New Fashion and Textiles Technical Award: the future of fashion

Published: Tuesday 14 Jun 2016

We’ve developed a new Technical Award in Fashion and Textiles for young learners who want to study textiles in a practical way. The new qualification will be available for first teaching in September 2017.

It provides opportunities to understand the working properties of materials and commercial and industrial practices within the fashion industry. Along with the new GCSE in Design and Technology, it replaces the outgoing GCSE in Textiles Technology, but has a more practical, skills-based focus, developing the core skills needed to design and make textile products.

Technical Awards are practical, vocational qualifications available to 14-16 year olds to take alongside GCSEs. If approved by the Department for Education, a single award will be equivalent to a GCSE qualification and will count towards performance tables. They could then be included in Progress 8 as part of the non-Ebacc open group of subjects.

Course content

Learners will have the opportunity to use traditional skills and also modern technologies. Our new qualification enables learners to:

  • develop a broad knowledge of materials, components and technologies
  • develop practical skills
  • design and make products that demonstrate creativity and originality
  • develop decision-making skills through both independent, team and collaborative work
  • communicate their decisions effectively to a third party
  • read, interpret and work from drawings, plans and instructions
  • produce working drawings and production plans
  • develop an understanding of quality and how this can be achieved by making to fine tolerances
  • use materials efficiently in relation to cost and environmental  impact
  • demonstrate safe working practices
  • use key technical terminology related to materials and processes
  • develop the knowledge and understanding to evaluate and refine their own skills whilst making
  • develop an awareness of commercial practices and employment opportunities.

All learners will be taught and assessed in the same way, and there is no need to split your class into Level 1 and Level 2.

Assessment structure

There are two internally-assessed units, and a third unit that is externally assessed:

Unit 1: Skills Demonstration (30%)

Learners have the chance to carry out a number of bite-sized projects to demonstrate their competency in the core skills outlined in the specification. They’ll record their work in a portfolio.

These skills include:

  • joining and finishing using seams
  • applying functional components
  • surface embellishment
  • combining materials
  • shaping and control of fullness
  • edge finishes and facings
  • patch pockets
  • fabric manipulation
  • colouring fabrics
  • developing and modifying a pattern
  • sleeve setting
  • team work and collaboration

Unit 2: Extended making project (30%)

For this unit, learners will undertake an extended project that showcases the skills they have developed in unit 1.

Example briefs learners might receive:

  • In recent years it has become popular to ‘upstyle’ home furnishings. Develop and make an upcycled interior textile product that reuses clothing, home furnishings and accessories. It should appeal to the teenage market.
  • Children’s clothing needs to be durable, comfortable and attractive. Develop and make one item of children’s clothing suitable for wearing in a nursery school environment.
  • Many young people choose to express their individuality through the clothes and accessories they wear. Develop and create either an item of clothing or a fashion accessory that would appeal to the teenage market.

The project will be marked against the following criteria:

  • planning and development
  • making
  • testing and evaluation
  • communication

Unit 3: External assessment (written exam – 40%)

Learners will be assessed on the following topics:

  • Materials and components
  • Skills
  • Tools and equipment
  • ICT and CAD/CAM
  • Health and safety
  • Social, environmental, cultural and economic issues
  • Commercial practice
  • Employment opportunities

Why choose AQA

Insight from teachers:

The structure and breakdown of unit 1 allows students to be enthused by a range of small projects.

Daniel Mokhtari, Head of Design and Technology, The Hermitage Academy, County Durham

The practical work and exam relate directly to students’ knowledge of textiles and fashion.

Michelle Minvielle, Head of Design and Technology, President Kennedy School and Community College, Coventry

Where this award leads

This Technical Award is designed to equip learners with the practical skills in Fashion & Textiles they need to progress to further general or vocational study. They’ll develop a broad understanding of the sector so they can make informed decisions about their career opportunities.

Learners will also develop valuable transferable skills including communication and collaboration.

We’ve worked with post-16 education providers to ensure that Technical Awards count equally alongside GCSEs when applying to do further study in either general or vocational qualifications.

Support and resources

We’ll be submitting our draft qualification to the Department for Education in September 2016, when we’ll share the draft specification with you. We’re also planning a series of free support events throughout the autumn term, alongside a full set of resources.

Design and Technology Technical Award qualifications

We have developed a suite of four Technical Awards in the following subjects:

These qualifications complement our GCSE in Design and Technology and Food Preparation and Nutrition.

Contact us

Our subject team is here to help. Sign up for updates on our new Technical Awards, or contact Amanda Luby and the customer support team on 0161 957 3334 or by email at

See all updates