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

at Leicester and UN

October 21, 2015
by Jean

Assessing Without Levels

AWLYou may have noticed that in mid September the ‘Commission on Assessment Without Levels: final report’ was published. It can be accessed here.

At this same link you can access two videos where John McIntosh CBE, Chair of the Commission discusses the benefits of developing new assessment and Sean Harford, National Director, Schools, Ofsted, talks about inspectors of schools assessment systems.

In addition to this you can explore the Association for Achievement and Improvement through Assessment (AAIA) website here. On this website you can see the development of the assessment without levels approach over the last few years, leading up to this report. You can also see videos of Dylan Wiliam and Tim Oates talking about aspects of the approach and also access the NCTL research report.

If you are on the FDLT course this information will be useful to you in year 1 as you work on the PDT1004 assignment and it will be useful to all students and TAs as you seek to keep up to date with changes in education and schools.


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

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).

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.