main areas of learning are consolidated through re-cap and reinforcement year on year where pupils progressively build their skills and knowledge and can link prior skills and knowledge to new learning to deepen their learning.

Questioning, modelling and feedback are used to support the teaching and learning process, ensure progression within every lesson and aid assessment.

Our DT curriculum also promotes opportunities to link British Values and Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC) responsibilities. For example, through teaching children perseverance and determination to succeed.

Post lockdowns, we have focussed on Barry Carpenter’s 5 levers; routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom which has resulted in various adaptions and restructuring of the curriculum over the last two years to ensure children are still accessing a well-rounded and rich DT curriculum whilst tackling some of the above.

As we move forward with our DT curriculum we will continue to identify gaps in learning and address these through changes to planning and unit sequencing to ensure the best possibly progress is made.  All aspects of the DT curriculum were taught by all year groups despite Covid-19. Any key skills that were not able to be taught due to Covid-19 will be prioritised next academic year to ensure clear progression and continuity. For example, Year four, were unable to focusing on children chopping their own toppings when preparing pizzas due to Covid-19 restrictions and this was shared with the middle schools.

Long and medium term plans
Milestone example
Further milestone documents for all year groups are available, on request, to demonstrate our skill progression.

In order to measure the impact of our DT curriculum we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Questioning
  • Pupil, parent, staff voice/questionnaires
  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins
  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to milestone documents/National Curriculum for each year

Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in DT as well as indicating areas for development.

Academic outcomes and impact:

For this year we are aware of the following outcomes for DT:

In 2021/22 92% of children were working at ARE+. This year 2022/23 94% of children are working at ARE+.


Other outcomes and impact:

The pupils in every year group have expressed their genuine interest and eagerness for DT sessions at school: ‘I really like DT, making things and seeing how they work…you can learn how to make things and try things you’ve made in school properly’ –year 4 pupil.

This year, children have again been able to plant fruit and vegetables.  This is something that happens through use of Sport premium funding.  This is something that allows children to monitor growth of these plants and support learning with cross curricular links to science and PSHRE.  This also links to nutrition and a greater understanding of where food comes from.  

This year, all year groups from Foundation Stage to Year 4 have all covered all of the DT themes set out in the long term plan. Each year group uses and adapts where necessary the ‘Plan bee’ units of work. 

All children receive high quality, dedicated lessons over the course of the term as well as the DT curriculum linking with many other subject areas in order for children to make meaningful connections in their learning. An example of this is when children in Year Four learn about electricity in science where children build circuits.  This links with designing and making torches for the purpose of camping. 

Children have been given many opportunities to develop their creative, technical and practical expertise needed to perform everyday tasks confidently and to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world. 

They have built a repertoire of knowledge, understanding and skills to be able to design and make high quality products for a range of uses and with a clear purpose in mind.  For example, in Year One, children were asked to design a Christmas decoration using a range of skills for joining materials, cutting and choosing suitable resources.  

Children have been given opportunities to critique, evaluate and test their ideas and products as well as the work and ideas of others.  An example of this is when making a pop up in Year Three, children were encouraged to create a prototype to test out various mechanisms and evaluate their effectiveness before creating their final design. 

They have also had opportunities to understand and apply the principles of nutrition and begin to learn about cooking.  For example, when making food sculptures based on the work of the Artist Arcimboldo in Year One, as well as learning about the importance of healthy eating, providing cross curricular links to Science.