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

at Leicester and UN

September 29, 2017
by Jean
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Children’s Laureate

The current Children’s Laureate is Lauren Child and she is in this role from 2017 to 2019. This is what the Book trust said about her:

“The role of Children’s Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children’s books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field.

Lauren Child is a multi-award-winning, bestselling writer and artist whose books are known and loved the world over. She is the creator of characters such as Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola.” (Book Trust, 2017, lines 3-7)

Book Trust, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read more about her role here.

You can hear an interview with her here.

Last week in a newspaper article she argued that children should be given more time to “daydream and dawdle” and  be allowed to have free, unstructured time in which to be creative and improvise. (Child, 2017, line 10) Supporting children to be creative is something you might consider as a TA. How do we provide conditions or an environment that will encourage creativity in school? What is the adult role in this?

References:

Book Trust. (2017) Waterstones Children’s Laureate. [online] Available from: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/childrens-laureate/ [Accessed: 29/09/17]

Child, L. (2017) We should let children dawdle and dream. [online] Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/09/lauren-child-let-children-dawdle-and-dream [Accessed: 29/09/17]

 

September 22, 2017
by Jean
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Changes to assessment in primary schools

Last week the government published plans for changes to the way pupils are assessed at primary schools. You can read the announcement here.

“The reforms will:

  • improve the way that writing is assessed, so that teachers have more scope to use their professional judgment when assessing pupil performance
  • introduce a new assessment at the start of reception from September 2020 to act as the start point for measuring progress, so we can give schools credit for the progress they help pupils make in reception, year one and year two
  • remove the statutory status of end-of-key stage 1 assessments at the earliest possible point, from the 2022 to 2023 academic year, once the reception baseline is fully established
  • reduce burdens for teachers by removing the requirement to carry out statutory teacher assessments in English reading and mathematics at the end of key stage 2 from the 2018 to 2019 academic year onwards
  • improve the early years foundation stage profile, including revising the Early Learning Goals to make them clearer and align them more closely with teaching in key stage 1
  • introduce an online multiplication tables check, to be taken by pupils at the end of year 4, from the 2019 to 2020 academic year onwards.”

(DfE, 2017, lines 8-24)

The announcement also refers to the Rochford Review (2016). This will be of interest to those of you working with pupils working below expected standards.  It also provides links to revised teacher assessment frameworks, with further guidance and exemplification materials available later in the year.

If you are in FDLT year 1 you will be exploring assessment in the coming term so you will be interested to read the DfE announcement and follow the links to the Rochford Review and the teacher assessment materials.

Reference:

DfE. (2017) Improvements to the primary assessment system announced. [online] Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/improvements-to-the-primary-assessment-system-announced [Accessed: 22/09/17]

Rochford, D. (2016) The Rochford Review: final report. Review of assessment for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. London: Standards and Testing Agency.

 

September 4, 2017
by Jean
2 Comments

Collecting information about your school

When you begin to take part in discussion about your setting and when you 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

Unusual or distinctive features

 

August 25, 2017
by Jean
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No more boys and girls

Over the last two weeks BBC2 have screened ‘No More Boys and Girls – Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’ and it is also available on iPlayer until mid September. You can read more about it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 1

Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender?

In two hour-long programmes, Dr Javid sets out to find answers in a bold but simple experiment. He is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend Primary School on the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of gender-neutral treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.

Episode 2

Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender? Dr Javid is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend primary school in the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of ‘gender neutral’ treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.

Before he begins, he wants to understand what the kids themselves think – and their comments are shocking. Aged just seven, these kids have already absorbed the idea that boys are more important than girls, that strong is a word than only applies to boys and that the only thing that girls are better at than boys at is being pretty. As a doctor, Javid knows that there are basic biological differences between the sexes, but he believes our biology can’t fully explain why men and women’s life chances in the UK are still so unequal. He believes that how we treat our children in childhood has to be the deciding factor – and the latest research in how brains develop backs him up.

A visit to Prof Gina Rippon at Aston University, one of the UK’s leading experts in brain imaging and neuroscience, reveals that there is no such thing as a male or female brain type. Instead the brain is a plastic organ, shaped and moulded by experiences in which childhood is key. Giving boys and girls different toys to play with and different experiences as they grow up means that the genders develop different skills and different behaviours. So in theory, giving kids a childhood in which their gender doesn’t define how they are treated should enable to them to develop more equal abilities and attitudes – and ultimately allow them to forge their own paths in life regardless of their gender. But to be sure that his changes really do make a difference, he commissions Dr Stella Mavroveli from the psychometric lab at University College London to record what level of difference there currently is between the boys and girls across the spectrum of school subjects, but also in a range of behaviours and psychological traits from confidence and self-esteem to empathy and social skills. However much he was expecting to find differences between the boys and girls, Dr Javid is shocked by the test results. Girls show a consistent pattern of underestimating their academic abilities and lack confidence and self-esteem in comparison with the boys, while the boys demonstrate a worrying inability to express their emotions in comparison with the girls. The test results are enough to convince class teacher Graham Andre to adopt a broad range of changes and to eradicate from the classroom anything that reinforces the idea that boys and girls are fundamentally different. From the books the kids read to the way they are spoken to, the mission is to emphasize to the kids that gender makes no impact on what they are capable of achieving.

To achieve deeper transformation, Javid designs a series of focused interventions to target some of the children’s mostly deeply held views – from transforming their view of which jobs men and women are able to do to shocking them with the fact that contrary to what they have always believed, girls at their age are just as strong as boys. An emotional breakthrough for shy and under-confident girl Lexi convinces Javid his gender neutral approach is starting to work, but if he is to achieve real change he realises he is going to have to take his mission out of the school gates and into the kids’ home lives.

Out of school, Javid is astonished at how much childhood has changed since he was growing up. Clothes and toys have become a tsunami of pink and blue – ensuring that boys and girls play with toys that encourage very different behaviours. Boys playing with construction toys develop spatial awareness skills that girls simply don’t while surrounded by princess play outfits and dolls. He challenges the parents of Mr Andre’s class to clear out all of the gendered toys and clothes – and to change the way they divide housework and childcare. Will the parents get on board? And will Dr Javid’s gender neutral mission have produced meaningful change when he repeats his tests at the end of term?

How do the experiences shown in these episodes relate to your school and the pupils you support?

August 10, 2017
by Jean
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Locations and parking

We have two venues for study for the FDLT and BALT courses.

Park Campus, University of Northampton. The postal address is:

The University of Northampton
Park Campus
Boughton Green Road
Northampton
NN2 7AL

In September we will be moving to a new campus in the centre of Northampton called Waterside. We will keep you informed about the move and the new location during 2017/18. You can see more about the new campus here.

Devonshire Place, Leicester. The postal address is:

Devonshire Place,

78 London Road,

Leicester

LE2 0RA

If you have not been to your venue before you should try out the journey so that you are ready for the first visit in September.

There is parking available at both venues. At Devonshire Place you can access the car park via Prebend Street.  At Park Campus you can access the student car park but during the early weeks of the course you will need to apply for a barrier card. There is more information about travel and parking at Park Campus here. You might also consider public transport to both venues.

August 7, 2017
by Jean
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Study Skills

If you are starting a degree course it is worthwhile investing in a study skills book to support you as you develop approaches to academic learning. The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell is a good choice as it can support you throughout your three year degree. There are many other good study skills books too.

Now would be a good time to explore the early section ‘managing yourself for study’. This will help you think about starting to study in Higher Education and areas such as managing time and preparing for a new course.

There is a companion website with some additional materials to help you available here. In the Resource Bank you can find some audio files about critical analysis and creative thinking as well as a short interactive course called ‘What to expect from academic study’. You might find it useful to explore these resources.

 

Cottrell, S. (2013) The Study Skills Handbook. 4th ed. London: Palgrave.

 

August 3, 2017
by Jean
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Getting ready to study digitally

Using your computer, laptop or tablet will be essential to your success and efficiency as a student.

Managing resources:

Whilst you may receive paper copies of some materials, most will be in digital form for you to open as links or download and save to your computer. it is useful to be able to store these in folders related to each module that you are studying. these are the titles of the FDLT year 1 modules so you can make your folders now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving links

As you find resources and reading online you will also need to devise a system of saving and organising links. This might be saving links to a word document, using the tools on your browser or using a bookmarking tool such as Pocket.

As a student with access to the University of Northampton library you will be able to save useful articles and books within your library account. you will be introduced to this in the early weeks of the course.

You might find it useful to have a go with saving favourites or setting up a bookmarking tool now if you haven;t done this before.

July 31, 2017
by Jean
0 comments

Preparing your workspace

As you begin university you will need to consider where you are going to study at home and begin to prepare this space so that you are ready to use it from the beginning of September.

There are some hints and tips here and here that you might find useful.

You might get some inspiration from these photos of desks on this Pinterest board.

 

 

July 24, 2017
by Jean
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Looking out for opportunities to learn

As a student of education there are many sources that you use to gather information to support your studies. As you begin your course you will be introduced to university resources to help you access academic books and journal articles that will be crucial to your study. before that though you can look around for other sources of information and research.

This evening, for example, there is a documentary on Channel 4 called ‘Excluded at Seven’.

Inclusion and the management of behaviour is an issuer of concern to everyone who works in education. If you watch this documentary try to take an objective view, rather than a subjective or emotive view. Ask yourself how the scenarios shown relate to your experience and also how they relate to your school policy and education legislation.

There is a link here to take you to the government’s School discipline and exclusions information page.

 

On the radio there are more opportunities to begin to think about areas relevant to your study. A series called ‘Bring Up Britain’ on Radio 4 explores issues such as nuturing critical thinking in children, raising happy children and summer learning loss in the summer holidays. There is a list of episodes here. You can browse this list and find a few that interest you to listen to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you watch and listen remember that these are sources made for an audience of the general public, not for students who are studying education. As a student of education you need to consider where the information that underlies these documentaries comes from and how reliable it is. In some of them, or in the supporting information about them, you will find reference to research and academic studies and it is these that you should find and read to more deeply into the subject.

Look out for other interesting opportunities to broaden your knowledge and understanding of the wider world of education on Tv and radio.

July 5, 2017
by Jean
2 Comments

Study Skills for Academic Success

If you are starting the FDLT course in year 1 in September or currently in year 1  going into year 2 you can access this free online course here.

The course is designed to help you if you are about to study an undergraduate course with us or are in your first year and want to:

  • improve your study skills
  • develop your academic confidence
  • better understand what is expected of you in your degree
  • develop greater autonomy as a learner
  • achieve better grades in your assignments

In order to do this, the course focuses on improving your critical thinking, research, referencing, note taking and academic writing skills, to build your academic confidence.

The activities in this course are designed to engage you in specific learning. You will have opportunities to reflect on your learning and to engage with other students through discussion boards and blogs. This is a very interactive course and the more you engage with other learners, the more you will learn.

To participate in this course you must either be a current University of Northampton student enrolled on an undergraduate course or an applicant for an undergraduate course and have selected the University of Northampton as your firm choice institution.

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