FAQs

1. Is Smart Product Design and Manufacture eligible for school performance or “league table” points?

Yes. Smart Product Design and Manufacture (SPDM) Level 1 and Level 2 courses are approved by the Department for Education for school performance points. Each year in the Autumn term the DfE publishes a list of qualifications eligible for performance points for teaching the following September. SPDM is approved for 2017, 2018, and we expect approval for 2019. Sign up to receive a notification when DfE publishes its approved qualifications list for 2019.

2. Does SPDM count in “bucket 3” for progress 8?

The Progress 8 document states “The remaining element contains the three highest point scores in any three other subjects, including English language or literature (if not counted in the English slot), further GCSE qualifications (including EBacc subjects) or any other non-GCSE qualifications on the DfE approved list.” SPDM is a Technical Award qualification on the DfE approved list, qualification number 601/4558/4, therefore can be offered in “bucket 3”.

3. What other qualifications can I offer alongside SPDM?

SPDM comes under the Manufacturing subject umbrella or “discount code”. A school or college can offer a course from any other discount code area alongside SPDM to claim points for two separate codes. For examples a range of Level 2 ICT, Engineering or Construction qualifications would all be useful and complimentary courses to teach alongside SPDM.

4. What’s the qualification number for SPDM?

SPDM Level 1 qualification number is: 601/4557/2

SPDM Level 2 qualification number is: 601/4558/4

5. Where can I download assessment criteria, sample portfolios and past papers?

You can request course documents here. Please enter your school details and you will be directed to download the course handbook, sample portfolios, current schemes of works, and past papers. 

6. What units are covered in SPDM?

There are 3 units under SPDM:

  • Unit 1: Product Design Unit 1 teaches design and modelling techniques plus 2D and 3D CAD. Learners apply these skills semi-independently in their own project, which is to design and develop a Smart product prototype.
  • Unit 2: Product Manufacture Product Manufacture teaches the use of 3D printing and other Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) tools  to produce prototypes rapidly. The unit also shows learners how to embed physical components into a design so that they can prototype an integrated Smart product.
  • Unit 3: Smart Electronics Unit 3 covers microcontrollers, digital and analogue inputs, outputs, and sensors. Students learn how to design and program a simple Smart system with an input and an output which they can integrate within a Smart product.

Plus an:

  • Exam: Potential further 70 Marks Students take an exam leading to A*-C GSCE equivalent grades. Alternatively students not evidencing the ability to pass at this level are able to sit the level 1 paper and still obtain an accredited qualification.

All coursework criteria must be met before students can be entered for exams.

7. Is there a deadline for submitting coursework?

There is no deadline for coursework submission. BCA via TLM operate an On-Demand model of moderation which means you can request moderation whenever you like during the academic year. You can submit each unit as and when they are completed or submit all 3 units at the same time.

We also offer informal coursework feedback to help schools stay on track and monitor coursework progress. This is especially important when schools start the course for the first time and we recommend an informal review at least once a term. This is at no extra charge to the school or college.

8. When is the exam date or window?

The school or college can select an exam date. Exams will be available as soon as student coursework has been submitted and passed. Schools can request an exam at a date convenient to the school. Exams are usually available any day 2 weeks from your request point, in many cases they will be available even sooner.

9. Your exams are online. Can we request paper exams?

Yes. All online exams are £9 per learner. Paper exams are an additional £5 per learner. Please send a request for paper exams via the online exam page. 

10. Do I need a 3D printer to teach SPDM?.

Not necessarily. Smart Product Design and Manufacture aims to introduce students to modern product development. A key part of this is using modern technologies like 3D printing to quickly and cost effectively prototype products. We recommend that schools should make at least one form of CNC technology available to learners during the course however this does not have to be a 3D printer. A laser cutter, CNC router or other CAM tool are all suitable for the course. 

11. SPDM includes electronics and microcontroller. I don’t have a background in electronics, can I still teach it?

Yes. BCA can provide a comprehensive set of teaching resources to help non-specialist teachers deliver the course content. As long as you have a willingness to engage with emerging technologies, there should be no barrier to you teaching the electronics elements of the course.

BCA offer a highly effective half day training session for teachers. This is targeted at teachers with prior background in design and technology who would like “top-up” training in a new piece of specialist software or hardware, such as microcontrollers.

As well as teacher training in specific course technology, BCA now offer a teacher mentoring package. This is dedicated to an individual teacher, and aimed to develop and refine his or her own teaching techniques to get the most out of the course, and ultimately the best results for your students.

12. Do I have to purchase course equipment via BCA?

You are welcome to source equipment for the course independently. We would be happy to recommend electronics or CAD/CAM suppliers near you.

For schools looking for a turnkey solution, BCA offer custom microcontroller kits and 3D printers matched to the course criteria.  Please email us for further details. 

13. We have SEN learners. Is SPDM suitable?

For learners able to meet SPDM Level 2 course criteria independently, but struggle to record their evidence in traditional written form, schools can use different media(s) to capture a learner’s understanding of the course. As well as powerpoints, we accept video diaries, recorded voice interviews or other pre-agreed documents as evidence.

For learners who would benefit from more guidance and step by step support in project work, SPDM level 1 may be a suitable starting place.

14. Do you have schools running SPDM I can visit or talk to?

Yes. We would be happy to arrange a call or visit to one of BCA’s schools running SPDM. Please email us with your school location and we will put you in touch with a school or college near you. 

Request SPDM Level 2 VLE Login, Assessor Criteria and Sample Portfolios

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