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

at Leicester and UN

February 28, 2014
by Jean

TAs all over the world!

Here at the University of Northampton we have a course for Teaching Assistants working in International Contexts (CITAC). It has been taught in Rome and is currently being taught in Romania.

Romainian TAs practical maths

Wendy Yarnall has just returned from teaching the Mathematics in the Curriculum module.

Here are the TAs in Romania exploring some practical mathematics in their session.

In April Julie Jones will be going to teach the English module.



Romainian TAs working 7 Estelle Tarry leads the CITAC course and she has been around the world working with TAs and their schools. It is interesting to note that Estelle says “The TAs in international schools use similar strategies supporting children’s learning in maths and English in the curriculum but with more of an emphasis on international mindedness which maybe schools in the UK should take stock of.”



Estelle and her colleagues have just written a book to support TAs who work in an international context. Perhaps some of our FDLT students have been TAs in schools abroad. It would be interesting to know what your thoughts are – what are the similarities or differences between your roles in schools abroad and the schools you work in now?

Tarry, E and Cox, A. (2013) Teaching Assistants in International Schools much more than cutting, sticking and washing up paint pots. Woodbridge: John Catts.

February 11, 2014
by Jean

Their one-to-one support can result in significant student progress

The results of two randomised controlled trials  published by England’s Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) on the 7th February 2014 noted that ‘teaching assistants can improve literacy and numeracy when they are deployed well’. Deploying TAs well included using them to support individual pupils within groups and delivering structured interventions.


One report relates to TAs’ impact on literacy using a ten week programme called ‘Switch-On Reading’ with year 7 pupils. Findings indicated that on average pupils made an additional three months progress, with even greater progress made by pupils eligible for free school meals and a low level of reading before the programme started. 308 pupils in 19 schools were involved in the research.

The other report evaluates ‘Catch Up’ numeracy, a one to one maths programme for primary aged pupils delivered at twice weekly sessions by TAs. The research (with 324 pupils in 54 schools) found that an average of three months progress was made by catch Up groups and four months progress by one to one support.

In total six reports were published and you can access them here – EEF Teaching Assistant reports

These are of interest to Teaching Assistants and schools. In addition they are of interest to university students who are studying education, learning and teaching. The EEF website is a useful resource to browse. You can read commentary and discussion about the research in a TES article here


You can access it here

February 9, 2014
by Jean


Each year when we attend graduation we are reminded of the extraordinary achievements of our students on FDLT and BALT!

This morning Julie Jones, Alison Flint, Wendy  Yarnall and I were privileged to see our FDLT students 2011-13 and our BALT students 2010-13 graduate at the Derngate in Northampton. As academics we look on from the stage as our cohorts of students take the stage one by one to be congratulated by the Chancellor of the University of Northampton and receive their degree certificates.


When we see our students for each one we can recall their interview and their progress through the first tentative steps when writing a 1000 word essay seemed like such a huge challenge and it seemed like such a juggling act to manage family, work in school and university assignments. We’ve seen such development and change in them so its great to see them at this formal recognition of all their work. Today it seemed like our students got so many cheers and whoops from family and friends as they crossed the stage – their families have been such support to them all the way through. We were especially proud that one of our students gave the vote of thanks!

After the ceremony we were so pleased to see happy graduates, meet families and catch up with what they are doing now.


We, the staff of the FDLT and BALT, wish our graduates every success with their future plans.