Design Technology

GCSE Design and Technology Rationale

Students follow the GCSE Design and Technology AQA specification. 50% of the course is based on theory of core, specialist and designing and making principles, the other 50% is a Contextual Challenge which starts in June of the first year of study. Students choose a brief that interests them from a choice of three.

Exam breakdown

50% 35 hrs coursework, 50% 2 hour exam.
In addition: at least 15% of the exam will assess maths and at least 10% of the exam will assess science.

The teacher will provide any necessary resources to assist with theory, coursework including the practical outcome and exam preparation. AQA text books, revision guides and past exam papers. However-quizes and other useful information will be available on line.

Q-How is the exam structured?

  • Section A-Core technical principles (20 marks) A mix of multiple choice and short answer questions assessing a breadth of technical knowledge and understanding.
  • Section B-Specialist technical principles (30 marks) and one extended response to assess a more in depth knowledge of technical principles.
  • Section C- Designing and making principles (50 marks) a mix of short answer and extended response questions.

Students will be set ‘low stakes’ written tests throughout their first year to allow them to develop confidence and check their theoretical learning in preparation for the written exam in their final GCSE year. Practical skills and coursework developed will be assessed regularly over the course of study to support their progress and learning.  One to one tutorials will be given to students to discuss effective progress and development.

Q-How many sections is there in the design and make task?

Assessment criteria:

  1. Identifying and investigating design possibilities (10 marks)
  2. Producing a design brief and specification (10 marks)
  3. Generating design ideas (20 marks)
  4. Developing design ideas (20 marks)
  5. Realising design ideas (10 marks)
  6. Analysing and evaluating (15 marks)

Q-What should be included in the final portfolio?

Reviewing contextual challenges, reviewing primary/secondary research, a design brief and design specification, initial design ideas, refinement and development of ideas, prototyping, evaluative decision making, high quality 2D/3D images of proposals, planning/timelines, modifications and evaluations, final prototype of finished product etc. Worth noting that when we moderate will expect to see everything that the learner has used in the development of the design and make project.

The typical steps of iterative design for user feedback are as follows:

  • Complete an initial design and present the design to several test users.
  • Note any problems had by the test user and refine the design to account for/fix the problems.
  • Apply the iterative design process to the first prototypes through to the developed 3D outcome, repeat steps 2-4 until user problems are resolved.
  • When properly applied, iterative design will ensure a product or process is the best solution possible. When applied early in the development stage, significant cost savings are possible.Other benefits to iterative design include:
  • Serious misunderstandings are made evident early in the lifecycle, when it's possible to react to them.
  • It enables and encourages user feedback, possibly resulting in modifying specifications and costings.
  • The designer is forced to focus on those issues that are most critical to the product and shield them from irrelevant issues.
  • Continuous, iterative testing enables an objective assessment of the project's status.



Year 9/10

Year 10/11

Autumn 1st half term

Health and safety in the workshop

New and emerging technologies

Industry and enterprise

People, culture and society

Production techniques and systems

Informing design decisions

Unit test


Targeted revision for mock exam

Written mock exam 2hr paper October

Identifying and investigating design possibilities, 10 marks – component 2

Developing a Design brief and specification, 10 marks




Autumn 2nd half term

Energy, materials, systems and devices

Energy generation and storage

Modern and smart materials

Composite an dtechnical textiles

Systems approach to designing

Electronic systems processing

Mechanical devices

Unit test

Revision for mock exam

Written mock exam 2hr paper December

Generating design ideas, 20 marks

Developing design ideas, 20 marks





Spring 1st half term


Mini project:

Wood joints, cutting finishing techniques/CAD/CAM.

Generating and developing design ideas, 2D and 3D drawing techniques

Materials-paper and boards

Timbers, metals and alloys and polymers

Unit test

Manufacturing a prototype, 20 marks

Practical exam for component 2 February

Exam revision




Spring 2nd half term


Common specialist technical principles

Forces, stresses, 6rs, scales of production

Improving functionality, ecological and social footprint

Unit test

Analysing and evaluating design decisions and prototypes, 20 marks

Exam revision


Summer 1st half term

Timber based materials

Sources and origins-working with timbers

Commercial manufacturing

Unit test

Written exam 2hr paper




Summer 2nd half term

Designing and making principles

Investigating primary and secondary data

Design strategies and the work of others

Communication of design ideas

Selecting materials and components

Tolerances and materials management

Tools, equipment, techniques and finishes

Surface treatments-Unit test

Course completed 








Curriculum Assessment

Students will be given theory tests in lessons to assess their success and areas for improvement with all theory topics.  Students will sit two DT written exam papers in the Autumn term of their final GCSE year as practice before they sit their final written exam in the Summer term.