Amplifying Student Voice in Learning and School Life

The last Northants BLT Development Day of the school year takes place on Tuesday 21st May at Bridgewater Primary. The theme of the event centres around ‘student voice’ and how we might use digital tools, creative processes and techniques to increase the ownership and impact of pupils on their own learning and school communities.

The overview of the day is below and you can still sign up for the event at

09:15 – Arrival

09:30 – Amplifying Student Voice in Learning and School Life

Principles and parameters of student voice in schools with practical examples from around the world.

10:00 – Tools for Participation

Hands-on exploration and evaluation of digital tools for encouraging, facilitating and capturing student participation.

11:00 – Coffee

11:15 – School Councils and Digital Leaders – Problem Finders and Solvers

Sharing ideas, approaches and experiences – including short presentations from digital leaders in local schools. Collaborating to create a BLT Problem Finders toolkit for schools.

12.30 – Lunch – (Bring your own!)

13:15 – Creative Processes to Equip Students for Impact

Exploring a range of hands-on creative processes and techniques that students and teachers can put to immediate use back in school to identify and come up with innovative ways of tackling problems that are worth solving.

14:45 – Launch of the $100 Challenge

A collaborative opportunity for school councils and digital leaders in Northants BLT schools and in Texas, USA to use their creativity to make a positive impact on their school communities.

15:00 – Finish

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Formative Assessment and BLT

Today’s BLT Development Day focused on exploring tools and techniques that help to capture and make learning visible. In normal BLT fashion the whole group shared their top tips.

On questioning:

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Virtual London Trip – BLT Awards

If you’re learning all about London, the obvious thing to do is visit all the landmarks…only that wasn’t really practical for us, so we decided to make our trip a virtual one. Lots of green paper, a £1.99 app (Green Screen Movie FX Studio) and an iPad was all we needed. No one got lost and we saw every London landmark without anyone getting tired legs!

Flotsam-coverAndrew Evans, Year 1 teacher at Kingswood Primary, has submitted his year 1’s ‘Virtual London Trip’ video to the Northants BLT Awards 2013 in the BLT Innovation category. Watch the lovely tour guides below!

Thanks for sharing! A token of sharing appreciation is on its way to Mr Evans and his Squirrels ;-)

VirtualLondonTrip from Kingswood Primary School on Vimeo.

  • School Website –
  • School Blogs –
  • Mr Evans’ Year 1 class blog –
  • Andrew Evans (@acevansIT) on twitter –
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Beauty and the Beast SFX – BLT Awards

Building up to a whole school Christmas production of Beauty and the Beast, all of our Y4’s were to sing, some of our Y4 children were required for a dance and I wanted the rest to feel they had contributed in a special way. I decided we would use Audacity, a few free SFX off the web and SFX of our own making to make a spooky atmospheric backdrop to Belle’s father coming through the forest and finding himself at the Beast’s castle.

retrosweetsPeter Scurr, Music and ICT Coordinator at Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary, has submitted his year 4’s ‘Beauty and the Beast SFX’ recording to the Northants BLT Awards 2013 in the BLT Audio category. Listen to the evocative recording below.

Beauty and the Beast SFX


Thanks for sharing! Another totally unhealthy token of sharing appreciation is on its way to Mr Scurr ;-)

  • School Website –
  • Peter Scurr’s Blog –
  • Peter Scurr on Twitter –
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Our School Life Online – BLT Awards

Our School Life Online. Every class has an iPod touch and every member of staff in the school is responsible for updating the blog. The blog has had over 15000 views in 12 months and has been seen in New Zealand, Australia, USA and many more! We have started another blog with new Pen Pals in New Zealand who found our blog online!

retrosweetsAnthony Witheyman, head at Weedon Bec Primary, has submitted his school’s blog site to the Northants BLT Awards 2013 in the BLT Blogging category. Delightful multimedia insights into school life can be explored at

Thanks for sharing! A totally unhealthy token of sharing appreciation is on its way to Mr Witheyman. Hopefully he’ll feel the urge to share ;-)


  • School Website –
  • School Blog –
  • School on Twitter –
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Dull and Boring … Just Got Exciting!

Imagine five schools where every trace of learning fun had disappeared over the Christmas holidays. Every pupils and teacher within the Northampton Primary Academy Trust (NPAT) was immersed in that #dullandboring reality at the beginning of this term.

Two villains, Dull and Boring, had taken over Abington Vale, Lings, Ecton Brook, Headlands  and Weston Favell schools, removing every aspect of fun and excitement from those learning environments. Libraries, computers of any variety – in suite, trolley or classroom – had been cordoned off and banned from use. Websites and blogs were censored. The playground were out of bounds and all displays covered or removed altogether. Art resources were forbidden. Children were seated strictly in formal rows.

The curriculum did not fare much better with all peripatetic provision and visits cancelled. Children were served a Dull-and-Boring-prescribed diet of such as 200 word spelling tests, and essay writing covering subjects as thrilling as ‘The Merits of Watching Paint Dry.’ There was little anyone could do but comply with Dull and Boring’s demands.

This dramatic scenario was crafted well in advance by the five schools and staff collaborated to execute the elaborate narrative, immersing themselves in their roles as victims of Dull and Boring. It was this immersion that allowed the storyline to be experienced as authentic and purposeful.

The aim of the project was to heighten mutual awareness of pupils in the other schools in the Multi-Academy Trust, providing an impetus for collaboration and sharing. It would prove an effective springboard into learning together in the future. It would also provide children with a comparative framework for articulating what they consider to be fun and effective learning.

And collaborate they did! A series of emergency assemblies, secret meetings and a summit of representatives brought together on the afternoon of Day One began to explore ways of wrestling control of their schools from Dull and Boring. Pupils were to use the ‘facade’ of a very grey, dull and boring blog to collect ideas and shared experiences across the team. This would have to happen at home and the password for accessing the information would have to be spread by word-of-mouth. The representative summit was skillfully ’tilted’ towards the creation of superheroes as a potential antidote to Dull and Boring.

Barely six hours later the underground blog had been hit 7684 times with 892 comments left, expressing exasperation and anger at Dull and Boring’s audacity, along with a shed load of ideas how to put them in their rightful place. By the end of the week this would have increased to 20000 hits and 1900 comments.

The rest of the week was spent planning, plotting, innovating, creating and sharing. Classes used Skype across schools, checking out experiences and sharing ideas, and gathering evidence for the ‘Man from the Ministry’ who had spent a career tracking Dull and Boring. The resistance became bolder and more confident by the hour. The dull and boring blog began to slowly fill with colour and every fun idea or exciting activity shared made a visible difference to the ‘victory-meter’ on the site. Perhaps through collaboration these five schools would succeed in defeating Dull and Boring when so many had  failed in the past.

There were more twists and turns – headteachers went missing for two days in a last desperate attempt by Dull and Boring to grasp on to power. In final epic battle – a celebration day of fun learning planned by the children themselves – the nemesis of fun and effective learning was finally defeated by … fun and effective learners and teachers. Victory for pupils and teachers meant renewed ownership of their own destiny that had been enriched with an empathy for the learning plight of their ‘comrades’ across other sites. The immersive insight into a much more dull and boring approach to school makes that hard-fought victory seem all the more worthwhile.

The NPAT schools are helping to build the Northants BLT and will be happy to share further insights into this project. Why not leave then a question in the comments?


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BLT Awards 2013

Awards LogoThe Northants BLT Awards 2013 launched softly at the beginning of term. Designed to share and celebrate the exciting stories of great learning and teaching across our grassroots network, the BLT Awards will culminate in an awards event in July. In the meantime, all submitted entries in the 12 categories will be published in some form to inspire colleagues and spark off further learning ideas and entries.

Visit the BLT Awards website to find out more. An information pack is also available for download. Feel free to share will all colleagues in Northamptonshire.

In recognition of the importance of the sharing principles we are hoping to reward entrants with BLT tokens of appreciation. What are these tokens? They will be ever changing and mysterious … Think underwhelming and you might be surprised ;-)

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Festive BLT Meet

It’s nearly Christmas. Time for some last-minute BLT sharing.

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BLT Meet – 23rd October 2012

Simon de Senlis Primary School hosted the first BLT Meet of the 2012-2013 season. With 75 educators signed up it promised to be a busy and productive session. The school hall was packed, the atmosphere was lively and the inspiring ideas flowed. Volunteers told their authentic stories of learning over two- or seven-minutes. The #NorthantsBLT twitter back-channel was busy with encouraging comment from within the room and beyond. The sharing tone had already been set with twenty ideas already being shared in the days leading up to the BLT Meet in the pre-meet forum.

The whole room also engaged in some NoTosh design-thinking, rapidly ideating around the question ‘How might we make learning better for our students?’ The raw ideas generated in less than 10 minutes are presented below. Some are beautifully ‘crazy’, some mention technologies. However, the overall impression shining through, is of a group of professionals with a passion for doing what it takes to make learning better. This bodes very well for the collaborative future of Northants BLT network.

The next scheduled Northants BLT event is a Development Day with on 20th November – ‘Visible Learning, Visible Teaching and BLT‘ with NoTosh’s Ewan McIntosh and Peter Ford. Sign up here!

Some useful links:


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