Industrial Practices, Systems and Control at Key Stage 3 (Rome wasn't built in a day either!)

  • Jenny Jupe Selly Park Technology College for Girls, Birmingham


Curriculum development inevitably challenges any design and technology department. This article sets out the challenge of adapting an existing learning programme to include industrial practices, systems and control in all focus areas. It then uses food technology to exemplify how the changes were made, the INSET used to support professional development and the resulting work with pupils.

Rather like the building of Rome, good curriculum development doesn't happen in a day! However, like a Romanesque model with its complexity of arches and vaults, the department set about making the transition from an early structure to a more comprehensive, well designed, learning programme. At the outset we recognised that the programme would never be complete - new ideas/interpretations would come along while old ideas would need renovation, but it had to be exciting for teachers to teach and children to learn. From its foundation, it had to build on team strengths and use continuing professional development to overcome weaknesses. Like a roman a these we set out to demonstrate our firm belief - that is, the belief that at Key Stage 3 the best teaching and learning occurs when pupils are taught by a maximum of two design and technology teachers in anyone school year.

We cannot claim that the model was our own concept, indeed the diagram explaining this came from the 1995 Key Stage 3 Guidance Materials published by DATA. But we set out to demonstrate to ourselves and, more crucially, our curriculum managers that it had many advantages over other models that had previously been imposed. Of all the perceived benefits of this structure, it most usefully enabled pairs of staff to plan commonality and progression into the work. They could also identify any problem areas, for instance how to approach particular activities, at what level to pitch the work and how to generally support each other. Much informal staff room conversation took place chatting through these and other issues and inevitably served to cement the team together.

From the paired work and discussions that took place, one area of weakness emerged as being common across all members - our lack of knowledge and subsequent teaching about current industrial practices, systems and control. It wasn't all negative however, nearly everyone in the team had some industrial experience through teacher placements or because of previous employment. But we certainly thought we fell into that category identified by Ofsted in the 1995-1996 findings, when they reported that:

";;Teaching of product analysis, systems and control are the areas which commonly received insufficient attention.";;

The same report usefully suggested that:

";;High standards in all aspects are closely related to INSET.";;

Subsequently the process of making renovations began. Into the department development plan were written targets which would ensure the issue remained in focus and gave justification for the INSET requests. It must be admitted that much of the professional development came from self help:

  • auditing and sharing what we knew
  • desk top searches for good support - materials/ideas
  • industrial contacts
  • work with our EBP
  • review of GCSE syllabuses /GNVQ specifications.

    By far the most useful and influential advice came from an INSET session entitled 'How to Teach Industrial Practices, Systems and Control in Food Technology Successfully'. Whilst the course focused on one material area within design and technology, much of the content was generic and had relevance to all areas. During the dissemination process, particular aspects of the course were shared, interpretations made and curriculum changes proposed. Of particular significance were these issues raised by Ofsted:

    ";;Issues of progression are not sufficiently addressed. Teachers tend to set the same work for the whole class and expect each pupil to work to accomplish the tasks with insufficient or inappropriate resources and too little direct teaching. As a result, pupils only respond at an average level for the class, rather than achieving their potential. Limited learning takes place; knowledge, understanding and skills are not extended; the result is significant underachievement.";;

";;More attention needs to be given to proViding continuity of experiences and progression in building knowledge, skill and understanding from one project to the next. Where there is a modular, or carousel system, this needs particular attention. Work in one unit/project/module, when taught later in the year, should differ in detail from the same module taught earlier. Generic designing and making skills should be developed rather than simply repeated in different projects.";;

";;...need to plan progression from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4 more carefully. Secondary teachers often undervalue and discount what pupils have done in their primary schools. Often they will have developed particular autonomy in selecting appropriate materials. However, they may not have a broad range of experiences in using the tools, materials and equipment commonly used in secondary schools. Greater liaison is essential if transfer is not to retard pupils' development. Similarly transfer from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4 must be carefully planned, otherwise pupils may find themselves with unaccustomed freedom which they are unable to use effectively in less structured circumstances.

In some respects this gave us confidence. We felt our delivery model, based on two teachers over 12 months, would help to ensure continuity and progression. Nonetheless we heeded the warning not to be complacent about progresion from one Key Stage to another. It was, admittedly, more difficult to plan for the Key Stage 2/3 interface, but syllabuses and specifications allowed easier planning for progression at the Key Stage 3/4 interface. In the course handbook Farrell identified aspects of industrial practices, systems and control which help to tease out the essentials.

Author Biography

Jenny Jupe, Selly Park Technology College for Girls, Birmingham
Head of Design and Technology
How to Cite
JUPE, Jenny. Industrial Practices, Systems and Control at Key Stage 3 (Rome wasn't built in a day either!). Journal of Design & Technology Education, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 3, july 2009. ISSN 1360-1431. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 17 aug. 2022.
Curriculum Development - Secondary