In the first of our NEW ‘In Conversation with…’ articles, we hear from Leanne Mee, our Curriculum CPD Design and Technology lead. Here she shares her thoughts, observations and tips on her passion, D&T.
What drives you to keep going and advocate Design and Technology education?
For me, it’s all about making sure that children have those core skills that they’ll need to succeed in life. Skills such as creativity and problem-solving which are so vital. It’s about raising children’s aspirations.
What are some of the key issues you think we are currently facing in D&T education?
It’s always time and budget. Then the lack of either knowledge or confidence in class teachers when teaching D&T with their children. There’s a huge recruitment crisis in engineering and manufacturing and the place to start addressing this is in Primary schools. It needs to start here.
In your experience, what are the challenges faced by teachers with Design & Technology?
This goes back to teacher confidence I think – having the necessary knowledge and understanding. My experience suggests that the Design and Technology leaders have the buy in, but are all class teachers? It’s also interesting how very little time is spent on Design and Technology as part of Initial Teacher Training – it just doesn’t feel like the subject is as high profile as English or Maths and yet D&T provides such a great context for both English and Maths learning.
What would be your three Top Tips to overcome these challenges?
- Develop units around the notion of ‘Something for somebody for some purpose’.
- Network with other D&T leads and enthusiasts: events like today with Gateway provide such a wonderful opportunity for this. I’ve lots to offer at The STEM Workshop for both Primary and Secondary Schools.
- Beg, steal and borrow!! (well, not the steal!) But do ask local companies, universities, local secondary schools to support with resources or expertise. There is so much out there!
If you could encourage all Primary school teachers to consistently do ONE thing in D&T, what would it be?
Make it real and relevant. Give children a problem to solve and watch them innovate. Just like today with the D&T leaders ‘Build a mechanical system to move a ball’ A great opportunity to explore how products are manufactured. And the key is to ensure you assess all the risks and put measures in place through your risk assessments to mitigate against these.
Leanne leads the Gateway Alliance Curriculum CPD – Design and Technology events with the most recent receiving fantastic feedback:
‘Really informative and useful to have practicals to embed skills and what we are asking of the children and staff delivering D&T in school.’
‘Opportunity to make, think, collaborative working and to ask questions.’
‘Practical engaging session showing DT skills in action. Really good to focus on structures and mechanisms.’
‘Really interactive and gave lots of ideas to use in school. Assessment info was also helpful.’
Leanne Mee founded The STEM Workshop in 2018 as a direct result of the decline of Design and Technology within schools. She is an experienced leader and teacher having previously led various subjects to include Design and Technology, Science and Maths. Leanne secured a National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership for bringing about sustainable changes across STEM within her previous role. In the work Leanne has done in supporting the work across several organisations and schools she was awarded an Excellence Award in 2021 from the Design and Technology Association for the Development of STEM Learning Opportunities Award.
You can find Leanne on X (Twitter) @theSTEMworkshop
Click here to find out more about our other Curriculum CPD events this year at Gateway Alliance.