I can remember one student coming to our department once saying they had double Maths, Physics and Further Maths and that they just wanted to come here and make something. My aim as Head of Design Technology is to make this a space where students can make whatever’s in their head.
At BGS, the kids make their own products. We’re currently working on a stove for developing countries for example as an A Level project. We found that many of these stoves were giving off carbon monoxide and that more people were dying of carbon monoxide than they did from malaria. We’re developing one which has a catalytic convertor which converts the carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. That’s typical of the kind of project we might do.
Whatever we do, our aim is to make it to shop quality. We use really nice materials, like American Black walnut, and our materials are kept in temperature-controlled environments. We’re essentially doing industrial level manufacturing in a school. In the past, schools would have said ‘make a light’. Now it’s about looking for a market opportunity. It’s looking for those insights. It’s interviewing the client and find out what the market wants. That’s the difference between old and new. We’re also working with smart materials, we use things like UV beading and neoprene. It’s a big step away from old school woodwork (although we do use wood).
We’re in a unique position because we’re the glue between maths and science. We work as closely as we can with different departments. It’s a real collaboration. By drawing on all these different areas of the school we’ve been able to get our kids up to the highest standards because our manufacturing base is so good. We come under the same regulations as a factory and we have industry standard machinery, such as two laser cutters, and two CAD suites
We find we send the kids off to do design, architecture and engineering once they leave here – we’re pretty good at facilitating all of that and allowing our students to start specialising a little bit earlier. If they want to do architecture we can give them an architect’s brief at A Level so when they go to an interview they’re part way down the road. Our former students are doing all kinds of different jobs, from building bridges to developing engines for Rolls Royce.
Our students have good, really interesting careers ahead of them where they can make a real difference. They can end up travelling and working abroad on fantastic projects and with innovative companies. Design technology gives them a flavour of that. The subject has got wider and we’re finding that the skill sets they learn here are really transferable. Basically, we’re a world away from making a spice rack for your mum.
“They can end up travelling and working abroad on fantastic projects and with innovative companies. Design technology gives them a flavour of that. The subject has got wider and we’re finding that the skill sets they learn here are really transferable.
Basically, we’re a world away from making a spice rack for your mum.”