Sir Graham Balfour School

A member of the Sir Graham Balfour Multi-Academy Trust

Design & Technology

GCSE Design and Technology (Resistant Materials)

Subject overview 

The course builds and encourages students to be independent thinkers and learners, problem solvers, skilled and talented young people with a passion for the subject. It is a gateway to further courses and careers in engineering, skilled artisan trades, architectural and computer aided design amongst many others.

Design and Technology is studied throughout KS3 and as an open option subject at KS4. The students benefit from learning about key core aspects in this fast developing technological world, they will have the opportunity to work creatively and develop their ideas and realise their designs.

The curriculum covers a broad range of skills and objectives and is principally organised in 3 areas of study.

  1. Core Technology – This will cover general technology that is relevant across everyday life, such as how we generate electricity, what new materials are being developed and investigating why and how. The students will also discover how things work both in theoretical application and through the investigation of mechanical movement and electronics. Emphasis is placed on modern day living and how developments throughout the years has encouraged more use of social media but also realising how social media is used to benefit Business and Enterprise.
  2. Specialists materials- It is important that the students have a varied curriculum and wide knowledge base of all things technological, the specialist materials covered in this particular qualification are paper and board, wood, metal, plastics and electronics. In KS4 the students will develop their knowledge in one specialist material area, this allows deeper investigation into material properties such how they react under forces and stresses, where the materials are sourced and how they become useable stock forms on the shelves in our stores.
  3. Designing and making -  From year 7 to 11 students are encouraged to be creative and develop their ideas using the knowledge they have obtained. They are progressively challenged throughout the 5 year curriculum to design and realise their own work using their new found skills, tools, materials and knowledge.

GCSE - AQA GCSE Design and Technology (1-9)

The build up for this GCSE begins in Year 7 so by the time students reach year 10 they have a solid foundation on which to further enhance their knowledge and skills. Year 10 is structured to complete varied units of work in specialist areas and core skills, this is then supported through practical application as well as learning and using new tools and machinery. At the end of year 10 and in preparation for year 11 the exam board release the contextual challenges for the GCSE. The students choose a challenge and then design and make their own product to fulfil it on which they are assessed. The students are given 30 hours to complete the challenge, this includes the written work and designs that support the product itself; this represents 50% of the qualification and the remaining 50% is tested through a 2 hour examination.

Year 9 units

Revision of previous years topics are interleaved and extensions of 3D Drawing and printing demonstrations are included, 3D drawing packages such as Prodesktop and Happy3D are learned. Mechanics extending to levers and CAM mechanisms are built in alongside energy generation and storage systems, ensuring the students have a secure technical understanding. Elements of industry and enterprise, people and culture and production techniques and systems are taught progressing into the KS4 units of work. The students gain secure understanding and a firm foundation which precede the GCSE material outlined above. Practical application in year 9 is student lead encouraging students to be more independent, designing and creating their own models using movement and energy methods and materials, tools and resources that they have studied.

Year 8 units

Revision of year 7 units of study and extension of drawing skills are undertaken. Further developments in materials and their properties developing an understanding and an in depth knowledge of how material choices affect the environment and the world we live in. Mechanisms and types of movement are introduced alongside the study of balance, forces and stresses. These units of work then culminate in the final practical project which models and demonstrates mechanisms, movement, balance and material selection.  

Year 7 units

Students develop good drawing skills and can use a variety of mediums, by doing this they are able to represent their design ideas better and include some creativity where perhaps they would otherwise struggle. Computer aided design and Computer aided manufacture (CAD/CAM) are key requirements to modern design and manufacture and time is invested in year 7 to formulate solid techniques, processes and practices in this area. The students will study basic material properties in wood, metal and plastic as well as learning hand tools, including some machinery and their uses. 5 weeks of the 10-week module are dedicated to practical application and consolidation of learning so far, through a teacher lead project.

Design Technology (Textiles Specialism)

Subject overview

The GCSE qualification is designed for students who want to study fashion and textiles in a hands on, practical way. It is a creative, vibrant and popular course that feeds perfectly into further study. Textiles students are encouraged to develop their skills using a wide range of techniques and processes. They will also gain an awareness of the wider influences of Design and Technology including historical, cultural and environmental factors. Students will get the opportunity to work creatively when designing and making and apply technical and practical expertise.


Exam Board – AQA

Students will study three main areas: core technical principles, specialist technical principles and designing and making principles.

Students will study core technical principles in a broad range of materials. They will then have the opportunity to study textiles as a specialist technical principle in greater depth using designing and making principles.

Year 10: Students will develop practical skills and cover a wide range of theory and exam style questions. There will be a series of minor projects, which use a range and combination of materials. 

Year 11: GCSE coursework through controlled assessment will begin. Consisting of a 20 page folder and a practical project in textiles. This will take approximately a year to complete. This accounts for 50% of the final GCSE.

There will be a 2 hour written examination at the end of the course which is worth 50% of the total GCSE marks.

Year 9

In year 9, students will develop their confidence to work creatively and experiment using a range of historical and modern decorative techniques. They will investigate new developments in technology and their impact on society.

Year 8

In year 8, students will develop their skills on the sewing machine and learn how to shape and form a successful product. Students will also investigate the wider impacts of design on society and the environment. 

Year 7

In year 7, students will be introduced to designing and making principles through a hands on, creative project. Students will develop skills such as hand embroidery, using a sewing machine accurately and safely and pattern cutting. They will also be introduced to fabric sources and properties.



Sir Graham Balfour School
North Avenue
ST16 1NR

For Sat Nav directions:

ST16 1NJ


01785 223490