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

at Leicester and UN

October 24, 2014
by Jean

stories of assessment

Last week Dylan Wiliam tweeted this:


I know that lots of you have thought about formative assessment as part of PDT1004 and in other modules when you are reflecting upon practice. I know from talking with you in sessions that many of you are involved in formative assessment and  it would be interesting for him hear from Teaching Assistants and HLTAs so please do send him  any stories of formative assessment to the email address he has listed above.

October 14, 2014
by Jean

The Educators – Salman Khan

sal khanThe last radio programme  in the series The Educators featured Salman Khan, who set up The Khan Academy. It uses online video lessons with a mission statement that reads: ‘For free. For everyone. Forever.’

You can read more about The Khan Academy here:

The Khan Academy

You can read an article about Salman Khan here:

Guardian article

The first videos that Salman Khan posted were focused on secondary mathematics. If you are studying for your GCSE maths maybe you should have a look.

Salman Khan has also given a TED Talk that you can watch here:

TED Talk

Towards the end of the programme Khan talks about ‘flipped learning’ and the ‘flipped classroom’. By this he means that pupils or students complete set work outside the classroom and then in the classroom the teacher helps them understand it and gives them personalised support. The Education Endowment Fund is evaluating this approach and you can read more about it here:

EEF Research into flipped learning

If you have any experience of flipped learning or The Khan Academy please add your thoughts in the comments below.



September 1, 2014
by Jean

The Educators – Tony Little

On Wednesday 27th August Sarah Montague interviewed Tony Little on ‘The Educators’ on Radio 4. The programme is available on i-player and I will add it to Box of Broadcasts.

Tony LittleAs you can see from the programme blurb (left) Tony Little is the Headmaster of Eton College, a school unlike the schools most of us have or currently work at. What do you think about his views and ideas?

Earlier this month his views on the the approach to exams in England led to some media articles including this one in The Guardian newspaper – Exam system unimaginative

The letter that is referred to in the article is one that the Headteacher of Barrowfield primary sent to the pupils and parents of Year 6 in July. This is discussed in more depth in these two posts by Richard Rose:

Thank you for a letter of appreciation

Let not the facts get in the way of a good story

Perhaps your role relates to tests and exams directly or perhaps you have experience of tests and exams personally or wioth a family member. What are your thoughts?

The programme is supported by this link to the Open University website – OU The Educators

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.




December 11, 2013
by Jean

TAs in the OFSTED Report 2012/13

Today the Ofsted launched the Annual Report for 2012 / 13.

You can read the media coverage of this on various websites including the BBC website and the Education Guardian.

You can download the report itself from the OFSTED website. As university students you will be drawn to the primary source, the report itself. It is interesting for you to then compare this to the media interpretations.

It is interesting to note that the report mentions teaching assistants several times. Once on p13 in the section about teaching: here it discusses the need for ‘high performing leaders of teaching’ who could inspire a ‘high degree of consistency in the quality of teaching across the school’ and the need for all staff including teaching assistants (and midday assistants) to be ‘trained to have the same high standards and to challenge pupils to do better.’ Later, on p15 and p16 teaching assistants are identified as making contributions in the examples of outstanding teaching: one in a Year 3 lesson, using her skills as an Italian speaker to support pronunciation and several in a year 6 science lesson who reinforce and extend pupils’ learning by supporting them in making predictions and asking questions.


October 23, 2013
by Jean

Dylan Wiliam

Many academics who research and write about education share their work using Twitter, filmed lectures and their own websites. This can be useful for students as you can explore their views and insights in a variety of ways. An example of this is Dylan Wiliam, whose work you will have been learning about in the PDT 1004 Pupil Assessment sessions.

Dylan Wiliam’s website gives you access to some of his work. You can also follow him on Twitter @dylanwiliam. He regularly tweets links to interesting journal articles and pieces of research. Last week he tweeted a link that you may find useful. It takes you to a set of short videos he made exploring aspects of formative assessment – Journey to Excellence

Dylan Wiliam works at the Institute of Education and on his profile page on the website a list of some of his publications

You can also find some of his lectures and presentations on itunesU and an interview on teachers’ media. Finally Dylan Wiliam made two TV programmes called ‘The Classroom Experiment’. In these he implemented some of his ideas about formative assessment in a secondary school and the results were filmed. The views of children, teachers and parents and the effects on learning are interesting and worth exploring. These are available on YouTube and on Box of Broadcasts (BoB).