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Design & Technology

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Steve Jobs

At Willow Tree Primary School we intend to build a Design and Technology curriculum which is inspiring, engaging and practical. Design and Technology allows pupils to think creatively and at Willow Tree we encourage children to use their imaginations and provide opportunities for them to design products which provide practical solutions to real and relevant problems. We want pupils to develop the confidence to take risks through drafting design concepts, modelling and testing and to be reflective learners who evaluate their work and the work of others. We encourage children to use mistakes as a tool to further their design process, as making mistakes is essential to the learning process, especially within Design and Technology. Persisting with concepts and adapting ideas when faced with challenges, develops pupil’s resilience and promotes a growth mind-set, which is integral to our school ethos. 

Willow Tree Primary School is in Salford, Greater Manchester, a city which is rich in culture, creativity and innovation. As such, we believe it is important that our pupils gain an understanding and appreciation of the design process which our city is built upon and is essential to our local history and culture. 

Our intent is for all children to participate successfully in an increasingly technological world, whilst also promoting and instilling within them respect for our world, each other and everything in it.

For each year group, we enhance experiences for Design and Technology by linking projects and skills to topic-based work within other subjects of the curriculum, in a meaningful and purposeful context. Lessons incorporate a range of teaching strategies from independent tasks, paired and group work including practical hands on, computer based and inventive tasks. During DT lessons teachers use questioning to assess children’s understanding of what has been taught and any misconceptions are addressed and explained.

We provide opportunities for pupils to develop their skills in the following key areas.

Cooking and nutrition (food)

At Willow Tree, we pride ourselves on being a healthy school and promote throughout the school the importance of a healthy diet. We wish for children to develop an understanding of food, how it contributes to our well-being and where it comes from. Children will develop a food vocabulary by using taste, smell, texture and feel. They will follow recipes and instructions and begin to use scales to weigh out ingredients and also develop food preparation skills such as chopping, mixing and stirring. These will be built upon as pupils move up through the school to ensure progression in each skill. They will Select and prepare foods for a particular purpose and evaluate their product. 


Children have the opportunity to build upon their designing and making skills steadily each year within structures. They will construct with a purpose in mind, using a range of materials and resources. They will learn how to join and strengthen frames. Pupils will gain an understanding of different tools and techniques and select them appropriately. They will develop their understanding of how to make purposeful products which fit the design brief and use trial and error to adapt where necessary. 


Pupils will have opportunities to explore textiles and joining fabrics together throughout school. Throughout each key stage they will develop their cutting skills and explore different stitching techniques. Children will be encouraged to evaluate which stitching style will be most appropriate for a product and use their judgement to decide which tools and types of fabrics are required. 


How things move is explored all the way through school starting in EYFS. In KS1 children begin experimenting with levers and sliders to find different ways of making things move. Moving into KS2 children use mechanical systems such as gears, pulleys, levers and linkages. They move onto incorporating a circuit into a model and use electrical systems such as switches bulbs and buzzers. 

Each of these areas follow the 3 step design process outlined within the National Curriculum; Design, make and evaluate. Each stage is underpinned by technical knowledge.

The Design and Technology curriculum provides an opportunity for children to show clear progression into KS2 with the key skills they begin to engage with in KS1. This improvement of skills is represented in the complexity of the tasks and the expectation of quality and reflective techniques. Evidence of work will be recorded within children’s shared Art and D&T books, where children will record the steps of their design and making process and keep self-assessment records.

After the teaching of Design and Technology we ensure that Willow Tree children develop the creative, technical and practical expertise needed to perform everyday tasks confidently and participate successfully in an increasingly technological world. Pupils build and apply a repertoire of knowledge and skills in order to design and make high quality prototypes and products for a wide range of uses. They evaluate and test their ideas and products and the work of others.

They should leave school equipped with knowledge and a range of life skills that they can carry over into everyday life. The skills and attributes they develop will benefit them beyond school and into adulthood, these include: the ability to work with others productively, show initiative, manage time efficiently, show resilience, self esteem, assertiveness and confidence, develop social skills, communication skills and face challenges effectively in order to ensure well-rounded citizens who will make a difference in the wider world. 


“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, design is knowing which ones to keep”
“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have”

Maya Angelou.