V&A Design Technology Symposium

In September 2017, secondary schools across the UK start teaching a new GCSE in Design & Technology. As part of its ongoing work in education, The V&A Museum organised a special one day symposium DT Teachers to support them in the teaching of the new GCSE.

We were thrilled to hear that the new system actively encourages students to take risks:
Top marks are only available to students who stretch and improve their skills, abilities and knowledge of materials, processes, technology and making.

Teachers at one of the two workshops led by Beep Studio

Teachers at one of the two workshops led by Beep Studio



Beep Studio was invited along to run two creative sessions on Briefing and Ideation.
Attendees shared their thoughts about the new GCSE, how it relates to the way they teach now, and how they explain the design process to students unused to such open ended exercises.

Working in groups, the teachers produced evolving maps of the briefing process by loosely recording their conversations, jotting points on post-it notes, arranging the information, and finding patterns. These finally came together as powerful, insightful, and revealing diagrams.

The conversations that developed were rich and deep, and the teachers enjoyed the role reversal of becoming students and tackling a design task with an undetermined outcome.

Visual Minutes

Attendees heard talks from educationalists, exam boards, designers, and new V&A Director Tristram Hunt. At this point our work was done, so we sat back, opened our sketchbooks, and drew a set of visual minutes. Here are our highlights.

Talks began with an introduction from schools programme manager Cara Williams and Director Tristram Hunt, who gave an overview of the museum's history, from its beginnings in the Great Exhibition of 1851, through to the newly opened Exhibition Road entrance.

Talks began with an introduction from schools programme manager Cara Williams and Director Tristram Hunt, who gave an overview of the museum's history, from its beginnings in the Great Exhibition of 1851, through to the newly opened Exhibition Road entrance.

Sarah Campbell, Head of Education at the V&A, interviewing Louise Attwood, who wrote the new GCSE syllabus for education charity AQA.

Sarah Campbell, Head of Education at the V&A, interviewing Louise Attwood, who wrote the new GCSE syllabus for education charity AQA.

Andy Mitchell of the Design & Technology Association spoke about encouraging high ambitions, hard work, and learning through failure as part of the new syllabus.

Andy Mitchell of the Design & Technology Association spoke about encouraging high ambitions, hard work, and learning through failure as part of the new syllabus.

One teacher spoke of the struggle they have keeping up with ever-changing software. However, this may be a misplaced worry, since the role of the teacher is changing, moving from that of a 'keeper of the knowledge' who has all the answers, to that of a 'facilitator', encouraging students to research and pick up skills through online resources.

One teacher spoke of the struggle they have keeping up with ever-changing software.
However, this may be a misplaced worry, since the role of the teacher is changing, moving from that of a 'keeper of the knowledge' who has all the answers, to that of a 'facilitator', encouraging students to research and pick up skills through online resources.

V&A Curator Johanna Agerman-Ross spoke about designs including the Eames work with plywood and a chair modelled on a paper cup. The Eames leg splint reminded me again of my grandfather, who as a design exercise had to carve leg splints from pine, holding them up to the light to check their wafer-thinness was consistent.

V&A Curator Johanna Agerman-Ross spoke about designs including the Eames work with plywood and a chair modelled on a paper cup. The Eames leg splint reminded me again of my grandfather, who as a design exercise had to carve leg splints from pine, holding them up to the light to check their wafer-thinness was consistent.

V&A Engineering Resident Julian Melchiorri speaking on his work to create a synthetic leaf from materials including silk, spinach, and etched metal.

V&A Engineering Resident Julian Melchiorri speaking on his work to create a synthetic leaf from materials including silk, spinach, and etched metal.