The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Janet Goodall

Are parents ever hard to reach?

Dismissing parents as unavailable or uncooperative will never help schools to foster better engagement. If we want them to get involved, there has to be trust! Whenever I’m working with schools to improve parental engagement, I’m invariably asked the question: ‘What do we do about the parents who...
Read more...
Joanne Miles

Lesson observations: quality assurance or quality improvement?

Rather than something staff repeatedly suffer through, a school’s observation cycle can be an invaluable professional learning tool – if you give them a say. Over the last few years, I have spent much time helping schools and colleges to re-think their use of lesson observations. Where observation...
Read more...
Steve Taylor

MATs: a 'try before you buy' approach

Executive head Steve Taylor explains why his multi-academy trust are taking struggling schools on loan for a year as part of a ‘try before you buy’ scheme. Robin Hood Multi Academy Trust formed in September 2016 with a clear vision: to test the boundaries of education, take risks and follow what we...
Read more...
Joanne Miles

The challenges of sustaining joined-up CPD

When coordinating a whole-school development cycle for all staff to get behind, there are several common pitfalls to be aware of. This year I have written online materials and organised workshops for Optimus on the thorny issue of joining up continuing professional development (CPD) cycles with...
Read more...
Janet Goodall

What works for engaging parents?

From posters in the playground to bacon butties, schools are likely to find new ways to bring parents on board if they're given time to think creatively. We’ve recently completed a yearlong project with 34 local schools in the Wiltshire local authority. The aim was to improve these schools'...
Read more...
Gareth D Morewood

Col-lab-orating to connect neuroscience with education

The role of neuroscience in educational practice - particularly for children and young people with SEND - has been controversial, but one laboratory's research shows great promise. There have been many unsubstantiated claims at events regarding ‘breakthroughs’ in neuroscience, including one example...
Read more...
John Viner

Voluntary but unvalued: the crisis in governor recruitment

When governors are so often blamed for poor inspection judgements, is it any wonder that schools struggle to get committed volunteers through the door? When preparing for a Section 48 inspection I have to read a number of documents, including the school’s most recent Ofsted report. Recently, I...
Read more...
Webinar
Academy Ambassadors

From LGB to MAT and beyond: building the trustee board

How do you build the right governance board for a new or growing MAT? Sarah Gore of Academy Ambassadors explores what to consider when recruiting and structuring your board of trustees. Download the presentation slides Download the podcast In this 30-minute webinar, we will explore: making the...
Read more...
Chris Fenton

Manama or Manchester: parents are parents

When working with parents, is there any difference between being a headteacher in the UK and headteacher abroad? Chris Fenton describes his experience. I fought in a playground once. Not uncommon I suppose, but more so when I reveal that I was a headteacher at the time. I may be exaggerating a...
Read more...
Gareth D Morewood

Visual ethnography: bringing a child-centred approach into focus

If we are to help pupils with SEND meet their outcomes, how can we determine what's 'important' for them? Research into the use of photographs as data could have the answer. Last summer I was fortunate enough to lead a workshop on outcomes and EHCPs at the SENCO Update conference . A short paper...
Read more...