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‘Inspiring Learning’

‘Inspiring Learning’

Inspiring Learning Event logo

‘Inspiring Learning’

June 17th 2016 at University of East London

The joint Food and Textiles event at UEL was a huge success with over 150 delegates attending to hear OFSTED, Department for Education and the exam boards talk about the latest changes to qualifications.
In 2016 new GCSE changes affect food and textiles more than any other GCSE. Most GCSEs in your school have undergone change, but these have not involved creation of a new exam (Food Preparation and Nutrition), nor a change on the way that textiles taught and assessed under a new D&T route.


Ofsted Lead for D&T Diana Choulerton

Diana Choulerton (HMI National Lead for D&T) from OFSTED presented at the event about the latest national curriculum and OFSTED requirements.

Securing great design and technology for all: A food and textiles perspective

View video of her presentation:

Jennifer Allan and Alex Smith (Department for Education) (GCSE & A Level Reform Qualifications Division) spoke about the new qualification reforms and the new Food and D&T qualifications setting out the schedule of these changes, highlighting an end to modularity – exams now linear in structure, and changing the grading system – numbered scale from 9 to 1, 9 being the highest.

Key changes to the new D&T GCSE:

  • Single ‘Design & Technology’ title
  • Greater focus on iterative design process
  • Strengthened STEM content
  • Strengthened technical knowledge

AQA and OCR presented their realisations of these changes and NCFE and Pearsons delivering information of updated current qualifications for Textiles. The new D&T specifications will start to be taught in England in September 2017 with first assessment in 2019.

Julie Boyd, Nicky Simpson and Heidi Ambrose-Brown delivered practical textiles workshops on content, with Barbara Monks,  Bren Hellier(Practical Action), Suzanne Gray and Frances Meek(British Nutrition Foundation) all delivering Food practical sessions.

A surprise visit from the effervescent gastronaut Stefan Gates entertained delegates through lunch with his gastronomic scientific delights!


The tipping point for D&T in schools

The tipping point for D&T in schools

D&T Image

The fears that EBacc will squeeze Design and Technology out of the curriculum have never been so real!

Can you imagine a cohort of primary and secondary school students not doing art, music, drama, design and technology? This is the reality of what is happening within our schools today and we need to do something about it!

The All Party Design & Innovation Group (APDIG) panel discussion at Westminster yesterday was an eye-opener. Richard Green CE of Design & Technology Association, gave an impassioned opening statement clearly emphasising the urgency of action needed now to stop what could be a disaster for UK education. He was followed by Dr Elies Dekonink, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath Julia Bennett, Head of Policy, Crafts Council with equally questioning statements on what is happening.

The proceeding discussion was animated and heated at times with everyone in the room agreeing that with the main argument but no-one really putting forward any real solutions other than Universities needed to demand D&T as a subject A level as entry requirement for certain degrees such as Engineering and a stronger debate at Governmental level as to the priorities of the EBacc subjects.

The Government does in fact support D&T, recognising the importance to the British economy that design, innovation developing technologies contributes – we are known for it! Even the Chinese want what we have got and are soaking up our D&T teachers to teach in their universities! But in many British schools the subject is being marginalised with some schools dropping the subject altogether as it is expensive to resource and not part of EBacc subjects measured against Government accountability – English, Maths, Science, Language and humanities are what you want!

There is apparently a D&T teacher shortage with estimated 2000 teachers needed and yet there is an uneven level of incentives for PGCE students who, if they specialise in Science or Maths, can get £30k bursaries yet D&T students only get £12k.

And then there is job prospects – students aren’t choosing D&T specialism as concerned about whether ‘D&T is going to be in the curriculum in the future’. Sheffield Hallam University will apparently be the only University in England and Wales offering D&T specialist course from September 2016 with 14 students qualifying in 2017 in England and Wales!

What next?

Should D&T become an EBacc subject? Should universities demand D&T A-level for courses that need design, innovation, enquiry and solution finding such as Engineering, Fashion, Textiles, Graphics, Product Design etc?

There needs to be improved communication between Governmental departments such as BIZ and DfE.

Collaborations and incentives through Industry to encourage students to take up D&T – Industry already is doing this and yet there is no joined up thinking/action with Government Groups and Departments to co-ordinate.

Any ideas and thoughts on this can be posted here or email APDIG here:

Naomi Turner – Senior Manager, Manufacturing, Design and Innovation
020 7202 8588

Save the world with a great fitting pattern!

Save the world with a great fitting pattern!


A recent trip to Greece to discover the methodology of Anastasia Vouyouka used to create perfect fit pattern construction raised the issue of unsustainable fast fashion we have become used to.

Fit is the most important factor when developing a garment but this has disappeared from our high street with the emergence of mass produced ready-to-wear fast fashion flooding stores and boutiques since the 1980’s.

Why are we no longer concerned that a garment does not fit correctly and happy to buy ill fitting and badly made clothing at low cost? This is of course a political question with economic reasoning, but maybe we should be looking at changing the trends to fit the times.

Growing awareness of the unsustainability of mass consumerism of disposable products is starting to emerge, with the trend for fast fashion beginning to fade. Through unviable environmental and economic practices we are seeing resurgence in the need for craftsmanship, British Made, eco and ethical manufacture.

In the world of fashion we discuss ‘Zero Waste’ as the industry continues to over produce cheaply made disposable products of which 60% ends up in landfill.

We mourn the loss of skilled labour as our workforces diminish to a situation where we no longer make things but merely consume.

Politically we cannot stop the cycle of importing and consuming as this is how our world now continues to evolve, but the slow fashion movement is starting to rise as young people search for products that last, are ethically produced and environmentally sound.

Coming through this is the need to return to better manufactured and better fitting garments that are less wasteful, carefully considered and ethically produced. There is a need for skilled workers to once again take pride in their work and be rewarded accordingly. We yearn for garments that will fit beautifully, feel comfortable and look wonderful. And this isn’t just for the elite few – this can be made possible for all if we stop making fast fashion fashionable and educate the young to understand that a garment can last a life time if made well with passion!

How green is your wardrobe?

How green is your wardrobe?

“Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers, Grow-Grow.” – The Talmud

Popular buzzwords such as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘zero waste’ and ‘green fashion’ are frequently heard terms often used without a true understanding of what they really mean.

Ideally, an Eco-friendly or ‘green’ product needs to have zero or negative carbon footprint; will be created without use of harmful chemicals; is fit for purpose and is compostable, re-usable or recyclable after use rather than discarded. In return we help to conserve resources such as energy and water and prevent land, water and air contamination.


A typical product life cycle is linear. At each stage, there are material, energy, and labor inputs and waste outputs that create environmental and social impacts. Designers today are tasked with developing products that have a ‘Closed Loop’ life cycle reducing the carbon footprint and environmental harm. We can also help by choosing and demanding ‘eco’ products.

We can engage in eco-friendly practices or habits by being conscious of how we utilize resources. The clothing we buy, the fabrics from which these are made and the chemicals used to dye them, may cause irreparable damage to the environment. Here are some eco-friendly fabrics that will help turn your wardrobe green:

Organic Cotton fabric:
It is a known fact that more than 25% of the pesticides used on land worldwide are used for the production of cotton. However, Organic cotton is produced without any synthetic and/or toxic chemical sprays. If we buy organic cotton products especially those with international certification such as GOTS we help further reduce the chemical amount being dumped into the environment.

Bamboo fabric:
Bamboo is an extremely renewable product grown with almost zero percent chemical inputs. Bamboo fabric also has natural antibacterial qualities and is biodegradable. However, although it is easy and fast to grow, most bamboo is processed using toxic chemicals to extract the fibre from the plant. It is mandatory for brands to label their products as bamboo-based.

Polyester (recycled):
Recycled Polyester is a synthetic, man-made fibre produced from discarded plastic bottles with the resulting carbon footprint 75% less than the original polyester. Little water is used in the processing of this fabric. Recycled polyester however does have poisonous antimony, though most manufacturers are working towards removing it from finished fabrics.

Hemp is a star in ‘eco’ fabrics – it requires minimum to zero pesticides, can be transformed rapidly, can grow without fertilizer, is easy to harvest and most importantly doesn’t reduce soil nutrients. It is being widely used a variety of products from bags to clothing.

Tencel is a viscose fabric extracted from natural cellulose wooden tissue and is completely biodegradable. Its manufacturing process utilizes wood pulp certified from ‘Forest-Stewardship-Council’ and low-toxic chemical inputs. A fabulously soft, durable and versatile fabric found in anything from bed linen to sportswear also uses little water in processing.

Soy Silk/Cashmere:
Produced from soy-protein fiber left over after soybeans are processed into food. However, this soy might be ‘Genetically Engineered’ unless mentioned on its label.

An obviously renewable fabric requiring little chemical inputs until it is processed. Organic wool is the ideal choice with the added care of animals and sustainable agriculture practices.



In general, all these ‘eco-friendly’ fabric types stand for optimistic change, though many feel that it’s still not clear cut and possess numerous drawbacks as almost all clothing production is associated with environmental concerns including:

  • Energy:
    Energy is required to process, produce and ship fabric as well as its final finished product. Reducing the carbon footprint is a priority and solutions include local manufacturing.
  • Chemicals:
    Toxic chemicals such as dyes, pesticides, bleaches and many more are used for the chemical processing of fibers such as rayon (viscose) or bamboo as well as in the processing of non-organic natural and synthetic fabrics.
  • Natural resources:
    Natural fibers require large areas for fabrication purpose and synthetic fibers need petrochemicals.
  • Water resources:
    Almost all fabrics need some amount of water during the production phase with cotton requiring the most. New dyeing and finishing technologies are developing using methods with little or no water.


For more information and classroom resources go to: http://practicalaction.org/the-sustainability-handbook



CADCAM through stitch

CADCAM through stitch

CADCAM through stitch

heidiEvent Leader:
Heidi Ambrose-Brown

16th April 2016

The Parlour Studio, Warwick

£165 +VAT

An exciting opportunity for any textiles lovers to work closely with textiles practitioner Heidi Ambrose-Brown in her own studio. This is the first of a series of workshops practicing and learning new skills and expanding knowledge of a variety of textiles practices at Parlour Studio.

The day is aimed at teachers at all level of textiles skills and knowledge including technicians, who want to expand their existing skills and practice and gain new and creative ideas for lessons and schemes of work and improve exam performance.

What will be covered

  • The importance of preparation – using stabilisers and which type.
  • Understanding thread selection and working with different fabrics.
  • Editing on the embroidery machine screen.
  • How to create 3-dimensional work.
  • Understand some software basics.
  • Extensive exemplar work for inspiration.
  • Information to support the correct use of threads and materials to increase the life of your machine.

Benefits of the Training

  • Life long learning in continuing professional development.
  • Understand the key learning and differentiation that can be delivered through CAD/CAM machine
  • embroidery.
  • Fresh ideas for use in the classroom with multiple users.
  • Advice for specific problems you are experiencing.
  • Produce samples, take video clips and photos to support learning and take back into school.
  • Networking with other teaching colleagues.
  • An awareness of available resources to support/expand your existing practice.
  • Make secure decisions and save time with gained knowledge and experience.

Heidi Ambrose-Brown (D&T textiles Consultant)

Heidi worked in the fashion and textiles industry and has experience in fashion retail, buying, design and industrial embroidery, before doing a PGCE specialising in resistant materials. She is now a textile practitioner and consultant within Design and Technology. Her primary aim is to raise the profile of textiles within schools, working with teachers and students to deliver projects that combine new technologies with textile techniques and processes, in order to produce products that students find relevant and achievable.

Heidi has taught in schools across all the D&T specialisms at KS3 and delivered textiles at GCSE and A Level, helping students to achieve outstanding results. Heidi also acted as an examiner for AQA GCSE. She has delivered vocational courses at City & Guilds and BTEC Art and Design: Textiles at KS4.

She has worked closely with educational suppliers to develop resources for schools and advise on the use of CAD/CAM equipment in the classroom, consequently built a national reputation for delivering relevant and inspirational courses for teachers.

Book online

Registration for this event is managed via Eventbrite. To register, please visit our Eventbrite page by clicking on the button below.


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