D&T Curriculum


Design & Technology Curriculum Statement


At Norlington School the curriculum is ambitious for all students and is designed to: recognise children’s prior learning, provide first hand learning experiences, make links to careers and the world around us; allow the students to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience; be creative and innovative; become problem solvers and critical thinkers.

Everyone is welcome in our Norlington family and student diversity is celebrated in the department as students learn about the work of other designers from a range of cultural backgrounds and throughout history. The curriculum examines real world issues such as inclusivity and sustainability. Students are given opportunities to challenge existing solutions to problems and explore their own design concepts; evaluating their impact whilst obtaining third party feedback in order to iterate and improve in a meaningful way.

The ability to learn is underpinned by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge, concepts and values in design. As the students’ progress throughout the cycles; knowledge and skills are cumulative and to ensure prior learning is not lost; students regularly revisit previous topics as part of the cycle structure.

We believe design should be immersive and strive to give all students an outstanding and consistent learning experience in the department. In line with our school vision and aims, we provide enhancement opportunities in the form of extra-curricular clubs; competitions and visits to design events. Student leadership is an important part of developing our students’ character and helps prepare them for life beyond Norlington, we provide multiple opportunities for students to lead activities in the classroom, we two designated Student Leaders for every lesson. Students of all year groups are supported academically throughout the year by means of departmental clubs and support sessions. The department holds an extra period six weekly to support the GCSE NEA project.

Students are given opportunities to collaborate and lead as well as work independently.

Curriculum Overview 
Key Stage Three

At KS3 we follow the National Curriculum Programs of Study, where Design & Technology is taught in four strands:

  • Design
  • Make
  • Technical Knowledge
  • Evaluate

Students will develop their knowledge of design and build their skill level by completing a range of design communication activities. Students will deepen their understanding of the design cycle by carrying out more complex tasks as they move through from Year 7 to Year9. As student’s progress through the curriculum; the level of challenge increases as students move from novice to expert to achieving mastery in different topic areas. The curriculum is geared towards preparing our students for the GCSE course so that they can transition smoothly from this Key Stage to the next.

Key Stage Four

At KS4 students will be given more opportunities to work independently on projects. There is a focus on project management and leadership skills. The curriculum is mapped out against the specification requirements and practical skills are enhanced via mini skill based projects.

Examination techniques are practised and consolidated throughout all the cycles via Mock Examinations and end of cycle assessments. Students will also undertake a design and make project for their GCSE NEA.

Students are encouraged to take responsibility and ownership of their project work as they begin to flourish and develop as independent learners in preparation for the A level product Design course. 

Key Stage Five

Students at KS5 have been well prepared for the course during the GCSE and now begin to broaden and deepen their understanding of the place of Product Design in the world around them. Visits to exhibitions help to enhance and create an immersive experience of what it is to be a designer in current society. Learning is beyond the classroom especially as the students take on their NEA  project and we are there to support them as they prepare for University or the world of employment.

Department Mission Statement




We consider the whole learning journey of our students; right from Year 7 through to Year 13 and beyond. We have a departmental learning journey road map in place and on display, this gives students a visual guide to their past and future experiences in our subject and encourages pre-learning as they progress through the Key Stages.

At KS3 students follow the National programs of Study to prepare them for the GCSE: at Norlington we follow the AQA GCSE Design & Technology Specification, this in turn prepares them for the A Level product Design Course. Lessons at KS4 and KS5 are planned in accordance with the specification content and students learn through a variety of activities which promote positive engagement with the subject.

Students are taught both skills and knowledge throughout the cycles. Each cycle links to the previous and builds challenge for the next. There are cross-curricular links as well as focus on the ‘bigger picture’. Students are taught why they learning a topic and how this fits into the wider world or how it can be applied to examination requirements.

Each cycle’s planning includes the following:

  • Prior Knowledge (recall)
  • Skills (metacognition; personal attributes & self-efficacy)
  • Knowledge (new and consolidation)
  • Career Links (Industry opportunities)
  • Looking forward to Examinations (attainment and accessing higher marks)
  • Literacy (reading opportunities; SPAG; command words; academic language; subject specific key terms/words)
  • Maths (drawing; CAD; examination questions; planning & problem solving)
  • Building Challenge (stretch and challenge tasks; building on prior learning)
  • SMSC (tracking document used to weave into cycles)

We have a clear department vision to provide a high quality; engaging and consistent learning experience to promote our whole school ethos of every child all the time. We have a department handbook which outlines our high expectations both from students but also from each other. We set out clear responsibilities within the department and work collaboratively on our curriculum content: reviewing and improving as we respond as necessary to the demands and needs of each new cohort.

We have mapped out our curriculum against the criteria for each key stage, ensuring that all content is not just covered but is re-visited and consolidated. As a team we record content covered and use exam analysis data to plan lessons that plug any gaps in knowledge/understanding that have been identified.

We use our varied skills and expertise within the team to provide extra-curricular opportunities for the students develop their own personal interests such as our KS3 CAD club. We enter our students into national competitions and are looking forward to becoming involved in more real life brief competitions as we move the department forward, in this ever advancing world of technology.

The department has The Learning Hierarchy embedded in its teaching resources and classroom environments. We want students to not only understand what they are learning but also how they learning: what strategies they might need to get to the next level of successfully consolidating the information. Metacognition is a key focus for the department and at at Key Stage Three, students have a smart learning passport which recognises and rewards attributes such as resilience; perseverance;.collaboration and leadership.



 We recognise that fluency in reading enables children to have access to the full curriculum entitlement. We believe it is our role to ensure children leave us being able to articulate themselves clearly, and read and write confidently and effectively. Literacy tasks are embedded into our schemes of learning and are integral to our curriculum approach. We make ourselves aware of the needs of our EAL and SEND students and provide support both in the broad sense, such as keyword translations but also tailored resources for specific educational needs. We work closely with the SEND department to improve strategies to help all our students succeed. We have in place a SEND colleague support guide for our subject, this is to facilitate a collaborative approach to supporting our SEND students with the NEA.

We have an expectation of well thought out quality first teaching and learning, delivered by all. All members of the department use our curriculum mapping document to ensure that learning is sequenced so that students build knowledge and skills over time. Skills and knowledge are considered throughout each six week cycle but also across the whole year: building on, and making connections with, prior knowledge from previous years in school. The department team then ensures there are plenty of opportunities for the students to practice and apply this knowledge in a range of different contexts, so that they achieve deep, long term learning.

In order to effectively evaluate student progress over time; students complete a baseline test at the start of the year which comprises of questions from each of the four strands of Design & Technology. Progress is monitored throughout the year and students complete end of cycle assessments every six weeks, culminating in a final end of year assessment, the results of which can then be directly compared to the baseline assessment at the beginning of the year. All cycle tests include a previous knowledge.


We believe that assessment should be meaningful and so have incorporated a range of formative and summative assessment tools. We encourage peer and self-assessment so that students can gain understanding of markschemes and their indicative content. At the start of each new cycle, students are asked to complete a prior knowledge checklist, which is then revisited at the end of the cycle and re-evaluated for progress made. Formative assessment points are planned throughout each cycle with key pieces of work identified for assessment which will best identify the strengths and weaknesses in each of the four strands for individual students.

Students have assessment tracking documents in their books so that they can monitor and track their own progress; creating meaningful smart targets throughout the year.

Summative assessments at the end of each cycle give on-going data for individuals but also at a class and whole cohort level. We have central markbooks in the department so that outcomes can be analysed across the whole year group and not just one class at a time, thus giving a deeper understanding of whether topics should be re-visited on an individual or larger group basis. Grade boundaries are consistent across each key stage so that we have an accurate view of how a student maybe performing compared to the current cohort or the previous cohort. This also helps us to determine whether the quality of teaching is in line with the school ethos of preparing students to achieve exceptional academic performance regardless of who their teacher is.

Mock exam at KS4 and KS5 are analysed in detail. Each question outcome is colour coded per student and compared across a class and the whole cohort; thus informing subsequent lesson planning where gaps in knowledge may have been identified, on an individual; across a class and on a whole cohort level.

Using the school’s learning Hierarchy framework: students are taught how to recall and retrieve information and apply this to different contexts and at different times. Students demonstrate the ability to not only repeat what they have learnt but also teach others in the class, this can be seen most prominently during practical lessons where students share knowledge and improve their skills by helping each other throughout a project.

We are confident that our strategies for teaching our subject are having a positive impact on the students. We have up to five GCSE classes and consistently achieve results with positive VA scores. The numbers for our A Product Design course have gone up three fold in the last two years.

Our sixth formers spend extra time in the department by choice as they enjoy the positive learning environment. They assist us in mentoring younger students as well as taking on department improvement projects, working alongside staff, all reinforcing our welcoming ethos in the department. Student voice is positive when questioned about the development of the department and we regularly hear that students feel they are part of the department itself and not just visitors. This all fits in cohesively with our school ethos of being a Norlington family. 


Cycle Sheets

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