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

at Leicester and UN

June 26, 2014
by Jean

Celebrating HLTA

Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor of the University

Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor of the University

This week teaching assistants who gained Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) this year were welcomed to a presentation and celebration at Park Campus. HLTAs from all over the East Midlands came along, with the people who had supported them as they worked to gain the status. Ken Bland, who until recently led the programme, and Wendy Yarnall, who leads it now, reminded them of the learning journey they had taken and thanked their schools and families for supporting them. The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Nick Petford, gave a short speech to the audience highlighting how their roles in school exemplified the University’s own vision ‘transforming lives…inspiring change’.



Each HLTA was presented with their HLTA badge and a teddy bear to mark their achievement, and received a huge round of applause from the audience!

After these presentations the nominees for the East Midlands HLTA of the year were introduced and their nominations read to us – it was clear from the range of activities they were leading that they make a significant impact on children’s learning and well-being.

The Vice Chancellor, Nick Petford, and Azmeena Abdulla, East Midlands HLTA of the year.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford, and Azmeena Abdulla, East Midlands HLTA of the year.

Azmeena Abdulla, from Ash Field Academy in Leicester, won the HLTA of the Year (East Midlands) and she will go forward to the national presentations which includes a tour of  Houses of Parliament and a presentation in nearby Central Hall  in the Autumn. All the finalists were given framed certificates.

HLTAs of 20123-14

HLTAs of 20123-14

The new HLTAs and their guests ended the celebration with refreshments in The Hub, and a chance to catch up with each other and reflect upon their achievements.

You can read more about East Midlands HLTA of the year here

If you are interested in gaining HLTA status contact: emma.stephenson@northampton.ac.uk.




June 23, 2014
by Jean

A visit from Mr Drew

Last week the University of Northampton hosted an event at which Stephen Drew, from ‘Educating Essex’, spoke to local teachers about education.

Stephen Drew @StephenDrew72

Stephen Drew

The room was full of more than 200 teachers, teaching assistants and university staff. Stephen Drew’s talk was entitled ‘The Endless Learning Journey’ and he spoke about his beliefs and approach to learning and teaching with a great sense of commitment and a sense of humour. He showed us the values poster that his school uses to support behaviour – this was arrived at through discussion but his suggestion ‘dance every day’ did not make it to the poster! He reminded us of some important principles such as ‘every day with a child is a new day’ and ‘unconditional positive regard’ and asked us ‘why do we expect children to behave like adults?’ – we have to let them get it wrong and learn from this.

Lorraine, from FDLT Y2, with Mr Drew

Lorraine, from FDLT Y2, with Mr Drew

It was great to hear him refer to teaching assistants and support staff in his talk. He explained how he includes all staff on the learning journey – giving them opportunities to learn and develop and involving them fully in the life of the school. His team of coaches to support teachers includes support staff, providing an valuable alternative view of learning and teaching. Its great to hear someone so passionate and positive about learning – and he reminded us we need to keep ourselves refreshed. I liked his idea of the away from school training day ‘go where you want to’ INSET, where all staff went off to learn elsewhere.

Mr Drew, the endless learning journey

Mr Drew, the endless learning journey

Stephen Drew reminded us that children only get one chance to learn what we are teaching – we might teach it to another group this week, next term or in subsequent years and we might improve – but the children only have that one chance so we must prepared and able to do our job well.

The audience had the chance to ask questions – males in primary schools; support from other agencies, the parental role and other current issues. Stephen’s commitment to inclusion and supporting children to learn was apparent throughout his talk. It is so important that we hear from passionate and committed teachers like Stephen to remind us of the bigger picture and inspire us in our work.

You can read more about Stephen’s visit here – Educating Northamptonshire

June 19, 2014
by Jean



2014-05-30 21.35.10A few weeks ago @TeacherToolkit posted an article exploring some issues around handwriting – you can read it here – The Importance of Handwriting

On Twitter during that day a number of people tweeted examples of their handwriting. In the evening I tweeted this photo which led to the 1st of July being named #PenATweet day.

Below are my reflections on how my own handwriting has developed and changed over my life in education – what is your handwriting time line like?

hw1a 001 hw2a 001 hw3a 001 hw4a 001

BqfPIZZIcAAkOcO29th June

We’re just days away from #PenATweet day now!

Ross (@TeacherToolkit) has written a great blog post to get everyone started and you can read it here:

#PenATweet by @TeacherToolkit

I’ve made a ThingLink pointing you in the direction of some interesting links related to #PenATweet and handwriting generally:

Handwriting ThingLink

So here’s what to do on Tuesday:


I’m looking forward to seeing all the Tweets – don’t forget the #PenATweet in your tweet!

June 15, 2014
by Jean

Exploring World War 1 with FDLT Y2

Some students explored words - poetry or vocabulary.

Some students explored words – poetry or vocabulary.

This week we completed the PDT2008 curriculum module with an exploration of World War 1. The students used a ThingLink to follow interesting links to stories about World War 1 such as women in WW1, the role of animals, war artists, life at home, local stories, thankful villages and commemoration. You can see the ThingLink here and read more about making and using them here.

One student made a mini diorama, one explored the role of women and two others explored what 'thankful villages' were.

One student made a mini diorama, one explored the role of women and two others explored what ‘thankful villages’ were.

After exploring some of this material the students each used a matchbox as the basis for their response – they had to make a small artefact using or contained by the match box. This idea was inspired by the #moreTEA project happening in schools. You can read more about it here – moreTEA

It was interesting to see the different ideas and stories the students followed as they made their creations. You can see all of them on a Pinterest board here.

Some students explored and represented the roles of animals in war.

Some students explored and represented the roles of animals in war.board here. (I think they’re all there, but if yours isn’t please let me know!)


After they had finished their artefacts they were displayed with a title and maker name, and some were annotated with ideas for learning opportunities. Some students are taking the idea into their schools to try out and I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop.

Some students were inspired by the story of the pocket bears.

Some students were inspired by the story of the pocket bears.






Two students developed their artefacts further by choosing a piece of music to suit the mood of their work – you can see one of the videos here – Animal Mascots

Another way of developing this idea would be to use the app Pixntell to add a recorded description to go with each photo.



June 7, 2014
by Jean

FDLT Y1 exploring learning outdoors!

This week each FDLT Y1 group spent a day at an outdoor location to explore the potential for learning outside the classroom. The Oadby and UN groups visited Newton Field Centre near Kettering and the MK group visited Green Park near Aylesbury.

Oadby Y1 2014

Oadby Y1 2014


On Monday the Oadby group were lucky to have warm and sunny weather for their day at the Field Centre. Have a look on the Oadby Y1 1014 page for more details.

On Wednesday the UN group arrived amidst pouring rain but we did the river geography activities regardless! More details on the the Oadby Y1 2014 page of this blog.


UN Y1 4th June 2014

The MK Y1 group went to Green park, Aylesbury for their outdoor experience.

MK Y1 June 5th 2014

MK Y1 June 5th 201

To follow up the experience I have made a ThingLink for students to explore. This poses some key questions and recommends some useful reading and websites.

Click here to access it: