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

at Leicester and UN

January 13, 2015
by Jean

Next ECY Book Group January 26th

curiousThe next meeting of the Book Group will be on Monday 26th January at 17.30 in S036.

Light refreshments will be provided.

The book to be discussed will be ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime’ by Mark Haddon.

Copies are available for you to borrow by emailing Academic Librarian, Hannah Rose – hannah.rose@northampton.ac.uk

Please also follow on Twitter – @BookGroupUoN  and look out for the live Twitter feed from 18.30.

You may be interested to know that the National Theatre production of this book is coming the Royal and Derngate in Northampton from the 24th to the 29th March. I have seen this and I do recommend it. You can find out more about it at this link.

November 27, 2014
by Jean

ECYP book group – first meeting

goodbye-sarajevo-largeThe inaugural meeting of the Education, Children and Young People Book Group took place on the evening of 24th November. The chosen book was ‘Goodbye Sarajevo,’ an autobiographical account of two sisters’ experiences growing up in the Bosnian War of the 1990s.

A stimulating and provoking presentation on the history of Bosnia and on his personal experiences serving there with the RAF was provided by second year Education Studies student John Lewthwaite. This was followed by discussion and debate around the title, refreshments and an interactive question and answer session with remote students and staff in various locations through a live Twitter feed. You can see this if you follow @BookGroupUoN and the hashtag #bookgroupuon

FDLT students were represented at the face-to-face meeting and in the Twitter correspondence.

The next meeting will take place in S036 on 24th January at 17.30. The chosen title is ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ by Mark Haddon. Copies will be available from Academic Librarian Hannah Rose (hannah.rose@northampton.ac.uk) in the next few weeks and all are welcome to attend.

Tony Smith-Howell

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:




May 27, 2014
by Jean

TA TeachMeet at the School of Education

TMphotoOn Thursday 22nd May we held the first ever TeachMeet for Teaching Assistants (TAs) here at the School of Education, University of Northampton. Our aim was to use the ethos and structure of a TeachMeet and use it to allow TAs to share ideas, resources and enthusiasm for supporting learning.



We were sponsored by a range of companies and organisations who support learning and teaching including: Toshiba, Ecokids, Twinkl, Thinking Child, SEN Magazine, Crick Software, Teaching Assistant Focus and Springboard Stories. They gave us things to give away, raffle prizes and contributions to refreshments for the event. these all added to the sense of fun and excitement at the event.

At the event we had forty eight people, including teaching assistants and HLTAs from local schools and from further away including a party from Cambridgeshire. We had TAs and HLTAs who are also students on the FDLT course both Years 1 and 2. It was also good to see some of our applicants who will be joining FDLT Y1 in September. We were supported by staff from the School of Education including Julie Jones, Leader of the Education, Childhood and Youth Division and Wendy Yarnall, HLTA Programme Leader. Our FDLT Advocates were also present – April Bosworth, David Tristram and Chris Gilkes, talking to attendees about the course. The event was supported by Emma Stephenson, our Administrator and Stephen Bryant, our IT support who set up and managed a huge amount of IT including the bits I forgot, such as the guest login!

We were lucky enough to attract a range of speakers including:

Processed with MoldivSue Dixon, from Thinking Child, who shared ideas around ‘What can we do when children have switched off to literacy?’; Kevin Hewitson from ACE-d introducing strategies to teach multiplication; Junior and Edwina from The Fix Up team who shared ideas about self belief and motivations ‘you are amazing’; Greg Yarnall from Beanstalk Reads telling us about volunteer reading in schools; Joy Judge who sent a Prezi outlining the role and support offered by TA Focus and Dr Estelle Tarry from the School of Education who shared her research about TAs in an international context. I gave a presentation about how TAs can use Twitter to made contacts and share ideas.

Processed with MoldivAs well as this we were well supported by our own FDLT students who took the brave step of volunteering (or saying yes to my invitation) to share their practice at the event. James Underwood, our compere, made the important point that these presenters had come along after a day of being TAs and HLTAs and were immersed in the day to day activity of supporting the learning of individuals and groups of children.

We enjoyed presentations from:

Leonie Cox – Cued Articulation

Joy Davies – Everyone can have fun with geography!

Teresa Foster – QR Codes

Kim Bastin – using digital media and green screen

Louise Fordham – taking children to the Chelsea Flower Show

…and it was great to see a former student of ours, Dawn Parker, who shared a presentation about ‘Smart Through Art’ and the experience of  her pupils from a special school taking part in European exchanges based on art.

All the presentations were filmed and clips will be available soon, so if you weren’t able to come along you can view some of the event online. You can also look up the event using #TATMUN to see the tweets from before and during the event. At the end we evaluated using Padlet – a great classroom resource for class participation. We asked two questions – ‘what did you learn?’ and ‘what would you like to do next?’ We got some useful feedback and we’d like to build on the enthusiasm and positive reaction to this event in the future.

Feel free to add any of your comments about the event – we’d love to know your thoughts now you’ve had time to reflect.

Jean Edwards





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

January 13, 2014
by Jean
1 Comment

World Book Night 2014


You might have heard about World Book Night – this takes place each year on the evening of the 23rd April.

The Reading Agency run this event, which is focused around getting adults involved with reading. The aims of World Book Might are:


If you want to take part you can apply to be a World Book Night giver. I was lucky enough to be a giver last year and the year before. I gave out the Icelandic vampire novel ‘Let the right one in’ outside my local independent cinema to encourage people to read the book of the film and I gave out ‘Why be happy when you could be normal’ to a group of students to remind them of the pleasure that can be gained from reading – sometimes easy to forget when we’re reading for assignments.

There’s lots of information about applying to be a World Book Night giver here

The closing date is January 23rd 2014!

If you know of a group of people who you could encourage and motivate to read why not apply – you might want to encourage parents to read as this will influence their children’s attitude to reading. You might want to remind staff of their love of reading – vital when they are supporting children with reading.

On a smaller scale a great idea I recently saw on Twitter is this:


All staff display the cover of the book they are currently reading for their pupils to see. (thanks to @ASTsupportAAli for this idea).

January 7, 2014
by Jean


#Nuture1314 is a hashtag on Twitter – you might have noticed it if follow anyone in the world of education.If you aren’t on Twitter you can put #Nuture1314 into a search engine and the blog posts that have made made in relation to this will come up for you to browse through – you can home in on some that interest you and read them. You can also find links to lots of them in this storify:  #Nuture1314 storify


So   teachers and educationalists who blog have reflected upon their 2013 and written about 13 achievements or successes.They’ve then looked ahead to 2014 and written about 14 thoughts, ideas or resolutions. Here are a few that you might find interesting – but there are many more.

The extract above comes from Rachel Jones’s blog ‘Create Innovate Explore’ and you can read her post here: My#Nuture1314

This is one written by Fiona Peters, who is a primary teaching Assistant: Fiona Peters

If you support children with special educational needs you might be interested in this one: Cherrylkd SEN Advocate

If you teach or support art you might be interested in this one: MrsJoBaker

If you find a blog or blog post that you think others would like to read let me know by commenting on this post, tweeting me @JeanEd70 or emailing me and I’ll post a link here.

If you want to have a go do share it with us on this blog or by tweeting a link to it on #Nuture1314.


May 20, 2013
by Jean

Children’s onscreen reading overtakes reading in print

The National Literacy Trust has just shared some research that examines the influence of technology on children’s reading abilities and their enjoyment of reading. It found those who read daily only on-screen are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those who read daily in print or in print and on-screen (15.5% vs 26%). Those who read only on-screen are also three times less likely to enjoy reading very much (12% vs 51%) and a third less likely to have a favourite book (59% vs 77%).

National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas said:

‘Our research confirms that technology is playing a central role in young people’s literacy development and reading choice. While we welcome the positive impact which technology has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, it’s crucial that reading in print is not cast aside.

We are concerned by our finding that children who only read on-screen are significantly less likely to enjoy reading and less likely to be strong readers. Good reading skills and reading for pleasure are closely linked to children’s success at school and beyond. We need to encourage children to become avid readers, whatever format they choose.’

Read the research from the National Literacy Trust at this link.

Do you prefer to read print or read using an e-reader?

Have you noticed any changes in reading habits amongst the children you work with?

The full research report will be published later – there is some more supporting detail available at the link above.