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

at Leicester and UN

a screenshot of a teacher in their office over Collaborate.

December 19, 2021
by Jean

Learning about education in other places in the world on the BALT course

a screenshot of a teacher in their office over Collaborate.This week our BA Learning and teaching students had the opportunity to talk with a teacher working in an international school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

Module tutor, Laura-Jane Devanny, organised this experience to help bring to life the PDT3009 Education beyond boundaries module that they are currently studying.

Simon Clark, Deputy Headteacher at the British International School, Jeddah, talked to the students about his career path since qualifying and completing his QTS year in England. This included working in schools in Bali, China and Saudi Arabia. He was able to share his knowledge and experience about education in other places and the impact culture, economics and politics can have on educational systems. 

He started by asking the students where in the A screenshot of the Leic group's ideasworld they would like to be teaching right now and there were some interesting ideas shared on the Menti by the Leicester group, pictured here, and also by the Northampton group. 

The students also contributed their ideas of what culture is before Simon went to discuss aspects of education in other countries and the part culture plays in influencing how schools operate and how learning takes place in the classroom, as well the impact on day to day life.


summary of culture shockCulture shock and how people adapt to teaching in very different places was also discussed. When BALT students are considering their own comparisons they could be considering differences in cultures between countries as a factor in the exchange of ideas and implementation of approaches.


It was interesting to hear about the differences and similarities between what happens in the classroom, links to the local communities and the effect of Covid19 in other places. 

a screenshot of the Collaborate screenStudents had the opportunity to ask questions about the curriculum, inspection, assessment and funding. 

We were very grateful to Simon for his time and enthusiasm in giving us insight into education elsewhere in the world. 

November 25, 2021
by Jean

Exploring the computing curriculum on FDLT Y1

This week on the FDLT Y1 course we were fortunate to have some expert and specialist visitors in our PDT1076 session. This was organised for us by Beverly Clarke, the National Community Manager at Computing At School (CAS) and facilitated by Wendy Piccinini. 

CAS input (Hello World magazine)The first part of the session was a virtual meeting to introduce us to the resources and support that CAS offer to schools.

This includes the Teach Computing resources to support the computing PoS in primary and secondary schools and the Hello World magazine

I recommend you go to this link and download The Big Book of Pedagogy from Hello World, a special edition that focuses on approaches to teaching computing, and also subscribe to the free magazine.

Exploring computing concepts and vocabularyThis was followed by an introduction to Barefoot Computing from Dr Jon Chippendall with a focus on introducing the concepts and language of computing to pupils through drawing Crazy Characters and  thinking about algorithms and abstraction. 

We also were introduced to the Climate Change resources:

Recycling warriors (for KS1 pupils) using the PaintZ app.

Planet Protectors (for Y3 and Y4 pupils) using StopMotionStudio to make an animation

Power Savers (for Y5 and Y6 pupils) using Canva to make a video

using tech to support pupils with SENDWill Franklin then introduced us to some tools to support learners with SEND in the classroom, including the Microsoft Immersive reader; speech to text to support writing; the Easy Dyslexia Aid app and Ridit. He also reminded us that we can use the built in accessibility tools in any of the devices that we use ourselves and with pupils.

Finally Alison Sheldon gave us five top tips for computing 5 top tips for using tech in EYFSin the EYFS. It was great to see how technology can be incorporated  into play and to have some recommendations of useful sites and apps such as Poisson Rouge and Efexio

The second half of the morning was based around physical computing using the Crumble kit and our laptops. In Northampton this was led by Neil Rickus and in Leicester by John Jeffries. This was an opportunity for the students to write code to make things happen in the real world, a powerful learning experience for us and for pupils. This resource can help us connect computing to Design technology and Science as well as other curriculum areas. 


Crumble kit and codeThe students tinkered with the kit and code, learning make lights change colour and go on and off, and make motors and buzzers work.

This kit can be borrowed by schools from local NCCE hubs – these can be searched for here.


Your local hubs are:

Beauchamp College (Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland)

Denbigh College (Milton Keynes and Northants)

Upton Primary School (Northants) (Satellite school, launched last week)

If you or your school is seeking support and inspiration with the computing curriculum there are some great resources and people available through the organisations you met this week. 

Next steps:

Join CAS, Barefoot Computing, Teach Computing and subscribe to Hello World.

Follow the following accounts on twitter to add them to your developing personal learning network: @CompAtSch, @CASInclude, @HelloWorld_Edu, @BArefootComp, @RaspberryPi_org, and search for the people you met this week as well.

Look at the online and face to face events available through your local hub or nationally.

Think about your own subject knowledge and what your school offers in this area and how you might go further as you move through your career. 

November 17, 2021
by Jean

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

This week the FDLT Year 1 students visited the Van Gogh Immersive Experience in Leicester. It is set in All Saints Church in the centre of Leicester and is based around using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) digital technology to experience the world and art of Vincent Van Gogh in a new way. 

Van Gogh's bedroom recreatedIt begins with some background information about Van Gogh’s life using a time line, a short video and a recreation in real life of the bedroom from one of his paintings: “Bedroom at Arles”, painted in 1889.

This allows children to really step inside the painting so introducing them to it before the visit would be a good idea. Here’s some information about the painting from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

It makes me think of how we might plan and resource imaginative play in the Early Years and beyond with the world of a painting as the focus, where we often would use stories or areas of the curriculum as the focus for the learning environment.

some photos of the experienceThe next section of the experience is the immersive part that uses AR technology to bring the life and world of Van Gogh to life. Projections are made onto the walls and floor accompanied by the words of Van Gogh from his letters and diaries and some music. We were able to sit on the carpet, benches or deck chairs and immerse ourselves in the experience. Some of it was creating a sensory experience around the paintings, with water pouring from the river paintings and some brought the paintings to life by connecting them, such as when all the landscapes were displayed and a train ran through them all the way around the room.

experiencing VR

The next section contains some activities for children – drawing on blank walls with crayons and drawing and uploading their sketches into a display using a QR code.

The final section was for the students to put on VR headsets and fully be taken into another world! This started in Van Gogh’s bedroom and then took us outside to explore the landscape that inspired some of his paintings. This really allowed us to see his inspiration and what he created in response to it. 

Taken altogether the students experienced the life and art of an artist in a  number of different ways: it would be interesting to see how this could be used to support and inspire learning for pupils of a range of ages, as well as some of the challenges that they might need to overcome.

Dede et al. (2017, p.4) define this kind of digital experience as “Immersion in a mediated, simulated experience (VR, MUVE, or AR) involves the willing suspension of disbelief.” This is an approach that we often use with pupils in the classroom in stories and drama and so exploring how digital techniques might develop this further is an interesting idea. You can explore some other classroom approaches to AR using mobile devices in this digital book.


Dede C.J., Jacobson J. and Richards J. (2017) Introduction: Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities in Education. In: Liu D., Dede C., Huang R. and Richards J. (eds) Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities in Education. Singapore: Springer. pp.1-19.

September 6, 2021
by Jean

Your first day (FDLT)

We are looking forward to welcoming students to the FDLT course next week (week beginning September 13th). You will have been receiving emails from us and from the university about starting the course.

What should I do before I come to the first day?

Make sure that you have completed pre-enrolment. You can find out more about this here.

Make sure you have introduced yourself to the group on your group’s getting to know you padlet. The information about this was in a blog post made last week and emailed to you last week. Go back to this padlet a few times to read new posts and comment on some to start getting to know each other. You will meet each other face to face next week.

You should contact ASSIST if you have any additional needs relating to disability, medical condition, autism, specific learning differences (like dyslexia) or a mental health difficulty including if you will need assistance during arrival.

What should I bring on the first day?

When you come please make sure that you have everything you need to complete your enrolment. There is information about this here.

Bring a bag as we will be giving you things and you are likely to collect your laptop if you are enrolling as a full time student (ie with no exemptions from modules).

Information about our Covid19 precautions can be read here. Whilst the wearing of face coverings is no longer a legal requirement, we strongly urge students and staff to continue to wear face coverings inside University buildings, with the exception of University Halls of Residence, sports facilities and catering areas.

You should also bring a pen and something to make notes in.

You might like to bring a drink and snacks although there are refreshments available to buy on campus. 

Where should I come to on the first day?

the atrium in the learning hubBoth groups will be coming to the Waterside campus for the first day. The Leicester group will be based at Devonshire Place thereafter. You can find out more about the location and parking at Waterside here.

We will be meeting in the large open space on the ground floor of the Learning Hub. Look out for Abbie and Jean and email Jean if you get lost or need help.

Look out for students whose posts you have read on the getting to know you padlet as well.

There is a map of the Waterside Campus here.

What will happen on the first day?

On your first day you will meet the course leader, Abbie Deeming and another of the course tutors, Jean Edwards. You might already have met or talked with us at an open day or interview. We will guide you through the day. 

We will first take you to enrol and you will also collect your welcome package laptop at some point in the day. 

After that we will have an induction session in one of the large classrooms so we can be together as a group and still appropriately socially distanced. Abbie and I will talk you through key information about the FDLT course and you will have a chance to ask us questions.

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 

We are looking forward to meeting you next week.

September 1, 2021
by Jean

Say hello to your new group

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

Leicester group Padlet https://uon1.padlet.org/jean_edwards/LEICY1intro21

UoN group Padlet https://uon1.padlet.org/jean_edwards/UoNY1intro21

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

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 10th.

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

Below is a short video demonstration of how to make a post. 

August 27, 2021
by Jean

Making a digital avatar

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.




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 24, 2021
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 with Pupil Premium

Any unusual or distinctive features of the school

Details about your own role

August 17, 2021
by Jean

Preparing to start Year 1: reading

You were sent this FDLT course reading list in July:

Made with Padlet

Here are some further suggestions for pre-course reading:

Bates, B. (2016). Learning theories simplified : … and how to apply them to teaching. London: Sage.

Have a look in particular at the sections on Vygotsky, Bruner, Dewey, Piaget, Engelman, Bandura and Skinner.  This book is easy to read and each section is relatively short. You will find it useful in a number of the modules that you study.

Also familiarise yourselves with the findings and recommendations of these two research projects:

Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., Brown, P., Martin, C., Russell, and Webster, R. (2009) Deployment and Impact of Support Staff Project, Research Brief. [online] Available from: http://maximisingtas.co.uk/assets/content/dissressum.pdf [Accessed: 15/07/2020]

Sharples, J., Webster, and Blatchford, P. (2015) Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants Guidance Report. [online] Available from: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/sites/ioe/files/TA_Guidance_Report_MakingBestUseOfTeachingAssisstants.pdf [Accessed: 15/07/2020]

You can click on the links in the references above to access these reports. We will be discussing these in one of the first modules that you will study.

August 13, 2021
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.