Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsHello, my name is Helen Bilton, and I'm Professor of Outdoor Learning at the University of Reading. Welcome to this course, Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary Schools. Over the next four weeks, we'll be looking at four topics, bias in the classroom, how children learn, the environment for learning, and communication and language. And I'll be supported by experts in schools and at University. Education is complex. This course is designed to unpick that complexity, sometimes challenge your thinking, and enthuse you about children's learning.

Welcome to the course

Hello and a warm welcome to ‘Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary School’, a four week course produced by the Institute of Education at the University of Reading.

This course will provide expert guidance for support staff working in schools and give you the opportunity to upskill yourself, giving you the knowledge and confidence to work more effectively in supporting and teaching pupils. You’ll explore teaching methods and pedagogies that are used in the classroom to help you better understand and work with teachers and schools who employ these techniques.

You’ll also be looking at and challenging the ways in which pupils are currently supported. You’ll uncover and discuss old and new ideas, as well as sharing examples of best practice with one another. We want you to make the most out of this course and there are a number of activities for you to take part in which include videos, quizzes, articles and discussions. We also provide you with practical exercises which we encourage you to take part in and share your experiences back with your fellow learners.

The course consists of four weeks with each one focusing on a particular area of interest:

  • Week 1: You and others
  • Week 2: How people learn
  • Week 3: The environment for learning
  • Week 4: Communication and language

By the end of the course we hope you’ll be able to demonstrate knowledge and confidence to work more effectively in supporting and teaching at secondary level, apply the course as a tool for teaching and classroom support and demonstrate an understanding of the advice available.

The course team

Through the initial four weeks of the course (from the 24 February until 22 March), you’ll have a team of experts who will guide you through the course and be on hand to help support the discussions. Meet:

Helen Bilton is the lead educator. Helen is Professor of Outdoor Learning, Director of Postgraduate Taught programmes and School Director of Academic Tutoring at the University of Reading. Helen has over 35 years of experience in teacher training and education, and support staff training.

Helen will be joined by course Mentor Libby Witney, a Secondary School teacher based in Berkshire.

Helen and Libby will aim to answer your queries where they can but please bear in mind, they will not be able to respond to every post. Don’t let that stop you from asking questions and sharing your experiences though, as you may find that together with other learners, you may be able to help one another out.

To view comments made by Helen and Libby, click on their name to visit their profile page and click the ‘Follow’ button. Any comment made will then appear in your activity feed which you can filter by ‘Following’.


If you missed the chance to introduce yourself in the Welcome Area, why not tell us who you are and what you’re hoping to gain from the course in the comments area below?

If you find talking online a daunting prospect but would like to give it a try, you may find it helpful to start off in a small way. If you see a comment you agree with or find interesting, you can let the other learner know by clicking the ‘Like’ button. Hopefully this will help build your confidence and once you feel more comfortable, you can move on to replying directly to a comment you find interesting.

The Institute of Education (IoE)

Our staff are experienced and highly-skilled teachers and researchers who come from the sector.

We work to inspire our students to become reflective, engaged and active citizens, with the resilience and confidence to tackle challenges and shape lives.

Locally, we have well-established partnerships with over 400 schools. Globally, our research, consultancy and other projects extend to countries as varied as China, Jamaica, the USA and Singapore.

The IoE is ranked 12th in the UK for Education (The Guardian University League Table 2020).

For the latest news and information about the IoE, you can follow their Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

A short survey from the University of Reading

We have compiled an optional survey which has been designed to gain feedback from any learner on this course who wishes to take part, to help us better understand your motivation to participate in the Supporting Successful Learning Open Online Course.

This independent survey is hosted on a third party site (Typeform) and the data from this survey is being collected by the University of Reading. The feedback you provide will be used to help inform and improve teaching practice and the development of online learning resources at the University of Reading.

This short survey will take approximately 3 minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous, so please do NOT include your name, contact details or any information that will identify you. This is an optional survey and if you do not wish to take part, you can simply mark this Step as complete and move on to the next Step in the course. Analysis of your feedback will be used for academic purposes and may be disseminated publicly in research papers, conferences and journal articles. All data you provide will be anonymised.

Published responses or quotes from the survey will be phrased to ensure that no individual is identifiable. By completing the survey, you are confirming that you understand and agree to your anonymous responses being used for the evaluation and research purposes described. Upon completion, there is no way of identifying your responses and we are unable to remove your data from the evaluation results. This study is being undertaken by the Online Courses team at the University of Reading. If you have any queries regarding the survey, please contact

Go to survey

Our course tip

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Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary School

University of Reading

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: