Strategies for specific change in the year 9 and 10 programme
Year 9 students had been timetabled for a full year of learning, four hours per week, with free choice of the domain area for each term. Timetabling was random, depending on their other option choices. Each class would be made up of students who may be taking their first, second, third, or fourth technology module. All teachers taught and assessed brief development and outcome development and evaluation each term. There was little tracking of students and therefore minimal progression – planning for progression was very difficult.
Other specific problems identified included:
- incoming year 9 students had little prior knowledge of technology
- basic terminology was not covered properly, and could still be a problem at year 11
- the level of student specialist knowledge and skill was declining
- there were marked inconsistencies between the achievements of students taught by different teachers.
In response the team came up with the following specific strategies for change:
- identify year 9 and 10 key competencies
- develop a technology cycle which guides progression from term to term
- identify year 9 and 10 domain knowledge and skills
- negotiate with management that the year 9 classes come through as core classes so that next steps in learning could be planned
- collect baseline data at the beginning and end of the year.
Planning the year 9 programme
It was decided to structure the year 9 timetable so that students came through the year as a core group. Each core group engaged in four different domain areas, one per term. All teachers taught a predetermined component of technological practice for that term – brief development, planning for practice, and outcome development and evaluation – within a given context, along with key domain knowledge and skills for that area. The four domain areas were food, materials, digital technologies and design and visual communication.
The year 9 technology cycle
The team came up with a non-linear technological practice cycle. They introduced in its pure form in term 1. They used it with the specific components of practice – brief development, planning for practice, and outcome development and evaluation – taught in each of the remaining terms. This generic framework maintained a consistent focus for teachers and students, no matter what domain or cycle stage they are involved in. It was also very clear to all that the focus of each component of practice naturally occurred within the cycle at a number of key stages of the full technological practice process. This provided a pan-cycle consciousness throughout the entire learning process.
Individual teachers within the project then developed programmes of learning, student resources, and achievement criteria for their specialist area. All teachers were consulted during this development stage. Programme of learning outlines were developed to encompass what can be managed with a full class of mixed ability students in one term. They were flexible enough that the teacher was able to simplify a programme of learning or extend students through it.
Once developed, this planning was checked against the key technology competencies and the strategic plan through a competency audit sheet to identify any gaps and ensure that teaching was centred on the predetermined component of practice.
"The technology cycle gives the students a solid framework to start from. They recognise the new step they are focusing on and can see how it builds on their previous term's work. It's not just one unrelated project after another."
"When we were writing the new programmes of learning we didn't have to reinvent the wheel. It was usually a case of taking an existing one and adapting the structure to fit in with the technology cycle."
"As a department the team ethos has been there from the start and we've definitely all had input into it. It's had to be able to work for everyone – so everyone has taken ownership of it."Jeff Arnold
Introductory teacher guide
A comprehensive new approach to teaching at year 9 across a large number of classes in five different domains using a range of teachers required the development of an introductory teacher guide. This was a crucial document to the successful implementation for the new initiative. It outlined the philosophies and expectations of the initiative and provided basic steps, lesson sequences, and generic approaches to the delivery of the material. Through this document a common understanding was developed among teachers and students alike.