What do a yeti and a 21st-century classroom have in common? They are both helping transform the Design Technology landscape at Blackfriars.
The subject area is enjoying a resurgence at Blackfriars, as more and more students recognise its wide benefits and diverse post-school pathways.
Head of Creative Arts and Design Technology Andrew Castiglio says the rapid growth in Design Tech – which incorporates Graphic Communication, Architectural Studies, Material Solutions and Digital Technologies – has come as a pleasant surprise.
Mr Castiglio only arrived at Blackfriars in January this year, tasked with encouraging more boys to take up Design Tech subjects.
“That was my main goal to start off with, getting the boys involved again,” Mr Castiglio says.
“I think Creative Arts was always strong here at Blackfriars. But I think with Design Tech there was a hole. I wanted to get the boys back engaged and having fun and producing something they’re proud of.
In a nod to the subject area’s growth, Blackfriars’ Creative Arts & Design Technology Centre, now known as the Angelico Centre, is about to be overhauled to incorporate a 21st-century classroom.
“The 21st-century classroom is going to have all of your 3D printers, the vinyl printer, our CNC (computer numerical control) Milling Machine,” Mr Castiglio says.
“So, it’s all of your high-end, 21st-century technology that’s run off Fusion 360 and Illustrator. It’s not so much a STEM focus, it’s more focussing on what industry wants regarding 21st-century technology.”
The introduction next year of the Yeti – a large-scale CNC router – will further add to the school’s impressive suite of Design Tech tools.
“The Yeti is the big one,” Mr Castiglio says.
“It’s being used at industry level, so if they (boys) decide, ‘Oh, actually, we want to go into cabinet making or we want to go into more CNC routing’, they have those skill sets.”
Architecture has also experienced a surge in popularity. In 2023, Blackfriars will have a Year 12 Architecture class for the first time.
Mr Castiglio says there is a growing awareness among students of where Design Tech subjects can take them after school.
“They can go anywhere,” he says. “They can go into a trade. Obviously, being an ex-builder myself, I am teaching them things I learnt on site, the basic skills and how to use the machinery.
“Also, because we’re doing the 21st-century learning, they could go into more of your cabinet making.
“The other way they could go is … the design of house (frames). And, of course, you’ve got Architecture. (Teacher) Owen (Stanborough) is teaching industry standard.
“Then you jump into Creative Arts. That’s so strong here, it’s ridiculous.”
In 2023, Blackfriars will employ another Design Tech teacher to meet the growing demand.
“I can’t work out how it’s grown so quickly, that uplift in boys choosing tech, but I’m obviously very happy about it,” Mr Castiglio says. “They (the boys) have shown their true colours and said, ‘let’s get in there’.”
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