National Curriculum: Design and Technology

Prior to 1989 subjects such as CDT (Craft, Design and Technology - still then often called woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing in schools), Home Economics, Textiles (or Needlework) and Electronics were all separate subjects in secondary schools.

Since the introduction of the first National Curriculum in 1989, these subjects have been taught under the single heading of Design & Technology, with the common requirement to develop skills in designing and making alongside a materials-technology knowledge base.

The first version of the design and technology National Curriculum (NC) was highly ambitious, and insufficiently supported by adequate in-service training. As a result, it was hastily revised and simplified and a further major revision in 1995, in which greater provision for understanding industrial production, was made. The 2000 revision strengthened the role of CAD-CAM and introduced the use of ‘SMART’ materials. A further revision in 2005 introduced the study of sustainability.

From specifying numerous compulsory ATs and detailed PoS in 1989 covering Years 1 to 11, the demands have been gradually reduced to what is now a single Attainment Target for Key Stage Three only. Contributions by Business education, Art and IT have been dropped. The role of the teaching of traditional cookery as opposed to Food Technology has been a continuing subject of debate.

Alongside the publication of the statutory requirements for the National Curriculum have been a wide range of guidance materials produced by government agencies such as the NCC, School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), alongside professional organisations such as Design and Technology Association (DATA) and NATHE.

This collection aims to provide a single source for all such design and technology NC documents and as such to provide a timeline of the development of design and technology in schools.


Design and Technology in the National Curriculum 1995

The 1995 National Curriculum Revisions for Design and Technology, which defines the much simplified Programmes of Study (PoS) for each Key Stage and the level descriptions for AT1 and AT2. The requirements for Information Technology were separated and published separately.

By this stage it had become clear...

Design and Technology for Ages 5 to 16: Proposals of the Secretary of State 1989

A report from the National Curriculum Council (NCC). The final proposals published in June 1989 added considerable detail to the new approach, and made some minor alterations to the Attainment Targets.
There are four main sections in this document:
1. Design and technology in the National Curriculum...

Issues in Design and Technology 1991

These INSET resources from the National Curriculum Council (NCC) provide a range of activities for teachers of Key Stages One to Four to help them achieve continuity and progression in their design and technology lessons. The programme gives a picture of the practice at the time (1991) in a rapidly changing area of...

National Curriculum Design and Technology Working Group: Interim Report 1988

A report from the National Curriculum Council (NCC). An initial consultation report in November 1988 proposed an ambitious, broad, integrated approach to a range of design and technology-related subjects explored through a wide variety of contexts. It recognised the complex relationship between the knowledge and...


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