Thursday, 24 August 2017

Why study Architecture?

Name: Peter Oboko 
Course: Architecture student at London South Bank University (LSBU)

Alongside his studies, Peter has started his own specialist printing business for architecture students with the support of LSBU's Enterprise Team.

Why did you choose to study architecture?

I have always been fascinated with the mechanics of a building; how it has been put together, the thoughts and inspiration behind it, and how certain materials are formed and shaped to fit the building. Virtually all of the paintings and artwork I completed in school and college reflect the obsession I have with buildings. I also wrote various essays about the futurists, vorticism and other movements that embodied architecture. I see some buildings as a signature left by the architect for the whole world to see. Even the smallest of structures makes a difference to the surrounding area.

What made you want to study in London?

To study in London is to experience the world in one city. With a diverse multicultural atmosphere, London is unbeatable when it comes to full immersion in a variety of cultures. From my youth until now, I am still finding little gems in London, whether it be a hidden coffee shop in the back of Soho or a private gallery somewhere in Shoreditch. No matter what you're studying there is always some place or something you can do to enhance your experience.

What is the best thing about being a student?

The best thing for me is the learning environment. Not only do you have an opportunity to learn something that you have chosen, you can also make lifetime friends and partners with your fellow students. Being a student is a chance for you to learn about yourself, make mistakes, get up, make more mistakes, get up and win.


Why did you decide to start a business as a student?

Like most businesses, my idea was born from a need. I’m an architecture student and we spend a lot of money on printing. To save costs for myself I decided to use what little resources I had to buy a good printer of my own. After getting a lot of queries from fellow students about who it was that I used to print my work and how much I was paying, I realised I might be able to turn this into a business, providing a printing service tailored to the specific needs of architecture students and practices. It’s now fully established, and with the support of LSBU's Enterprise Team, it really seems to be going from strength to strength.


If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring or future student, what would it be?

Don't be afraid to be yourself and engage with your fellow students on your course and outside of your course, you can meet some really great people.


This case study was provided by London South Bank University and is published with kind permission.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

How to support children with SEND in the mainstream classroom - Cherryl Drabble

There have been many changes to education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the last few years. The 2014 ‘The Children and Families Act’ brought a clear expectation that most pupils with SEND would be taught in a mainstream school, and that every teacher is a teacher of SEND. This is all rather daunting for new teachers and NQTs.

As a trainee teacher or NQT, you will be aware there is very little training out there to prepare you for the challenges you face in the classroom. I suggest you read around these five main areas of special challenges that you are likely to find in your classroom:

1. Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC)
The first thing to remember is that no two children with special needs are alike. They may share the same label or diagnosis but they may present themselves and behave very differently in the classroom. For example, Autism, including Asperger’s syndrome is a huge spectrum and you may find that you have children displaying all manner of signs and symptoms. Some will have communication difficulties, some will have acute social anxiety and some may have behaviour challenges. These children can be anywhere on that spectrum from mild to severe.

2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Similarly, children diagnosed with ADHD will display different signs and symptoms. Not every child will display all the signs all of the time. The main challenges seen include difficulty waiting their turn, wanting everything their own way, no sense of danger, emotionally incontinent, impulsive and restless and a lack of focus.

3. Dyslexia
There are many children diagnosed with Dyslexia within our mainstream classes and it is important to understand how to teach children with this diagnosis. Be aware that some children are wrongly diagnosed with Dyslexia as it is actually a language based disorder rather than a visual difficulty. Once you are clear on that fact you will see that signs and symptoms include delayed speech development, difficulty expressing themselves writing, difficulty sequencing instructions and difficulty with organizational skills.

4. Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (LDD)
Learning Difficulties and Disabilities is an umbrella term for any learning or emotional problem that affects a child’s ability to learn in the same way and at a similar rate to their peers. Some common types of LDD include Dyscalculia, Dysphasia, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and delayed development. Of course, it is possible that that ADHD and ASC may co-occur under this heading. Some children will be mildly affected and others will need much support. The terms Moderate Learning Disability (MLD), Severe Learning Disability (SLD) and Profound and Multiple Learning Disability (PMLD) are also used interchangeably with LDD although all these conditions are very different.

5. Behaviour challenges
That brings us to behaviour challenges. Children who display severe challenging behaviours in mainstream classrooms will generally have an underlying cause for this. All children will try to push the boundaries at some point but these are children who regularly disrupt lessons and may be violent. Try to remember that all behaviour is a form of communication. What is the child trying to tell you? If you can work that out you will be able to help the child.

My advice

Inclusion is the main aim for all of these children. As a teacher, it is your job to work out how to include these children in all lessons and activities. My advice is to ignore the label and to look at the child in front of you. Think about how you can help them. Remember, every teacher is a teacher of special needs and you must not hand them over to a Teaching Assistant.

My top tips would be to make it visual. Many children with SEND are visual learners often due to lack of verbal communication. Provide visual instructions and give plenty of time for the child to process what they have been asked to do. Think about communication methods. Give the child a way to let you know if they don’t understand as this will make many behaviour problems magically disappear. Create a SEND friendly classroom. This might include plain walls, fewer bright colours, less clutter, easy access, calm environment and a place to go to if feeling stressed. Remember that a classroom fit for a child with SEND is a classroom that is good for all children.

Above all else have fun! These children will stretch and challenge you but they will also bring you great rewards when they master something you never thought they would. Cherish those wow moments and learn from every single child.


Cherryl Drabble is an assistant headteacher at an outstanding school in Blackpool, and has 14 years' experience in teaching children with special educational needs. An ITT and NQT mentor, she has an MA in Inclusion/SEN and nine years' experience as a Senior Leader responsible for CPD. Cherryl is a successful blogger, and is the author of Bloomsbury CPD Library: Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Bloomsbury Education). Follow her on Twitter @cherrylkd

If you liked this…

It’s one of a series of blogs to help make your introduction to teacher training a little easier. Get up-to-speed with some of the topics you’re likely to encounter in your training:

Five ways to ensure a successful ITT year

Common myths about the brain and learning

There’s more to assessment than meets the eye

Getting behaviour right from the start

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Specialist careers advisors ready to help families on GCSE results day

Teens and their parents waiting for GCSE exam results on Thursday (Aug 24, 2017) are being urged not to panic as the UK’s only specialist ‘pop-up’ exam helpline for students is open for them first

thing on the morning of results day.

The Exam Results Helpline (0808 100 8000) is a specially-formed team of expert UK careers advisors who come together at the UCAS head office in Cheltenham once a year for the sole purpose of helping young people who receive unexpected exam results.

Created nearly three decades ago and funded by the Department for Education, the helpline provides impartial advice to anyone who receives GCSE results and wants to talk through their options.

The helpline is open on Thursday morning from 7.30am and remains open until Thursday August 31st. Full timetable can be found here.

On average, a quarter of the calls placed to the helpline come from parents asking the all-important questions about next steps.

Nick Hynes, a careers adviser who has worked for the service for more than 25 years said: “We are here for everyone who has questions but, in particular, for those people who want to find out all of the options available to them as well as sixth form.

“There are so many choices now and apprenticeships are growing in popularity as well as professional options and going to local colleges.

“Often it’s parents who want to help their children – this is an incredibly stressful time for some young people and it’s really important they don’t panic and call us as soon as they need to and we can work things out together.”

The Exam Results Helpline has already helped thousands of students since A Level Results day both on the phone as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Advisers have been talking to callers about re-sits and retakes, gap years, Clearing, Adjustment, apprenticeships, funding and student accommodation.

The helpline number is 0808 100 8000 or find the Exam Results Helpline on Twitter or Facebook.

Further information including opening hours can be found here.

Top 5 tips for parents to help their young teenager through this testing time

In preparation for results day, Exam Results Helpline careers adviser Nick Hynes gives his top 5 tips for parents on how they can help their teenagers:

  1. Don’t panic – do reassure: We take calls from students who are panicking that they haven’t got the results they need and the first thing we tell them is to try to stay calm. This goes for parents too! Try to remain positive, whatever the results. Your child may need reassurance from you that everything will work out and it will all be OK
  2. Don’t get ‘FOMO’ (Fear of Missing Out) and rush into anything: There is no need to make quick decisions. Give your child time to reassess and have a good think about what they want to do before they start making the next steps into their future education outcomes
  3. Know the options: Your child is legally bound to stay in full-time education or training until they are 18. Their three main options are: 6th Form; College; and Apprenticeships. With thousands of courses on offer, there will be something to fit your youngster’s personal tastes
  4. Think local: There will be variations in your local environment so take some time to speak with local colleges and see what apprenticeships are available in your area through 
  5. Pick up the phone: If you want to find out more information, clarity, support or advice don’t forget that the Exam Results Helpline is here to help parents as well as the students themselves so give us a call on 0808 100 8000 or Twitter @ERHelp or Facebook

Thinking about postgraduate study?

According to the latest Graduate Careers Survey, an increasing number of 2017 graduates are intending to continue into postgraduate education rather than look for graduate employment. The survey of over 21,000 students shows that the number intending to remain at university to do a postgraduate course has risen to 26% - the first increase in postgraduate applications in over seven years. 

Why study postgraduate?

You may be one of the many students considering postgraduate study to help you stand out to potential employers. It’s a big commitment to undertake, but you can make your life easier by being smart with your money. Postgraduate study needn’t break the bank – read our blog about how to plan your finances.

How do you find the right course?

You may already have a clear idea about what and where you want to study, but if you’re still exploring your options, it’s important to do your research. If you need some inspiration, get an insight into a range of different sectors, the qualifications you can study, entry requirements, and employment prospects with our postgraduate subject guides.

In addition to specific subject requirements, a university will be looking for a number of things from you regardless of your chosen area of study, such as:

  • strong evidence of an interest in the subject you want to study
  • a realistic expectation of what can be achieved from your studies
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a team

Before you commit, check you’re ready for the level of study a postgraduate qualification requires. You can research the entry requirements for thousands of postgraduate courses using the UCAS Postgraduate search tool.

Interested in finding out more about your postgraduate options?

Sign-up to receive your free postgraduate information pack – an online step-by-step guide to applying for postgraduate courses. In addition, we’ll keep you up-to-date on all things postgrad with our three-month course of emails to help you through the process.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Get your free MenACWY vaccine before going to university.

All set for uni? You’ve got your books, somewhere to live and even booked tickets for all the fresher events.

But forgetting one thing could put your life at risk – so get your free MenACWY vaccine from your GP before starting uni.

The MenACWY vaccine is the best way to protect you from four kinds of meningococcal disease - the main cause of meningitis and septicaemia. The Men A, C, W and Y strains are a serious and can kill.

Those in their late teens, particularly new uni students, are at higher risk of meningococcal disease. You should get vaccinated at least two weeks before you start uni so you have protection before you go.

If you can’t get vaccinated before starting uni, get the vaccine as soon as you arrive.

More than two million people have been vaccinated and we have shown that the vaccine works.

University freshers under 25 should have the free jab, along with anyone born on or after 1 September 1996 (if you’ve not already been vaccinated).

So what are you waiting for? Make an appointment with your GP now and get the MenACWY vaccine. It will help you make the most out of your university experience and it might save your life.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Don't get FOMO on results day! Call the Exam Results Helpline

Don’t get ‘FOMO’ on exam results day! Panic buying because you think you’ll miss out is not the solution to your problems. Here our advisor Annie Dobson helps bring some perspective to what can be a worrying time for everyone.

Exam results day are stressful for most people – so you don’t have to do this alone

Take someone with you, preferably parents or carers, and if you can, get them to drive so that you have one thing less to worry about.

It's good to have people you care about to celebrate with, but it's also important to have them there if your results are not what you had hoped for. If things have not gone to plan, take a moment to let it sink in.

Talk to your support, be it your parents or carers or your teachers and listen to them, they can be the voice of reason. It's important not to panic, and not to panic buy when you start to look at clearing options.

Take your time, and remember, you can take a year to take stock, re-sit if necessary, get some work experience and transferable skills and re-apply for next year.

This really is all about you!

It's important to focus on you. There are not many times in life when you shouldn’t have to think about others, but make sure you blank out what your peers and friends are or are not doing. Don't rush into anything for fear of missing out, remember it's your future and no-one else's so make sure it's right for you.

There is the chance that you won't get the course of your choice through clearing and it's better, in this case that you look at the alternatives, rather than rush onto a course simply to say you are at university.

Plan. Creating a plan for the day, and the days leading up to it can really help.  

Take a look at alternatives, in case things don’t go to plan.  This could be a list of clearing possibilities or alternatives such as Foundation Degrees, HNDs and HNCs as well as employment and apprenticeships.

On the day, check your status on Track to see if you have been accepted into your firm or insurance choice.  Track opens at 8am, however, it will not tell you your grades and you will need to find out from Sixth Form or College about how you will receive your results.

Eat something in the morning – preferably after you’ve had a good sleep!

When you do go to collect your results, make sure you go prepared and that means physically also. Try and get a good night’s sleep and then get up and have a decent breakfast. You don't want to be wobbly if you have to spend time there trying to sort our university or accommodation, and you certainly don't want to be celebrating on an empty tummy!

Make sure you top up in case things bottom out

Take a fully charged and topped up mobile with you in case you need to contact your university or to contact others through clearing. Take your universities contact details as well as any you thought about clearing options just in case you want to consider adjustment, things don't go to plan, or you have simply changed your mind.

Take a note of the Exam Results Helpline 0808 100 8000 - there are experienced advisers on hand to help you.

Ben Fogle: Haven't got the grades you hoped for? Be positive!

I will never forget the day I finished my final A level exam. FREEDOM. The summer that followed was one of the happiest times of my life. No worries. No revision. No pressure. But all good things come to an end, and before the summer was up it was results day. I still get just a little bit sick thinking about it. It was many years ago now but in many ways, it feels like yesterday. It's like a slow-motion rollercoaster. There is nothing you can do to alter or change those results.

So much pressure is placed on those few results. I can remember thinking that my whole life could be made or broken by them. University and thence my career both relied on them. I remember opening the envelope. Heart pounding as my eyes settled on the marks. I could see a D and an N. N? What was that? I had failed.

My stomach churned and I was overcome with a wave of hopelessness. I was alone at home with only my dogs for company. I tried to rationalise the situation but to be honest it felt hopeless. I was a failure.

I fell into a bit of a rut. I was enveloped in waves of depression. All my friends had got their grades and their university places. I had neither.

My parents were surprisingly unperturbed. They shrugged their shoulders and together we looked at options. Retakes. Gap year. Clearing.

It's a long story but I found a job to earn enough money and took off for a year to South America, where I learnt fluent Spanish. One year became two and by the time I returned, I persuaded a university to accept me on a degree in Latin American studies.

It's strange, the many twists and turns our lives take, and A level results are important but by no means vital.

My advice to you, if you haven't got the grades you hoped for, is to be positive. There is always another way. There is always an alternative. Don't cave in to the little negative devil on your shoulder. Blow the clouds of despair away and look for the sunlight beyond.

And if in doubt, remember my tale. I failed my exams and I haven't done so badly.

About Student Minds

Starting university can be a wonderful and exciting experience, but it can also bring its own unique challenges. It's natural to feel nervous or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at university, and it can be a while before you feel like you’ve found your feet. Student Minds works to transform the state of student mental health so that all in Higher Education can thrive, including you!

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. We empower students and members of the university community to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health, support others and create change. We train students and staff in universities across the UK to deliver student-led peer support interventions as well as research-driven campaigns and workshops. By working collaboratively across sectors, we share best practice and ensure that the student voice influences decisions about student mental health.

It is common to worry about moving to university, it is key to remember that you won't be the only one feeling this way. Read about other students’ experiences of starting university and what they wish they had known when they started. Find tips for students, written by students on the Student Minds Blog.

Before moving to university it is helpful to find out what support is available on your campus:

  • Disclose any pre-existing mental health difficulties to your university so they can support
  • Register for a doctor in your new city
  • Find out about your university counselling services and what support they offer
  • Read our Look After Your Mate guide to find out how you can support your peers
  • Check out our further support page
  • More tips on making friends, dealing with homesick, settling in, preparing for university and looking after yourself are available here.
Find out how you can get involved with Student Minds on your campus! There are a variety of ways to get involved as a student including: setting up or joining a group at your university, blogging, campaigning or fundraising.

“I found getting involved with Student Minds a big step in my mental health journey, I only wish I had known about their amazing resources when I was in my first year and not my last. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the charity.” - Student Minds Volunteer

Two things that help smash through social anxiety at uni

Not everyone is born confident. Moving away from home is a part of life that most people will encounter. Some university students may find the move an exciting and fresh start, whereasothers may see the experience as a terrifying proposition. If you find yourself in the latter camp, I'm here to tell you that this overwhelming feeling is perfectly normal.

It's difficult moving to a new environment, with new faces and a new daily routine, especially if you’re the only one out of your friends attending the university. I'm currently in this situation, and it does not help knowing I will have to adjust myself to whatever situation I will find myself in when I move to Lincoln.

Living with social anxiety can exacerbate the nerves already surrounding starting uni. In my case, I find it difficult being left in a shopping aisle alone when my mother ‘ditches’ me to get some veg from an aisle on the other side of the store. Other days, I find it difficult to make phone calls to people I am unfamiliar with, or to answer the door to receive a parcel from the postman.

Slowly, however, I've been teaching myself to take control of my anxiety in everyday situations by introducing two techniques that have helped massively with my social anxiety.

My fellow social anxiety sufferers, music is a powerful gift to all of us. Especially if you are able to find an artist who is able to relate to how you are feeling.

I have found that even going shopping alone or with someone who decides to leave you, putting your headphones on diverts the attention to the lyrics of the song. It's a simple technique, but in many cases very effective.

It doesn't have to be running. Going to the gym or working out with friends can help you get outside your comfort zone too. Balancing the body will help to balance the mind. The more you place yourself in these situations, the more you will begin to get used to social situations.

I personally do not go to the gym. Instead, I go running around my block, or in the park. This helps me get confident in the environment I live in, as well as pushing myself to go past people, instead of avoiding them. Working out with music can help increase the confidence you have in yourself, as well as contributing to not thinking twice about approaching people in your classes.

I can't say these techniques will work for every social anxiety sufferer, but it has been said that music and fitness help to increase one’s mood and confidence. I, for one, can support this notion, as it has made me feel more in control in situations that involve other people.

University is a whole new chapter that should be seen with bright eyes. You can't think negatively about the what ifs. This is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and start afresh. You are who you want to be. Our social anxieties will always be in the back of our minds, but remember that you are in control of your body and mind. Make that a motto and accomplish what you set out to do!

For more advice from students, join the student community at Campus Society.

How to manage life in a student house

Viewing, packing, moving in, and decorating sounds like the most exhilarating thing, right? You're either prepared to start a new chapter of your life, or all hyped up for your second or third freshers, and hanging out with your mates all over again. It's such an exciting time of the year, but it's worth taking a minute to consider how you're going to manage your independence over the next year.

Those bills don't solve themselves
Unfortunate but true – the money involved in the rent isn't the only money you'll need to fork out. By keeping track of what you each owe per week or per month, it'll be so much easier when it comes to paying your letting agents. Keep emergency numbers, previous payments, and any necessary details together, somewhere all housemates can access. If someone has to file through every bit of discarded paper on top of the fridge to find out who to contact, or can't find necessary numbers because they're locked in Jonny's room, it can be a nightmare.

Force yourself to love cleaning
From experience, telling yourself everything will be OK for another week is a recipe for disaster. Get a grip and get your hands dirty! The more disgusting it gets, the less you'll want to clean, so start while it's acceptable and keep it constant. Don't let your lazy flatmates get away with it as everyone has to be held accountable – especially if you're facing potential fines or don't want your landlord to hate you if you ask for a lease renewal later.

Bin duty
Don't be that person who forces food into a bin that's already struggling – if everyone adopts this habit, it'll never get sorted out. If you see a full bin, accept your fate, sort it out, and hope others follow suit, either out of guilt or genuine responsibility. Recycle when you can, whether it's because you're passionate or it's trendy to be environmentally conscious. Your local council is apparently amazing at advising students on new living, so get in touch with any questions, even if they're minor.

Realising even food can be an issue
It's so hard to work out how much or little food you need, especially when you might have nights where you cook as a group, get a takeaway, or eat out. Piling things up that won't get used in time is what makes student areas look so grim on rubbish collection days, and the amount of food waste is a seagull's dream. If you're a terror for over-buying, simply cook it all up and freeze it, so you don't have to throw it too soon.

The most important – living money
It goes without saying, but also needs to be said – do not spend money on anything that will harm you when it's time for rent and bills. Unless you're positive you'll have the funds, you do not need to go on an unnecessary night out. If you're struggling, remember that it's much better to have a week cleaning out the back of the food cupboards than it is to get constant calls from your letting agent, asking why you're not giving them the agreed money. It'll harm your friendship with your flatmates if they get fined or punished too!

For more advice from students, join the student community at Campus Society.

Six habits that encourage good mental health at uni

1. Exercise
30 minutes of daily exercise is recommended. As exercising releases endorphins, it’s great for your mood and your overall wellbeing, plus it's a welcome break from sitting in lectures and seminars.

2. Drink water
Water is essential for good mental health. It can be easy to forget to drink water when you’re wrapped up in essay stress, but regularly drinking glasses of water improves concentration and decreases your stress levels by thoroughly hydrating you. Each time you sit down at your desk, make sure you have a glass of water to hand.

3. Sufficient sleep
Late night library sessions and TV series binging take their toll. When you’re overly tired, your concentration levels crash. It is important to regulate your sleep pattern – try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and to sleep and wake at the same time each day.

4. Break down your work
Do you have a difficult essay to write, a heavy text to analyse before your seminar, or some revision for a tricky exam? You can often feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start.

Try sitting down at your desk each Sunday afternoon to plan out what you aim to complete each day of the following week. This will help you feel organised and calmer about your workload. If you want to talk to someone about how to manage your time, or just for general guidance, look for a study advice team at your library, or speak to the study community on campus.

5. Socialise
Meeting up with a close friend at least once a day can boost your mood. Make time for the people who make you feel happy, and you know you can have a laugh with, even if it’s just for an hour.

6. Get outside
In exam season, students tend to stay in their rooms immersed in revision, so schedule half an hour each day for getting outside and breathing fresh air. It will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to get back to your desk for round two!

Plants and flowers have been proven to help maintain good mental health by reducing stress and creating a calmer environment. For these reasons, I’d suggest also bringing nature into your room. Find some cheap house plants – they're easy to look after, as they don't require watering that often!

For more advice from students, join the student community at Campus Society.

How to decorate your room on a student budget

Summer is well and truly upon us. For some of you, the preparation for moving into your new house for second or third year might be underway. For others, you might be looking at your bedrooms at home, wondering what’s going to make the cut and come with you to your halls of residence in September.

Either way, both privately rented accommodation and university halls are not exactly stylish. Yes, this can mean when you open your bedroom door, you will find a dull, empty room. It also means you have a blank canvas to make your own (well, you know, within the guidelines of the contract).

You might think decorating a bedroom on a student budget is impossible, but it’s not. Here are some tips, advice, and suggestions to help you make the most of your new space while saving as much money as possible.

1. Fairy lights
Fairy lights are your go-to. They’re homely, cosy, and great for evenings when you want to snuggle up and watch a movie. They’re also cheap.

You can pick these up anywhere on the high street, and if you have no luck there, you can easily find some online.

2. Desk
Don’t use your desk as a place for dirty plates, rubbish, and disregarded work. Use it to put things such as picture frames, a small mirror, trinkets, or a jewellery stand on. Not only will this show off some personality and brighten up the empty space, it will also give you a nice, clean environment to work in.

Go to the local charity shops and you can easily find items such as trinket dishes and picture frames, all for super cheap prices. You’ll also feel good knowing you have contributed to a good cause.

3. Plants
You might not be that into horticulture, but you can’t go wrong with bringing a little nature inside. Plants have an uncanny ability to bring the dullest rooms to life. They also clear the air in your room, which is a nice thought after you've spent half a week in bed binge-watching your favourite series.
Some low-maintenance plants include a money tree, cacti and succulents, aloe vera, ferns, and a snake plant. You can get these at local markets, home DIY shops or garden centres, or one of the independent shops in and around town.

4. Soft furnishings
A couple of pillows and a blanket will make a huge difference to the cosiness of your room, and they don’t have to be expensive. You can pick things like this up from the market or in large chain stores for just a few pounds. They will add colour and texture to your new bedroom, while making it feel homely and snug.

You don’t have to spend lots of money to create your home-away-from-home. With a little imagination, you can make your room just how you want it, and still have money left for a takeaway pizza. Good luck!

For more advice from students, join the student community at Campus Society.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Exam Results Helpline prepares for thousands of calls on A Levels results day

Advisors at the Exam Results Helpline are preparing for the busiest day of the exam results season on Thursday (Aug 17, 2017) as students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A Level results.

More than 40 advisors will be on hand for the expected influx of thousands of learners who receive unexpected results and need support and guidance on what to do next.

The Exam Results Helpline, which is funded by the Department for Education and run through UCAS, has been helping students for more than a quarter of a century. Last year, advisors answered more than 7,500 calls over the two weeks it was open for A Levels and GCSE students.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: “The Exam Results Helpline provides a vital service for all students, no matter the outcome on results day.

“Whether you have received an unexpected result or want to make sure you’ve considered all the options, there will be an expert available to offer support and guidance on your next step. 

“That could be university, a foundation degree, a high-quality apprenticeship, a gap year or something entirely different. So, if you have any questions please do give them a call.”

One of the callers from 2016 was Kevin Bediouhoune, now aged 19, who had not done as well as he hoped in his A Levels.

Kevin got an ‘E’ in A Level Biology, a ‘D’ in A Level English Literature, a ‘C’ in AS Level Chemistry and a ‘C’ in AS Level English Language.

His grades meant Kevin, who was born in Cameroon but lived in Leeds from the age of five, missed his first choice of the Liverpool John Moores University. His second choice, the University of Central Lancaster, no longer appealed to him.

Kevin,19, called the Exam Results Helpline because he wanted to know if turning down the offer from Central Lancaster would have any consequences for him, because he still wanted to attend university.

He said: “When I got my results I knew myself I could have done better. Sadly, my grandma had died during my study period and it had affected my whole process.

“I was gutted, because when you do sciences at A Level they’re the hardest ones you can do. There were so many exams and so much hard work.

“The Exam Results Helpline told me I just needed to call Lancaster to let them know. After that they said there were still lots of universities still looking for students to fill spaces and there was still a lot I could do.”

After ringing a number of universities Kevin was invited in to see the University of Hull, where he is now studying Biomedical Science.

Kevin added: “You can’t let it get you down. At the end of the day you can still go to university.

“You may think everything is shut - but there’s always another door open to you.”

Students can call the helpline number on 0808 100 8000 and also get help through the Exam Results Helpline’s dedicated Twitter and Facebook accounts.

A full timetable of opening hours for the helpline can be found here

10 essentials you don't realise you need to bring to uni

There are some things you obviously need to take to uni – like clothes, shoes, and bedding – but here are ten things that might not seem so important, but, from experience, are essential.

Posters, pictures, and wall hangings
It might not seem like much of an 'essential', but trust me, it is. When you move into your room and look at the stacks of boxes and blank white walls, it's easy to get homesick. You don't want to feel like you're living in a hotel room for a year. Take posters and things to put on your walls. It's also a very good idea to take pictures of you with your friends and family, as most halls will have a corkboard where you can pin them up.

Take a good wok with you. This is a durable piece of kit that's great for a multitude of one-pot meals, perfect for cooking for one person, batch cooking, and all those endless stir fry meals you'll be making.

Dressing gown
The humble dressing gown. Hidden in its soft, cosy goodness is a variety of purposes. Fire alarm going off at 04:00? Chuck it on before you get outside. Cold but don't want to turn the heating up? On it goes. Walking back from the shared bathroom to your room after a shower? The dressing gown strikes again. Feeling sad? Yep, it'll fix even that.

First aid kit and medicines
This might make me look like a neurotic parent, but honestly, you will need plasters (and blister plasters), paracetamol, ibuprofen, and cough medicine.

The plasters are for the inevitable time when you accidentally cut yourself when chopping vegetables, or think you can wear those six inch heels all night. The painkillers and cough medicine should always be kept in close reach so that when you wake up with horrendous freshers’ flu, you will be able to survive without making your flatmate go out on a pharmacy run. Another cheeky tip is to keep little sachets of rehydration salts handy – they can be lifesavers.

Extension lead
Uni halls have a habit of having only one or two plug sockets, in ridiculous locations. If you want to plug in your laptop and phone at the same time, and have them within easy reach of your bed (as we all know, this is a necessity), take an extension lead with you.

A doorstop
The doorstop is a magical thing. It should be renamed the 'friendmaker'. It is much harder to make friends with your new flatmates when your door is constantly closed.

Even if you're just chilling in your room, keeping the door propped open will say ‘You're welcome to come in and chat!’. It also means that if you do want some privacy, just by closing your door, people will probably get the hint and leave you be.

Just make sure you don't prop open any of the big fire doors that will probably be between corridors and kitchens, as this is a real fire hazard.

Mattress topper
If you have one spare or can afford to shell out for one, a mattress topper is a nice luxury addition. The beds in uni halls are usually rather uncomfortable. When I saw mine, my heart sunk. The springs stuck into my ribs, and it was actually a fold-up camping bed. I was so relieved that I took a comfy mattress topper.

Playing cards
Another great thing to help you get along with your flatmates, and find something to do in the first few awkward evenings. You could also bring some board games.

One fancy dress item, or face paint
If you like to go out or go to parties, this one will come in handy. I bought some face paint in my first year and used it many times. Many freshers’ events have themes, and you don't want to be that stick-in-the-mud who turns up in ordinary clothes. If you join a sports club, they will likely have weekly socials that involve fancy dress too.

Earplugs, decent headphones, or both
If you want to be able to sleep well on any given night, bring earplugs. You might not have awful, inconsiderate flatmates, but sometimes people might be heading out when you just fancy a night in. If you can fall asleep to music, some good headphones or earphones are a great thing to pack.

For more advice from students, join the student community at Campus Society.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Mind the gap! How to make yourself even more employable by taking a year out

As we run up to A Level results day on August 17 many students will be looking at the option of deferring and/or taking a gap year.

Exam Results Helpline Careers Advisor Iwan Williams explains how to make the most of this valuable time.

Q: Gap years used to be about finding yourself and going travelling to far flung places – how has this changed in the past few years?

A: There has been a major shift towards much more targeted and strategic approach to gap years. No longer is it viewed just a chance to ‘find yourself’ on a beach in Goa. Graduate employers want more than a degree. They are also seeking a cultural fit and if the student has a range of experiences to draw on it can really enhance employability.

Q: Is it important for students to learn another language etc while they are on their trips?
A: Having another language is undoubtedly seen as a good thing by many employers and if the chance is presented and the desire is there to do it then absolutely grasp that. With many employers having an increasingly global approach, it can be a significant advantage.

However, it is not essential.

Q: Why do you think gap years are so popular? 
A: Alongside the break from education and the chance to travel, a gap year provides the chance to spend time on self-development and build confidence – ideally by participating in a range of activities like volunteering, working etc – and then take that leap the following year.

Finally, there will be those who are thinking about their future career plans. Some will want to build relevant experience to help their application to university/graduate job while others might not have made their minds up and need more time before making such a decision.

Q: What do universities particularly look for from the gap year student?
A: Universities will want to see that the year has been spent positively and not been wasted. Self-development is key and whether this is through travel, gaining work experience or volunteering it’s important to think about how this will be evidenced.

Some universities will want to interview applicants during the process but all will read a personal statement. So, make sure this details the valuable experiences and skills learnt and how this will be put to good use during a degree course. This is essential.

Q: What other observations can we draw from your experience of gap years?
A: Gap years where there is a focus on gaining work experience can benefit students in two ways. Firstly, they can explore different roles and see how well suited they are and this can then lead to decisions around what degree to study. An example might be nursing – how do you know that you can work in such a clinical and demanding environment without ever having experienced it?

Also, it provides the student with the chance to pull together an employability toolkit. For example, if a student wants to work in law, having experience of working for a law firm helps them develop networks within the sector, gain a better understanding of the role and its wider impact – what we call commercial awareness – as well as offering a range of real life experiences to use in interviews and application forms.

Five ways to ensure a successful ITT year - Tracey Lawrence

Congratulations! You are about to embark on the best career and this year will, without a doubt, be your most challenging and most rewarding year professionally. To ensure a successful Initial Teacher Training (ITT) year you need to make sure that you are fully focused on developing the craft of teaching. To be where you are right now you will no doubt have an innate way with children but to learn the ever-changing skill of teaching, you need to be fully committed to continual professional development throughout the rest of your teaching career.

Behaviour Management is a skill that underpins great teaching. Without successful behaviour management in your class, you cannot have a learning atmosphere, you cannot deliver that incredible lesson that you have planned and you cannot achieve the outcomes nor the progress that you need to. Not only is it in the best interests of the children to get this part right but it is most definitely in the best interests of yourself to consistently revisit behaviour management.

Firstly, let me dispel the myth and there’s no easy way to say this: there is no magic wand. Strategies need to be added to your behaviour management toolkit and kept stored. Strategies will work with some children and not others. Some will work for a while then need changing but the following 5 ways will underpin the strategies that you develop:

1. Relationships

Relationships will be the foundations of your classroom and support you with all things education. They allow you to be able to develop a connection with a child, understand their likes/dislikes, understand the way in which they learn and enable you to support them with their emotional development. Relationships aren’t a given when you start your ITT year and you have a much tougher job to develop them during your placement due to the time pressure. The best way that you can do this in this short space of time is to immerse yourself in school time. Make it your job to get to know people. Go out at break times, get involved in an after-school club and even have your dinner in the hall a few times.

2. Parents

This links explicitly to relationships but take responsibility for passing on messages to parents from Day 1. Say hello, be friendly and show that you know the children. Teachers and Parents both have the best interests of the child at heart as this is the basis of your relationship. These positive interactions make it much easier to have the more difficult conversations. But don’t forget the positives. They often get missed when dismissing the children at the end of the day as you’re often spinning many plates.

3. Boundaries

It may seem strange having boundaries as number 3 on the list but before you even step into your placement school, I suggest that you read through the behaviour policy clearly. If it’s not on the website, then ask for it. It’s much easier to implement boundaries when you know the common ones for the school that you are in. The inconsistency of boundaries leaves room for errors which leaves room for disruption. It’s much easier to have tight boundaries then release if needed than to do the reverse so ensure that you are crystal clear on these.

4. Consistency

With implementing the behaviour policy, you must ensure consistency. Not only consistency from yourself but also consistency from your staff. If you are lucky enough to have a support assistant within your class, then you need to ensure that you are both clear on your classroom rules. Constantly revisit this with your classroom staff as people’s opinions on behaviour can vary.

5. Positivity

Reward the behaviour that you want to see. I am not advocating extrinsic rewards e.g. stickers, positive notes home although they are a great way of communicating with home. This can be anything from a smile or verbal yet specific praise. It must be specific in order for the children to understand expectations so instead of saying ‘Well done’ then you can amend this to ‘Well done for showing kindness to Jenny’.

Enjoy your ITT year and make sure that you network. The colleagues that you link with will be pivotal to the rest of your career. Welcome to the best profession on earth!


Tracey Lawrence has been a primary school teacher for nine years, and is currently a SEMH specialist leader for education and Assistant Headteacher in a mainstream school in Leicestershire. An author and TES columnist, Tracey is a regular blogger and host of the popular #behaviourchat forum. Her new book, Practical Behaviour Management for Primary School Teachers is due out in September. Follow her on Twitter @BehaviourTeach


If you liked this…

It’s one of a series of blogs to help make your introduction to teacher training a little easier. Get up-to-speed with some of the topics you’re likely to encounter in your training:

Common myths about the brain and learning

There’s more to assessment than meets the eye

Getting behaviour right from the start

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Exam Results Helpline case study: Molly Claridge

Name: Molly Claridge
Age: 19
From: Colchester in Essex

A Level results day last year
Molly found herself confused when she received her results and realised she had not done as well as she thought – but according to the online report was still accepted into her first choice of Bath Spa University to study Media and Communications.

Molly, who is now 19, had been worried after she received a C in English Language, a D is Sociology and an E in Psychology and said she felt ‘stressed and confused’ about what she would do next.

With results that were lower than she expected, she felt unsure about the fact she would still be accepted onto her course.

 “I was really nervous. You wake up and realise that ‘today is the day’ and so there’s quite a lot of pressure on you.

“When I looked online and saw my grades I really freaked out as I got lower than I thought. It was so nerve wracking anyway with all the build up to it and so the day itself was pretty traumatic.

“The thing that was confusing was that it said I was still going to get into Bath but I couldn’t really believe that without checking it out properly.”

How the Exam Results Helpline supported Stefanie
“I called the helpline number and spoke to someone who was so helpful and told me what to do. Their advice is common sense, things like calling the university itself, speaking with tutors, looking at all the other options available – things you really need to hear if you’re worried and don’t know what to do.”

Molly has now completed her first year at Bath Spa and is loving the course but said that people should always look at other options too: “I’m really glad I got into the course but university isn’t for everyone and so people should explore other options.

Stefanie’s advice to this year’s students:

“The Exam Results Helpline is the perfect resource to go through the choices in detail with someone who really knows their stuff and can help you not just think about education but about the job you want at the end of it too.”

Friday, 4 August 2017

DJ Pandora gives her support to the Exam Results Helpline 2017

Our favourite KISS FM presenter, DJ Pandora, is once again helping spread the love for our helpline. We asked her what it's like when she did her GCSEs and what tips she had for those facing it this year.

Q: You did GCSEs, can you remember what it felt like on the run up to it?
A: On the run up to my GCSE exams I remember feeling anxious, and if I am honest, a bit stressed as I was constantly worrying if I had done enough revision. I tried to be organised and I remember setting time aside every day for a different subject and getting my friends to help with study groups, but you're still left with this feeling that you've not done enough.

Q: How did it feel on the day?
A: The moment I woke up on exam day, I had a clear head as I was eager to just get in and do it. I had the huge build up of worry and I just wanted to get it over and done with, and get everything down on paper.

Q: When did you decide you didn’t want to go on and be a vet?
A: I've always had a love for animals and my parents wanted me to be a vet which I thought would be incredible. The only problem was I felt squeamish around blood so I had no idea how I would cope in that environment.

I’d always had a love of drama and at that time I wanted to be an actress so when I got an A* in Drama I was over the moon.

My parents were quite keen for me to pursue the veterinary course but I got a D in maths and a double DD in science, meaning getting that degree to become a vet just wasn’t going to be possible! They offered to pay for extra tuition to retake the exams but I told them I was happy with what I got, as it confirmed the direction I wanted to take my career in.

Q: How did you start your career in radio?
A: I started out as a promo girl at Heart Radio, and I used that experience to shadow everyone I possibly could in that building! I let everyone know that I wanted to be a radio presenter and would do anything I could to find out everything about the trade. I worked in every aspect of radio whether it was alongside the producers, finding out what the engineers did, and listening to the sales team. I even sat in on a pre-recorded show to see how it was technically operated.

I first started at a community radio called Westside, and after a few moves to other stations, Capital Radio became interested in me to do the 3am slot, then I did daytime. I was there for 4 years and just one year ago I made the decision to join KISS and the infamous KISSTORY show and I’m having the time of my life. 

Q: What three key things do you want to say to people who are waiting?
  1. Mange your stress levels because you have worked hard and done all you can.
  2. Look at options of where you want to take your career, no matter the outcome of your results. Have an idea of the sort of career you would like to pursue.
  3.  Always remember even if your grades are not what you wanted, you can STILL be a success in life ... I am proof of that!

Q: Why should they call the helpline? 
A: The helpline is a great place to go if you are looking for impartial and useful advice. It can sometimes be daunting speaking about your career with people you know, so you can call the helpline with any concerns or worries. The team understand all the modern paths and options you can follow, and can give genuine advice which will help ease your stress.
Just remember that anyone can be taught how to do a job, but no one can teach you how to be you, so make sure you are always the best version of yourself.

You can call the Exam Results Helpline on 0800 100 8000 and visit the website to find out all the opening times

You can catch Pandora on KISS weekdays from 10am to 1pm.

Take a look at Pandora’s official blog and follow her on Twitter & Instagram @PandoraTweets. 

Feeling homesick at university

by Ellen Ramsay, BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, Teesside University

University has been the best three years of my life so far but, at first, it didn’t feel like that way.

I was really excited about my new adventure – I was moving 200 miles north to begin my university course in occupational therapy. But the homesickness set in during Freshers’ Week. I found my new life very difficult – I had arrived with freshers’ flu (yes, it does exist!) and I cried all the time. I can remember saying to my family that, if I wasn’t feeling better within four weeks, I was coming home. But I stuck with it and it got better and, three years down the line, I graduated.

Feeling homesick is a normal part of starting university, especially when you’ve travelled a long way from home. Suddenly everything around you is different – a new place, people, accents, culture, language, course, combined with the pressure to get out there.

But if, like me, you’re feeling homesick, there are things that can help – buying posters from the Students’ Union, printing photos, putting up fairy lights – whatever makes your new room feel like your space.

Explore your surroundings and try to establish a routine quickly, like the route you walk to lectures or the day you do your washing. This can make the new environment feel more stable and you will hopefully feel more settled. If you're really not happy with the house you’re in, you can contact the university's accommodation services to see if you can move – although it’s always worth giving it a few weeks to settle in first.

One of the best things you can do is have a positive attitude and keep yourself busy. There are so many ways to meet people at university – in your halls, on your course, at one of the sports clubs and societies. You can volunteer or work as a student ambassador. You can meet people in the library, laundrette, gym, supermarket, or the SU toilets on a Friday night! Watching Game of Thrones in your room eating a tub of ice cream may seem appealing but it’s not going to help you make friends.

Something that I wish I had done sooner was to talk to my personal tutor and lecturers about homesickness. They are there to support you as much as teach you. You can also talk to the chaplain, student services, counsellors and staff at the Students’ Union.

So if, like me, you’re feeling homesick and don’t know what to do, remember that it’s normal to have doubts and worries about your new life. Talk to people. Chances are others feel the same – you will soon begin to settle in and have an amazing time at university. Believe me, three years flies by and, when it’s all over, you’ll be reminiscing about feeling homesick.

Useful resources