Westholme School, North West
My name is Jonathan Walker, I am a Design and Technology teacher that is based in the North West of England. I currently work at Westholme School, teaching students from KS2-KS5 (Aged 10–18). Prior to becoming a teacher, I had previously worked within construction and played professional sport.
I believe that Design and Technology is the subject that can help unite and enhance all other subjects, if planned correctly. Students are presented with real life problems that need solutions, this encourages the students to question life on a deeper level and formulate solutions with justified reasons.
Living in an ever-changing world, it is paramount that students are provided with the best possible learning experiences to prepare them for future careers. Technologies are rapidly improving and educators need to ensure that they can provide the skills of the future.
I encourage my students to recognise the personal and societal benefits of technology too, as this provides them with a deeper appreciation of all technologies, which can promote empathy. In addition to this, I love to discuss the environmental impacts of our individual choices and how we can design and source sustainably for the future.
As a Design and Technology Teacher, I have been able to introduce and embed 3D printing into my last two schools. My passion for real-life application and advancement of Design and Technology led me to enter and win a national competition through Create Education, thereby gaining a 3D printer for my school. My entry was based around the development of a scheme of Design and Technology GCSE work which focused on 3D printing prosthetic limbs and the social benefits of technology. Since then, I have developed links with a prosthetic consultant who is keen to be involved with inspiring the next generation in schools.
After winning the competition I have ensured that I have kept positive links with Create Education. This academic year my school was invited to support the company at the TCT Show in Birmingham, which the students loved!
During Covid 19 ‘lock down’, I have worked alongside a 3D designing company called PrintLab, who have now invited me to become a pioneer for the company. This professional relationship has allowed me to further enhance the learning resources for the students I teach and liaise with other professionals nationally and internationally.
Alongside the 3D designing/printing advances; I organised an initiative to help support the NHS with Personal Protective Equipment. I was able to bring two state schools and one independent school from different regions together to share resources and manufacture PPE to reach a wider area.
With the first submission of the new GCSE in Design and Technology Non-Examination Assessments (NEA), one of my highest achieving students' work was requested to be used as an exemplar NEA by the examination board, because of the wider aspect they had considered.
The student had explored the ‘Supporting Developing Countries’ contextual challenge. After establishing the differences between a developed and developing country, they were able to analyse what the different needs were and how this could be influenced by location and amenities.
After being torn between female education; sustainability and health, they explored approaches that could combine the different elements together. They discovered that electricity can be drawn from certain types of fruit and vegetables. This then spurred them on to look into waste produce in the world.
They explored and discovered that 20% of all potatoes in a specific developing country go to waste, which was a shocking discovery. Alarmed by this the student then explored ways to create a product that used the 20% surplus potatoes. After trialling and testing different principles, they then created; a nightlight to promote reading for females in developing countries fuelled by potatoes, which improved mental health and stimulation.