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Design, Engineering and Technology immerses and inspires our students in the field of solving problems and meeting needs through creative solutions. The department is a place where student ideas can flourish to simply make things better.

The subject helps pupils to develop the ability to design and make products with creativity and originality, using a range of materials and techniques. It also teaches them the value of working through many iterations, some of which they may consider to not be the optimum solutions but, in that process, students learn a great deal that supports them well beyond the subject and their schooldays.

We see and teach Design, Engineering and Technology with the ethos and context of the commercial world and within our project work we aim to ensure the students learn to solve problems that meet user needs with an entrepreneurial eye and in a timely manner and this supports students' future endeavours.

The Design, Engineering and Technology Department is staffed by a team of four experienced staff that cover multiple fields of expertise and experience. Students are encouraged to express themselves in fields that interest and inspire them but the department focusses particularly through its project work in all age groups in Product Design, Engineering and Architecture. This suite of focussed areas provides rounded support and solid foundations of skills to creative pupils, no matter where their particular strengths or interests may be.

Examination boards give high credit to pupils who undertake innovative work based on thorough research with creative solutions produced through iterative design and development.

Above all Design, Engineering and Technology provides an environment which allows pupils to enjoy progressing their ideas whilst still ensuring they are given the guidance and support required to ensure they have the opportunity to achieve the grades that give them the academic passport that will allow them to achieve their future aspirations.

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. 


We aim to support students to become well rounded designers. To support that the courses can include projects with computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) content as well as the more traditional communication techniques and manufacturing skills which are also nurtured.

The Design, Engineering and Technology Department features two multi-media design workshops. Both workshops feature quality, modern equipment including excellent tools and state-of-the-art machines such as 3d printers, laser cutters and CNC manufacturing machines.

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

Additional Opportunities

As part of the GCSE and A Level courses, pupils enjoy exposure to inspiring and informative design work through visiting the Design Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, universities and attending design seminars. We also have extensive links and contacts within the fields of Product Design, Engineering and Architecture and our network of contacts and support allows us to provide additional opportunities for students via guest lectures, workshops and site visits.

Pupils are often granted additional supervised access to the Design, Engineering and Technology workshops outside of timetabled lesson time. These are in the form of a Design Engineering Club, an Architecture Club and a Product Design Club. Within these areas broad themes and challenges are set to individuals and groups to ensure the extra-curricular time allows them to further develop and flourish.


Key Stage 3

This stage of the curriculum predominantly enables pupils to ‘learn through doing’. In Years 7-9, the subject is explored through a mixed methods approach where students engage in foundation aspects that build the designers core skills. This is achieved through short practical tasks, short design tasks, product and/or problem analysis and longer design and make projects where they will explore the fields of product design, engineering and architecture through problem solving that meets needs.

The course is mapped to prepare for the GCSE curriculum and 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 this phase of the curriculum.


Approximately two thirds of each year group opt to continue Design and Technology at GCSE. Teaching follows the AQA Product Design specification which allows them the latitude to work in their chosen fields of interest and ability. Pupils are required to develop their knowledge of related materials and processes whilst gaining understanding of the processes and work of professional designers. 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. The GCSE specification provides an excellent route into studying the subject in the Sixth Form.

The course is assessed through design and make tasks and a terminal exam covering technical aspects of materials, processes and issues related to design, engineering and technology in society.

Pupils produce a design portfolio to accompany their practical outcome, which makes up 50% of the assessment. The other 50% is via a written exam. The syllabus is designed to foster awareness amongst candidates of the need to consider the sustainability and environmental impact of their designs. It provides students with the opportunity to design and make a product using a range of materials.

The department has extensive links and contacts within the fields of Product Design, Engineering and Architecture and our network of contacts and supporters allows us to provide additional resources and opportunities to learn for GCSE students.

Sixth Form

Creative and practical Sixth Form pupils who have been successful in Product Design at GCSE (ideally attaining a B grade or above) are encouraged to continue the subject at A Level. However, good foundations in art as well as in Mathematics and Science are also welcome foundations for A Level study.

The A Level course is assessed through the AQA Product Design A2 specification which builds upon the foundations of the GCSE course in more depth but also goes onto emphasise the two key factors of creativity and sustainability. The course challenges pupils to produce a number of design and make outcomes, either freely designed or in response to an externally set problem or theme. We encourage students to take on ‘real world’ problems with real clients and user groups. The department has extensive links and contacts within the fields of Product Design, Engineering and Architecture and our network of contacts and supporters allows us to provide additional resources and opportunities to learn for A Level students.

Students continue to develop their knowledge of related materials and processes whilst gaining understanding of the processes and work of professional designers.

The A Level qualification can lead to further studies in design, engineering, architecture or many creative or technical fields or, in combination with other subjects, can keep open a wide range of options for further study and careers. The experiences gained and the proven ability in both project based problem solving and theoretical studies is often beneficial and gives a degree of variety to job and UCAS applications.