Design and Technology helps pupils to develop the ability to design and make products with creativity and originality, using a range of materials and techniques. The Design and Technology Department is staffed by three experienced teachers with varying areas of expertise. This structure provides rounded support to creative pupils, no matter where their particular strengths lie. Examination boards continue to give high credit to pupils who undertake innovative work, including projects with a very high CAD/CAM content. Shiplake aims to provide a working environment which allows pupils the freedom to do this. 


The Design and Technology Department features two traditional teaching workshops. One is predominantly used for woodwork whilst the other is set up for metalwork. Both workshops feature quality, modern equipment including a state-of-the-art laser cutter.

This major investment by the College will benefit pupils across all year groups. The machine can be used to cut, score and engrave materials including plastic, wood, card and fabrics. This will be especially useful for GCSE and A Level coursework projects, as it facilitates ambitious and adventurous design projects. The cutter improves build-quality of prototypes and models, as the precision of measurements and cuts is vastly enhanced compared to free-hand execution.

The Department also has a versatile classroom area and computer suite with networked PCs, CAD software, printing and scanning facilities.

Additional Opportunities

As part of the GCSE and A Level courses, pupils enjoy several day-trips including visiting the Design Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and attending design seminars in London. Pupils are often granted additional supervised access to the Design and Technology workshop outside of timetabled lesson time. This can be used to work on coursework projects or, within reason, to experiment with new product ideas.


Key Stage 3

In Years 7-9, the subject is explored through a series of practical projects. This stage of the curriculum is highly focussed on experiences of product analysis, enabling pupils to ‘learn through doing’. Teachers exemplify individual stages of the design process to develop skills and knowledge in readiness for examination levels. Schemes of work are constantly reviewed and updated, to allow pupils to make the most of the workshop equipment.


Approximately two thirds of each year group opt to continue Design and Technology at GCSE. At present, teaching follows the AQA Resistant Materials specification. Pupils are required to develop their knowledge of woods, metals, plastics and composite materials. Pupils will be taught how to use a number of 2D and 3D software packages and will have access to state-of-the-art equipment when completing their coursework. It is useful, although not a requirement, for candidates to have studied the subject at Key Stage 3. The GCSE specification then provides an excellent route into studying the subject in the Sixth Form.

The new syllabus is designed to foster awareness amongst candidates of the need to consider the sustainability and environmental impact of their designs. It continues to provide candidates with the opportunity to design and make a product using a range of materials. As part of the course, pupils will enjoy several day-trips, including visiting the BMW Mini factory in Oxford for a guided tour of the production line.

The course will be assessed across both practical and theoretical assessments. Pupils produce a design portfolio to accompany their practical work, which makes up 60% of the assessment. The other 40% is made up of a 2 hour written exam.

Sixth Form

Creative and practical Sixth Form pupils who have been successful in Design and Technology at GCSE (ideally attaining a B grade or above) are encouraged to continue the subject at A Level. A good foundation in art is also advantageous as drawing skills become increasingly more important, as well as in Mathematics and Science.

This qualification emphasises two key factors: creativity and sustainability. The three-dimensional design course challenges pupils to produce a number of practical outcomes, either freely designed or in response to an externally-set problem or theme. Students develop a number of necessary practical skills including modelling, cutting and fastening.

The A Level qualification can lead to further studies in design or, in combination with other subjects, can keep open a wide range of options for further study and careers, such as architecture, product design, furniture design and theatre design. Proven ability in both practical and theoretical studies is often beneficial and gives a degree of variety to job and UCAS applications.