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Marshfields School

A Positive Choice

Product Design

In Key Stage 3 we have adapted our projects to reflect the changing nature of young people’s experience.

We focus on the usability and application of the learned skills from Day 1 when year 7 join us in September. All skills, projects and outcomes are tailored to fit the needs and abilities of the learners while focusing on where those skills can be used in their own lives.

The assessment of this has also evolved continuously not least with our recent movement to Life Without Levels.  The progress and vocabulary of this work is shared with the students in each lesson and progressively as the products develop.

Workshop skills have the varied bonuses of being applicable to generating income for an individual as well as helping spatial awareness, dexterity, the impact of human activity on the planet and working with others.

Some of our projects are trusted favourites which we have adapted to suit each new cohort arriving at the school as well as brand new ones reflecting the world that our learners interact with every day.

This learning is reinforced by that in Computing and Food while at the same time making clear the links between the three areas and all cross-curricular links where they appear.

The department has targeted project links with other subject areas and outside groups as well as built in ongoing support for learning in Core subjects on a lesson by lesson basis.

In all areas students learn from artefacts and materials referencing the wider world of design, its history and major figures and movements.

Key Stage 3 projects include

Habitat model for a real or fantasy creature

Multiple skills and materials are involved including CAD/CAM.  There is an emphasis on a narrative outcome which can reflect a personal interest, humour and influences from literature, science and culture.

Timber trinket/ pencil box.  This project has been a favourite for several generations of Marshfields students and is a regular talking point for alumni and older students who still have, use and treasure theirs.  It is a link which enables some older students to come into the yr7 lessons and provide support.  This year it has developed to include a second box with, with an expanded range of materials and skills as well as a lift off ‘story lid’ designed for a different use or user.

Laminated acrylic themed keyring/jewellery/light pull.  Students experience, mould making, heat and pressure moulding, batch manufacturing, plastic memory, CAD/CAM and chemical welding.

Metal fabrication and heat treatment – students design and make a sculptural form or balancing toy from braised mild steel.  They investigate different forms of the metal and the impact of bending, torsion, pressure and other decorative effects.  They become confident and adept at controlling, under supervision, gas air torch operating at local temperatures between 5-600deg.  The level of achievement and wonder visible on faces at the moment of joining is extremely rewarding for all.  The drama of quenching is also a favourite.

Scale model environments

We look at the needs and issues related to living in the modern world.  What is ‘normal’ when we talk about our homes and how we live?

This project uses scale mathematics 2 & 3D modeling on paper, screen and in the workshop to produce a believable environment for an individual or targeted group.  Research and real world evidence is gathered to inform the design process.

Upcycled personal adornment/art.  This is the first of our projects to focus on producing saleable artefacts.  This year we worked closely with BGL Insurance Group to provide a real marketplace for made outcomes.  Students looked at contemporary jewellery for a range of customers and the issues around manufacturing waste.

The jewellery was finished with bought in findings and sold in a range of locations including BGL HQ.  Students were allowed to keep 50% of gross profit.  Numeracy was a focus of this task to look at the difference between net and gross and its impact on their earnings.  Students reacted to user feedback at several points during the design and make process.

Extended progress takes the form of pewter casting using cuttlefish shell hand cut moulds and CAD/CAM laser cut moulds to compare bespoke and batch outcomes, costs and values.

Designer influenced everyday furniture using the minimum of new or stock material older students are engaged in extended research into major designers and design movements of the last 150 years.  They are challenged to design and make a functional piece of domestic furniture which shows clear influence from a learned style or combination of several.  Access to higher levels of progress is through intelligent use of well-made mechanically strong joints and designing for flatpack manufacture. 

All projects are taught with an emphasis on individual adaptation and use of skills, materials and tools in as independently contrived form as possible.  Criteria are reinforced throughout to show young learners that there are many routes to success.  All Key Stage 3 projects are devised to feed directly into KS4 experience.

P. Cavanagh