BA Learning and Teaching students last week visited Adventure Ways outdoor education centre in Moulton. The students, all of whom work as teaching assistants, or in similar roles, learned how the centre works with children and young people who have difficulties coping with school-based learning. The students observed the centre’s staff working with groups of young people, and attended a workshop led by the centre’s CEO, Kurt Perryman in which they were faced with a series of scenarios presented by centre staff and some of their clients.
You may be aware that aspiring teachers have to sit the QTS Skills Tests in English and mathematics. Until recently if a test is failed three times the applicant would be locked out from retaking it for two years. This week a change has been announced.
“Currently, anyone who fails the compulsory numeracy and literary skills test three times in a row is banned from taking it again for 24 months. The rule was introduced in 2012 as a quality filter, but critics say it deepens the growing teacher recruitment crisis.
Now trainees will get an unlimited number of attempts at the test, and won’t even have to pay for their first two retakes, after the the government announced it will remove some of the charges that teachers pay.
Whereas trainees previously had to pay for any attempt after their first, the test will now be free for trainees on their second and third attempts too, saving them up to £77 each.
Refunds will also be given to anyone who has already paid to take the test since October 24 last year.”
(Whittaker, 2018, lines 12-23)
The article was updated today with this information:
“Update: The government has also confirmed that trainee teachers currently banned from retaking the test will be free to do so from Thursday, and will be contacted shortly to be notified that their account has been unlocked.”
(Whittaker, 2018, lines 53-55)
This will affect students currently in the BALT year who have recently taken the skills tests and those who plan to soon. It will also affect those who failed the test and were locked out.
Whittaker, F. (2018) QTS skills test: Lock-out period and retake charges scrapped. [online] Available from: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/qts-skills-test-lock-out-period-and-re-take-charges-scrapped/ [Accessed 13/02/18]
Last weekend we had the pleasure of attending the graduation ceremony at the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton.As tutors we always enjoy this opportunity to celebrate the successes our students. We know how hard they have worked to achieve their degrees.
My colleague Dr Emel Thomas said:
“BALT graduation February 2016 was a proud moment for me. I found myself reflecting and marvelling at the achievements of an amazing BALT year group! Three highlights: hearing a speech from the great Baroness Warnock, having BALT student Siobhan Fitzpatrick give the closing student speech and meeting students and their families afterwards to congratulate them. The following statement encapsulates the end of the BALT journey 2014-15 for me:
“Keep going, you’ll get there, every moment is your opportunity to add a little more value to your future”.
Emel, Dom and I enjoyed Gemma, a BALT student now on a PGCE course, telling us about her successful job interview at a school where she had once been a teaching assistant. the sense of her journey having come full circle and her enthusiasm for teaching was evident.
Julie Jones, Leader of Education, Children and Young People, said “Great to know that FDLT and BALT graduates are such confident, strong practitioners, proud of their degree level qualifications which are so relevant to their work-based practice.”
We were all sitting on the back row and Dom Murphy said:
“From my position, seated strategically out of sight at the back, I had a good view of people’s progress from approaching the steps up onto the stage through to shaking the vice-chancellor’s hand, so one of the highlights for me was seeing the expression on face after face after face change from “Don’t trip over, don’t trip over, don’t trip over” to a triumphant smile of achievement.”
It was huge pleasure for all of us to witness Baroness Warnock being presented with an honorary doctorate at the ceremony – seeing someone whose work we have read and quote and hearing her discuss key moments ion education was an unexpected bonus!
The students in their BALT year are stil working on their degrees so we hope this experience gave them the recognition they deserve for achieving their FDLT and the motivation to get back to their dissertations so they can graduate with BA honours this time next year.
If you have a story about graduation please post it below or email it to me and I will add it.
In July the University of Northampton is running a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called ‘Study Skills for Academic Success’.
Anyone can enrol on this course – the link is here.
If you are about to start a course in Higher Education this could be useful for you, and if you are moving on to a new stage of university education eg from FDLT Y1 to Y2 or from FDLT Y2 to BALT it could also be of interest.
On Monday June 22nd from 5pm until 7.30pm the Northampton Inspire network is holding its final event of the academic year.
The theme is ‘Forest Flight’ – and we will be exploring the physical and digital world across the curriculum and age groups with a focus on steAm (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics). There will be lots to join in with and take away to develop further in school. This time we will be making birds using card and de-constructed electronics, composing and recording music to go with them and displaying them in the Forest School.
Please visit the Northampton Inspire blog to see some of the Meetings and Teachmeets that we’ve held – there are plenty of resources for your classroom there too.
Free tickets for ‘Forest Flight’ on 22nd June are available at the link.
You might also be interested to follow up the Access Art Share a bird project. There is more information about this here.
How Can Schools Request to Receive a Bird?
Schools can register their interest by sending an email to email@example.com. Please note that we cannot guarantee any school will receive an artwork – it entirely depends on how many artworks we receive gifted by artists / makers. Artworks will be gifted by region on a first come first served basis.
If you decide to take part we’d love to hear about how you get on.
Let’s Teach Computing is a Department for Education funded MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). It is a free online six week course that will help you to deliver the primary computing curriculum with confidence by sharing practical ideas that you can use immediately in your teaching.
The course has been developed by senior lecturers in Initial Teacher Education, classroom practitioners and trainers so it is full of tried and tested activities that use equipment found in most primary classrooms and free to use software.
Week 1: Algorithms and Computational Thinking
Get to grips with the use of the terms like algorithm, abstraction and computational thinking.
Identify how computational thinking can be embedded in good primary school practice.
Week 2: Programming
Identify how to engage children in being able to write predict and debug programs
Apply programming skills using a variety of software
Week 3: Programming physical devices
Illustrate ways to help children design and write programs that accomplish specific goals including controlling or simulating physical systems
Week 4: Understanding the internet and keeping safe online
Outline ways in which pupils can be helped to become responsible, discerning and creative users of information and communication technology
Weeks 5 & 6: Using technology purposely for learning
Plan opportunities for children to use technology to produce creative digital artefacts using a range of devices and applications
You can access the course content for each week at any time once it is released. We suggest that in order to get the most out of the course that you spend up to 3 hours a week.
Throughout the MOOC you will be creating and sharing resources through a Google Community that you will have access to after course. You will have the opportunity to develop networks with other teachers and continue to share and collaborate.
One of the writers of this course is Helen Caldwell, a Senior Lecturer in our School of Education here at the University of Northampton. This is a wonderful opportunity to improve your subject knowledge and confidence in this very new area of the primary curriculum.
Go to the link above to find out more and sign up for the MOOC.
On Monday 23rd March we will be holding our next Northampton Inspire Network Meeting.
This will take place in the Sulgrave building – go to reception and you will be directed from there. it will start at 4.30pm although refreshments will be available from 4pm.
We will be creating immersive sensory experiences around a theme.
This session explores cheap and effective ways of creating multi sensory environments for visual and sound stimulation using portable dark and white rooms. We will experiment with a wealth of light and sound equipment, create images using luminous paint, and project sensory iPad apps and video onto 3D objects. The aim is to create controllable experiential activities that encourage engagement and interaction for all learners, and to think about creative ways of theming these. We have been inspired by the work of Richard Hirstwood: http://youtu.be/ihMSw8BIXF4 and http://youtu.be/PkIKpOn7y98.
You can book free tickets here and feel free to let others know about the meeting – it is for students. teachers, teaching assistants and other interested people.
Come along to an evening of sharing teaching and learning ideas. We’ll have mini presentations on creative classroom activities across the curriculum and there will be lots of ideas you can start using straight away. Everyone is welcome to join in: teachers from all types of schools, teaching all subjects and age groups. The main part of TeachMeet is hearing stories about any aspect of learning from teachers. It is a chance for teachers to meet to hear ideas from each other and be inspired by colleagues. Presentations can be on absolutely anything that you’d like to share from practice: the futuristic theme simply refers to the way our Events Management students are helping to style the venue.
We are delighted to welcome Sally Hamson, Head of Wollaston Community Primary School to help host our TeachMeet. We’ll also have refreshments and some exciting technologies to explore such as Oculus Rifts, Robotiky robots, Raspberry Pi add-on kits and green screening demos. Rebecca Heaton and Jean Edwards will be drawing some visual minutes for us to document the presentations.
You can sign up for a free ticket by clicking the link to the right of this post.
You can read some more information about the presenters at the TeachMeet wiki wiki
You can tweet about the event using #TMNorthants2015
Here’s a provisional list of presentations:
Seven Minute Micro-Presentations:
1) Digital Leaders from Standens Barn Primary: Imaginary Worlds @SnakeyChalmers
2) Wayne Chalmers and Helen Caldwell: School and University Digital Leaders working together @SnakeyChalmers @helencaldwel
3) Scott Turner: Making and programming Junkbots @ScottTurnerUoN
4) John Ginger: Programming with Robotiky robots @Robotiky
5) Katharine Childs: The impact of CodeClubs @primaryicttech
6) Jennifer Hogan from Irchester Primary School CodeClub: Our Story @Lab13_Irchester
Hello, I’m Dom Murphy, on the tutors on the FDLT course. I’ll be working with all three Year 1 groups so I look forward to meeting you very soon.
I also work with the Year 2 groups and on the BALT programme where I focus on the Professional Practice in Education module.
Before working at the university, I taught in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, mainly in primary, wearing many hats over the years: in my time I’ve been subject leader for (deep breath) Mathematics, P.E, Design Technology, Outdoor Education and History and ended up as a headteacher.
In my spare time, I try to keep fit by canoe racing and coaching.
Fiona Wilce was a Teaching Assistant on our first year of the FDLT course more than ten years ago. She went on to gain Qualified Teacher Status and within seven years she had become a Headteacher!
Fiona was appointed Headteacher of a primary school in Rutland in September 2013.
Fiona is now helping transform the lives of more than 160 pupils at St Mary and St John C.E.V.A Primary School where they have just been ranked top of Rutland Primary Schools in the expected national standards of Level 4+ in the end of Key Stage 2 SATs.
Fiona commented: “I have definitely found my vocation in life. I have loved every moment of my rapid teaching career, but my real passion lies in education leadership. I feel privileged to lead such a fantastic school. We are well on our way to becoming outstanding and I am incredibly proud of all the children and my amazing staff team.”
Julie Jones, Head of Division at the University of Northampton commented: “The decision to do the Foundation Degree in Learning and Teaching started a challenging and rewarding career path for Fiona. I am so pleased that she has achieved so much in the career which she loves. It is a privilege to have shared in Fiona’s tremendous commitment and enthusiasm whilst she studied at the University of Northampton and I am delighted that she is using her expertise to inspire children’s learning.”
Fiona has also led the school to great sporting achievements in the county with Year 5/6 Girls Football, Year 5/6 Tag Rugby and three pupils selected to represent Rutland at Twickenham. Both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 teams won the Gymnastics competition overall with many individual medals in the different disciplines too. Fiona received the prestigious ‘Outstanding Contribution to Primary School Sport Award’ in the summer from her previous Sports Partnership in Leicestershire.
The Ofsted Report concluded: “The head teacher has made a very positive start, has quickly established high expectations, built trusting relationships with staff and parents and is leading the school effectively… Good and sometimes outstanding teaching helps the pupils make rapid progress… and pupils’ attainment is above average in reading, writing and maths.”
If you are a graduate from the FDLT / BALT we would love to hear and share your story – do get in touch.