A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

at Leicester and UN

November 29, 2022
by Jean
1 Comment

A visit to VR Therapies

A view of the swimming with dolphins room!Today the FDLT Year 1 students visited a local social enterprise, VR Therapies, in St Giles Street, Northampton. 

“Our magical multisensory centre features an activity room, wheelchair-accessible VR driving simulators, an interactive sensory room, and even the world-first combination of hydrotherapy with underwater VR headsets. Now everyone can experience swimming with dolphins!⁠

We are fully accessible and inclusive, making it ideal for all ages, with staff experienced in supporting SEND and disabilities.” (VR Therapies, 2022, lines 9-12).

The students were able to hear about how virtual reality simulations, games and experiences can be used to support learning in the curriculum; help pupils prepare for new experiences and regulate their behaviour and emotions. They were also able to to see and use some of the equipment and devices that can be used at VR Therapies or brought into their own settings. 

A view of an ipad that shows what the user could see in their VR headset as they coloured their VR landscape.Painting in VR

We had the opportunity to paint and colour in in virtual reality allowing us to control and change the environment. This gives the user a sense of empowerment and support creative exploration. It is possible for those not in the VR headset to see what is being created so that they can react and provide encouragement and support. 

A view of what the user could see in VR.Exploring places in the real world in VR

It is possible to explore the natural and manmade environment to support learning in subjects such as geography (Africa), science (wildlife under the sea) and many more. his acts not as a replacement for real experiences but an opportunity to access places not usually available to young children and bring their learning to life.

It is also possible to experience jobs and roles in engineering, construction, retail and other careers to get a sense of what the viewer might enjoy and be suited to and help them make decisions about their future and inspire them.

Another useful application is for pupils to be able to explore new environments that they will be visiting before they go, to boost their confidence and ease transitions. 

Exploring places we can’t visit 

One of the great benefits of using VR technology is the the viewer can experience and explore places it would be impossible to go to such as space, and fantasy and adventure realms. We were shown experiences based around learning about space travel and working in space as well as in more fantastical places. 

An adult sitting in a driving seat, wearing a VR headset and looking at a screen that shows the view from a car windscreen.VR technology and health

the responsive lights - these change in response to sound and voicesSome of the technologies Rebecca and Matt introduced us to are used to help people manage their emotions and improve their mental health. These include meditation, biofeedback and calming sensory experiences as well as opportunities to improve physical skills of co-ordination post-stroke including driving. Some of the equipment that we saw and tried gives feedback to users using lights responding to sounds and voices. 

We had a comprehensive overview of the possibilities of using VR in therapies and education. We also explored using our own devices and augmented reality in the university session where we explored using Merge cubes, Google AR objects and other apps and tools that can be used in the classroom. 


You can find out more about VR Therapies by exploring their website (link above, following them on Instagram (@vrtherapies), twitter (@VRTherapies) and facebook.


VR Therapies (2022) Home page. VRTHerapies.co.uk [online] Available from: https://vrtherapies.co.uk/ [Accessed 29/11/2022].

six of our FDLT graduates in gowns at Waterside Campus.

November 19, 2022
by Jean

Congratulations to our FDLT and BALT graduates!

We were delighted to see our FDLT and BALT graduates receive their degrees at graduation last Tuesday. The ceremony was such a tribute to their hard work and commitment.

six of our FDLT graduates in gowns at Waterside Campus.

Some of our FDLT graduates at Waterside Campus before going to the ceremony.

A group of BALT graduates in their gowns, throwing their caps up in the air after graduation.

A group of BALT graduates in their gowns, throwing their caps up in the air after graduation.

September 14, 2022
by Jean

Speaking like a specialist from Voice21

Voice21 is the UK’s oracy education charity. You can read more about their mission and role here. We have looked at their resources in PDT1068 English sessions.

Each October they run a month long campaign called Oracy October and this October the focus is Speaking like a Specialist.

This year’s theme is ‘Speaking like a Specialist’ and explores what high-quality talk looks like in different subject disciplines.

Voice21 explains:

“We want teachers to use the month to encourage students to talk like subject experts, raising their understanding of oracy by challenging them to speak like specialists in different areas of the curriculum. What does it mean to speak like a scientist? How does this differ from speaking like a historian, or to the expectations of high-quality talk in English or maths? While most of our communication skills can be universally applied, talk in different subject areas and disciplines has varying purposes. Raising students’ awareness of these differences supports them to become flexible and resilient communicators.”

(Voice 21, 2022, lines 2-6)

An image of people who are specialists in their subjects.

Voice21, 2022



There are a number of webinars that you can sign up for focused on high-quality classroom talk in science, art, English. mathematics and humanities. You can find the sign up pages here. You can also send off for some supporting resources here

If you are supporting learning in the classroom, knowing more about subject specific language will help you in your role.


Voice21 (2022) Oracy October 2022. [online] Available from: https://voice21.org/oracy-october-2022/ [Accessed: 14/09/2022].

Vocie21 (2022) Speaking like a specialist. image. [online] Available from: https://mynorthamptonac-my.sharepoint.com/personal/jean_edwards_northampton_ac_uk/Documents/JE%20my%20docs/Pictures%20(2)/FDLT/FDLT%20blog%20stuff/voice%2021.png?Web=1 [Accessed: 14/09/2022].


September 10, 2022
by Jean

Your first day on the FDLT course

Some reminders about the first day on the FDLT course.

Where should I come to on the first day?

Each group will be going to their venue for the first day of the course in week beginning September 12th:

Tuesday September 13th: UON group at Waterside Campus, Northampton

Thursday September 15th: Leicester group at Devonshire Place, Leicester.

You will have been told which room to look for at enrolment and induction on Saturday 10th September. 

What will happen on the first day?

On your first day you will meet  Abbie Deeming or Jean Edwards. You will have met both of us on Saturday. We will guide you through the day which comprises of two sessions, the morning session from 9am until midday and the afternoon session from 1pm until 4pm. 

What should I bring?

You should also bring a pen, something to make notes in, your laptop and the reading and other paperwork that we gave you at the induction on Saturday 10th September. 

You might like to bring a drink and snacks although there are refreshments available to buy at Waterside and there ore local shops and cafes very near Devonshire Place.

What if I have any worries or questions?

It is natural to feel nervous when you are embarking on a new part of your life. Starting at university is a big step but you have all applied for and been offered a place on the course because it is the appropriate next step for you right now. There will be lots of people supporting you at home and at school and you will find that there are lots of people here at university to help you too, both as part of the course and in the wider organisation. 

If you have any immediate concerns or questions email the Admissions Tutor, Jean Edwards, jean.edwards@northampton.ac.uk or the course leader, Jean Edwards jean.edwards@northampton.ac.uk 

We are looking forward to meeting you and working with you on the FDLT course. 

August 30, 2022
by Jean

Your school context

When you begin to take part in discussion about your setting and begin to write assignments you will need some basic information about your school to provide contextual background. It would be useful if you could collect this information and have it to hand over the opening weeks of the course.

This includes:

Type of School (LA / Academy etc)

Location of school (rural, suburban, urban)

Age of pupils

Number of pupils on roll

Number and type of staff

% of pupils with SEND

% of pupils learning EAL

% of pupils receiving support from Pupil Premium funding

Any unusual or distinctive features of the school

Details about your own role

August 25, 2022
by Jean

Making an avatar to use in profile pictures

You might wish to create a image of yourself that you can use instead of your photo in profile pictures on NILE and other tools that we use.

Here are many ways of doing this. Here are two suggestions:


face.co screen shotScroll down to see the first choice screen and start making choices about your appearance.

You can construct a simple face and save it as a .PNG to upload as a profile picture. In this tool you cannot save and edit your image.


This is the image I made to use in some of my profiles:

an image of me made using Face.co






bitmoji screen shot

Bitmoji is a more sophisticated tool that the one above. You will need to open an account and there are many choices that you can make when generating your image. Once you have decided on your design you can generate it as a face or full figure and choose it in many poses, with or without text. 

You will have seen Bitmoji images used widely on social media lately. 

August 22, 2022
by Jean
1 Comment

Introducing yourself to your new group

Before you start the FDLT course we’d like you to introduce yourself to the group on this Padlet.

There is no need to have a Padlet account of your own to post onto the Padlet. All you need to do is click on the link above to open the Padlet and click on the pink plus sign to open a box to type into.

You will be asked for a password and this was emailed to you earlier today.

You should also upload a photo by clicking on the upload arrow at the bottom left below the text box. 

Add some text to tell us which venue you are studying at, what your role is and anything else you’d like us know. If you use another version of your name (eg Jo instead of Joanna) add this too.

Here is an example:

Hello, I’m Jennifer and people call me Jenny. I work as a TA in a school in Leicester and I’m attending the Leicester group. I’ve been a TA for five years now and I mainly support in Key Stage 1. I work in the classroom and support some specific groups with interventions in phonics, mathematics and social skills. Outside my job I like running and yoga. In the long term I would like to be a teacher or SENDCo. I’m looking forward to starting the course and a bit apprehensive about it too. 

If you want to comment or ask a question you can do this below the posts.

Please make sure that you have done this by September 8th.

If you need any help with this you can email jean.edwards@northampton.ac.uk 

August 8, 2022
by Jean

Exploring curriculum documents

Throughout the FDLT and BALT courses you will often need to read and refer to curriculum documents. 

These are some of the key documents:

For Early Years:

This is a link to the page where you can access and download the Statutory framework for the early years.

This is the reference that you will use in assignments:

DfE (2021) Statutory framework for the early years. GOV.UK [online] Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/596629/EYFS_STATUTORY_FRAMEWORK_2017.pdf [Accessed 12/07/21]. 

For primary and secondary:

This is the link to the full national curriculum for all key stages and subjects. It is this document that you should use in assignments.

This is the reference that you will use in assignments:

DfE (2014) National Curriculum in England: framework for key stages 1 to 4. GOV.UK [online[ Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/381344/Master_final_national_curriculum_28_Nov.pdf [Accessed: 15/07/2020].

It would be useful for you to save the relevant links, download the documents and read through the pages relevant to your age group.

You should also all read pages 1 to 13 of the national curriculum as this underlies the subject programmes of study.