Last week Practical Action’s education unit loaded up a van with tables, chairs, posters, fliers, laptops together with bags of enthusiasm and headed off to the Design and Technology ( D & T) Show at the NEC in Birmingham. It was my third time exhibiting at the show and as with the previous two years I was struck by how valued and respected out work in Design and Technology is by teachers, teachers trainers and examiners. As I was talking to some students about our sustainability handbook a teacher trainer came along, patted a copy and said ‘We call it the sustainability bible and recommend it to all our students’. Needless to say both students then bought a copy!
This year we were able to show our new revamped website, in particular the great new D & T section. We ( the royal we that is, my colleague Bren has done all the work!) have been working hard to make the website a lot more user friendly. Teachers can now easily access starter activities, activities focusing on the 6R’s and go into their material areas such as product design and textiles to find case studies and material information. The feedback to this was fantastic. Mick Johnson from More House School said ‘ I have been really struggling to find decent resources and now at last i have’
What I feel has changed in three year has been the interest in STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) material. Three years ago a lot of D & T teachers hadn’t even heard of STEM. This year however we had people seeing our material on display, stopping at the stand saying ’ahh….. great , you do STEM’ . Our STEM challenges which inlcude our new Global CREST challenges as well the Small is Challenge and the ever popular Squashed tomato challenge proved a huge success. Many teachers are now keen to integrate more STEM related activities both into their day to day teaching and to use on collapsed curriculum timetable days. I had one teacher say their school was putting aside one lesson every two weeks to STEM related activities, and many others saying they were involved in STEM clubs.
Whatever the future of D & T looks like we are certain that sustainability will remain an important part of future teaching in UK schools, and a more integrated STEM approach is definitely here to stay. By responding to feedback on what teachers need and ensuring our resources are in line with the changes in education we can be confident that our work will continue to be respected and in demand.