Innovation and Design

Departmental approach to the curriculum

‘The original idea makes design distinctive, the function makes it work and quality adds value.' Serge Zuev

Innovation and Design at Rickmansworth School aims to inspire and motivate students through a demanding, stimulating, and innovative curriculum. It is a department of enthusiastic teachers with expertise in each of its GCSE subject areas, supported by a full time technician. Lessons are taught in purpose built design rooms with suitable state-of-the-art and well-equipped, specialist classrooms and workshops.

Projects provide interest, and challenge and are relevant to modern life. Using creativity and imagination, students design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within various contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants and values.

Students acquire a broad range of subject knowledge and draw on disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering and computing. Students learn to take risks and become resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens. Through evaluation, they will analyse the work of past and present professionals to develop and broaden daily life and their understanding of the wider world. High-quality innovation design education makes an essential contribution to the resilience, creativity, culture, wealth, and well-being of the nation.

Key Stage 3 lessons build skills, prepare students for GCSE and equip them for later life through an appreciation of design. Students have the opportunity to complete practical tasks in each module and are encouraged to take these items home.



Year 7

Students at the Rickmansworth School develop the foundations of  Innovation and Design by exploring core skills required throughout Key Stages 3, 4, and 5 following our program of study ‘An Introduction to Innovation and Design’. Students are given the opportunity to work with various materials and apply this to a range of projects along with the foundations of drawing and design skills and an introduction to CAD. At the core of this, students are required to solve problems, consider environmental issues and develop the necessary skills to work safely in a practical subject. This builds on the basic principles that students may have developed in KS2. 

Topics taught

Project 1   – Students start with a skills-based project whereby they design and make an electronic Flashing Badge for a specific target user. In this project, students are introduced to the workshop and safe working practices using some of the machines and tools available to them. Maths plays an important role in this project as students are expected to mark out measurements and key markings using the correct tools and units to produce an accurate and quality outcome. Students are assessed on their accuracy, quality of outcome, and individual ability to work independently and safely.  

Project 2 – Following a booklet-based curriculum students continue to build the foundations of knowledge of materials and processes following on to the introduction of the Link Toy Project. The program of study also introduces them to basic drawing skills such as 1-point perspective and isometric drawing.  Some CAD drawing is introduced too.  Additionally, another skills-based continues with students working with linkages and mechanisms to create a bespoke biomimicry-inspired toy project.  Students use CAD and CAM technologies to manufacture a well-finished product to help them understand the working properties of materials. The first year of Innovation ad Design at the Rickmansworth School also sees the introduction and development of their understanding of environmental, social, and cultural issues in design.  A knowledge assessment finalises the program of study. 

Year 8

Students build on and strengthen prior learning and are encouraged to develop independence.  There is a continued focus on CAD, necessary at Key Stages 4. Alongside this, students are introduced to papers, boards, composites, and smart materials as well as fabrics and rapid prototyping techniques. Types of motion are explored through a skills-based project as well as Ergonomics in products. The scheme of learning provides opportunities for students to further enhance their confidence in drawing and designing techniques with encouragement to boost creativity through the manufacture of a high-quality outcome.   

Topics taught

Project – Building on the previous year, students develop their drawing and designing skills and implement this in the development of coordination in the Steady Hand Game and a Tea Light Candle project.  Reinforcing workshop safety considerations students set to work manufacturing their product with the use of jigs and templates.  Further development of designing is key with the introduction of exploded diagrams, 2-point perspective, and aspects of some importance in Key Stage 4 AQA Engineering specifications. The skills-based project also develops students’ knowledge of different types of materials, and ergonomic considerations and builds confidence and independence in practical scenarios, a requirement and focus in all areas of Innovation and Design throughout the key stages.

Year 9

Students at the Rickmansworth School embark on the final Key Stage 3 program of study before taking their Key Stage 4 options. Encompassing prior learning students build on this with an introduction to industry-standard 3D CAD –Fusion 360 and 2D Techsoft. A workshop design and make of a Propeller Powered car, allow them the freedom to work with CAD and CAM once more and support their mini-portfolio by showcasing their skills in CAD and hand drawings, sketches designs, and manufacture. A need to understand electronic systems at Key Stage 4 sees students carry out another mini-design and make a project which allows them to build an understanding of design briefs, specifications, and design developments through the iterative design of a Light project incorporating scientific principles and mechanisms when designing the stem design. Enveloping all of the projects is a focus on materials and processes and an understanding that products are developed and created for specific needs and users

Topics taught

  • CAD development program – Fusion 360
  • Why designers and engineers use CAD and CAM
  • Sketch development
  • Iterative design and prototype modelling
  • Dimensioned exploded views
  • Using CAD to develop working drawings
  • Transferring 2D designs to CAM – Use of laser cutter for product embellishment
  • How to write a manufacturing specification
  • Materials and manufacturing processes
  • Electrical systems, components, and schematic symbols and diagrams

Year 10 and 11

GCSE Students who opt for AQA GCSE Design and Technology follow a program of study throughout Year 10 which builds on prior learning and more, to prepare them for controlled assessment and the 2-hour exam at the end of Year 11. Helping to reinforce this is a range of small mini-projects that change regularly to keep our students enthused. These include projects that support the theory but also allow for an opportunity to get in the workshop and explore manufacturing techniques, tools, and processes alongside some design development to build an understanding of the iterative design process. As they come to the end of year 10 they start their major project which consists of a controlled, internally assessed portfolio that shows the development of a product fitting to a theme released by the exam board.  Students must show that they can explore and carry out suitable research, design their products, model them and justify changes and iterations before manufacturing them independently and safely.  They must show evidence of testing and an ability to critically evaluate their final prototype outcome.   

Subject Content 


Core technical principles

In order to make effective design choices students will need a breadth of core technical knowledge and understanding that consists of:

  • new and emerging technologies

  • energy generation and storage

  • developments in new materials

  • systems approach to designing

  • mechanical devices

  • materials and their working properties.

All of this section must be taught and all will be assessed.


Specialist technical principles

In addition to the core technical principles, all students should develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the following specialist technical principles:

  • selection of materials or components

  • forces and stresses

  • ecological and social footprint

  • sources and origins

  • using and working with materials

  • stock forms, types and sizes

  • scales of production

  • specialist techniques and processes

  • surface treatments and finishes.

Each specialist technical principle should be delivered through at least one material category or system. Not all of the principles outlined above relate to every material category or system, but all must be taught.

The categories through which the principles can be delivered are:

  • papers and boards

  • timber based materials

  • metal based materials

  • polymers


Designing and making principles

Students should know and understand that all design and technology activities take place within a wide range of contexts.

They should also understand how the prototypes they develop must satisfy wants or needs and be fit for their intended use. For example, the home, school, work or leisure.

They will need to demonstrate and apply knowledge and understanding of designing and making principles in relation to the following areas:

  • investigation, primary and secondary data

  • environmental, social and economic challenge

  • the work of others

  • design strategies

  • communication of design ideas

  • prototype development

  • selection of materials and components

  • tolerances

  • material management

  • specialist tools and equipment

  • specialist techniques and processes


How it's assessed

Written examination: 2 hours.

100 marks.

50% of GCSE.

Section A – Core technical principles (20 marks)

A mixture of multiple choice and short answer questions assessing a breadth of technical knowledge and understanding.

Section B – Specialist technical principles (30 marks)

Several short answer questions (2–5 marks) and one extended response to assess a more in depth knowledge of technical principles.

Section C – Designing and making principles (50 marks)

A mixture of short answer and extended response questions.


Non-exam assessment (NEA)

What's assessed

Practical application of:

  • Core technical principles

  • Specialist technical principles

  • Designing and making principles

How it's assessed

  • Non-exam assessment (NEA): 30–35 hours approx

  • 100 marks

  • 50% of GCSE


  • Substantial design and make task

  • Assessment criteria:

    • Identifying and investigating design possibilities

    • Producing a design brief and specification

    • Generating design ideas

    • Developing design ideas

    • Realising design ideas

    • Analysing & evaluating

  • In the spirit of the iterative design process, the above should be awarded holistically where they take place and not in a linear manner

  • Contextual challenges to be released annually by AQA on 1 June in the year prior to the submission of the NEA

  • Students will produce a prototype and a portfolio of evidence

  • Work will be marked by teachers and moderated by AQA


Long Term Curriculum Overviews

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

'The Big Picture' Curriculum Map

This document will provide a visual overview of the department's curriculum from Key Stages 3 to 4. This is in a student-friendly format to support them in their understanding the of the department's curriculum. 

Big Picture Curriculum Map - Innovation and Design


Department Assessment Matrix

This document will provide an overview for assessment for Key Stages 3 and 4.

Assessment Matrix - Innovation & Design

Key Stage 3 Judgement Descriptors

These documents give you an overview of the criteria for Emerging, Developing, Secure and Mastery judgements at KS3 for this subject.

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - Innovation & Design - Year 7

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - Innovation & Design - Year 8

KS3 Judgement Descriptors - Innovation & Design - Year 9

Home Learning

Home learning at Key Stage 3 contributes and feeds into the scheme for learning. Feedback on home learning is given digitally as all students will be working on a digital workbook for their rotation in Innovation and Design.

Home learning is set once every half term at KS3. The frequency of home learning will increase at Key Stage 4 and 5 and represent work for students’ examined assessments.

How can you help your child succeed in Innovation and Design?

Students might like to visit some of these places to further their understanding. Most of these are free to attend.

The Heritage

Land Rover

Helpful websites and further information

Useful websites

KS4 Specification


Design and Technology



Education Quizzes