The front and inspiration of our lockdown STEM Challenges, the inspiration behind our children’s DT projects, and the creator and judge of this week’s House Challenge, Mrs Briggs kindly takes the stage in our next Meet the Team series.

How long have you been at Lambrook and what do you do?

This is my third year at Lambrook, and I am Head of Design and Technology, so I teach all year groups from Year 3 to Year 8. I am also a Year 5 Form Tutor and I do teach some Games as well.

Have you always been a teacher? and did you always know that you wanted to be a teacher?

Yes, I was always going to be a teacher! Originally, I planned to be a PE teacher and then I had a change of heart and trained as a Design and Technology teacher instead.

What did you do before coming to Lambrook?

I was at another school in Basingstoke, which had a Prep School and a Senior School, so I taught from Year 3 up to A Level.

How did you find the adjustment coming to a Prep School without senior school aged pupils?

It was quite an adjustment as previously, there was quite a big range in my teaching and this was rather noticeable, particularly if I had a Year 4 lesson followed by a Year 10 one – the change going from younger ones to teenagers in a matter of minutes, meant you had to adjust quite quickly, but I do enjoy teaching all ages. Pupils at senior school level tend to have more ideas and they work more independently – they will come to you with an idea of something they would like to make and then make it happen. The younger ones are full of energy and very enthusiastic about everything and are just happy being creative and making things under direction.

What have been your highlights since being at Lambrook?

One particular highlight was last year in Games where my netball team had a whole season where they were unbeaten! From a Design and Technology perspective – we took part in our first Robotics Competition back in 2019 and did very well in that, which was a new experience for the school.

I have also really enjoyed seeing Design and Technology develop and us as a school trying new projects, using different materials that we hadn’t been using previously. It has been great having more time to work on projects in our after school clubs, where pupils have suggested some fantastic things to design and make.

Lambrook pupils are always willing to give things a go and most of the time, always happy. It is very rare that you get someone coming into your lesson in a grump. They want to be there, and are extremely enthusiastic about everything they do in Design and Technology!

What clubs and activities have you offered at Lambrook?

This year we have started using more textiles, using the sewing machines in lessons and as part of an Activity. Pupils have made bunting, bags, and currently in remote learning, pupils have been making all sorts of things at home, including cushions and rucksacks. Pupils have been incredibly creative, suggesting some great ideas for what they would like to make and they have a go at it.

What’s the thing that you are most proud of making/creating yourself?

I have quite a few nieces and nephews as I am the youngest of 4 children. I like making presents for them and recently I made a selection of night lights to go on the wall, that changed colour, which went down well! I really enjoy making things that can then be gifted to someone.

What do you do outside of school to relax?

I enjoy playing sport, which unfortunately at the moment, I can’t do. I play netball and I used to play quite a lot of hockey. I enjoy crafts such as embroidery and cooking and I especially like cooking Thai food.

On the subject of food, what is your favourite chocolate bar?

I am probably more of a sweet person, but if it had to be chocolate, then it would be a Double Decker.

Where and what is your favourite building or structure?

I really like Art Deco architecture and so not necessarily one specific building, but a type of building. I went to Miami where there is a lot of Art Deco Hotels and you can walk around the streets and all of the houses which are also Art Deco, and I really enjoyed seeing them. I am also a bit of a theme park fan so would have to fit in some of those during a visit to Florida!

Design and Technology is often deemed an extra – how important is Design and Technology as a subject?

I think it is a really important subject because it teaches you lots of transferable skills, such as, being given a design brief and being able to follow that project through and manage your time. These skills are really important in so many subject areas both now in also and in later life and schooling. There is also the aspect of the subject being hands on where pupils can put into practice lots of the things that have been learnt in science and maths. The practical implication actually helps children to learn and build on a concept as they can see it being put into place. It can be a welcome change from some of the other subjects – some children really thrive in it, when they might not be as able in other subjects, they may do really well in Design and Technology.

Is Design and Technology a science or a craft?

I would say both. There is a craft aspect – working with different materials and working accurately and following instructions, but you also have to be able to apply technical information. If you were designing something, you would need to know about the materials, which is very much the science. If you were creating a structure that was strong, you would need to put physics into place. It is definitely a bit of both!

How has lockdown affected Design and Technology?

In lessons, it has been a bit tricky having pupils working at home as children don’t have access to the same tools and if they do, there are obvious health and safety considerations! But on the flip side, it has also given pupils time to try new things, learning new skills and having the time to be creative. It has also given us the chance to focus on the design elements that we might not normally have as much time for at school.

Next week is Children’s Mental Health Week and we will be marking this at Lambrook. What have you been doing during lockdown to look after your own mental health?

I go for regular walks as I like being outside and at the weekend, I make sure I do a longer walk. I have got to know the Bracknell area very well! I think also keeping in touch with friends and touching base and having proper conversations with them on the phone, which always helps your general wellbeing.

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