The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Nickii Messer

School leaders: why not look on the bright side?

School leaders might see little cause for optimism in these hectic times. But when the going gets tough, Nickii Messer would rather be the swan than the headless chicken! 'Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.' ~ Colin Powell Even in the current climate I remain an optimist. I love optimistic...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Championing diversity and equality in these challenging times

In these turbulent times, schools must ensure that their commitment to equality and diversity shines through. 'It’s never too late to give up your prejudices.' ~ Henry David Thoreau As with our communities, our schools are diverse. Diversity is not abstract in any way. It is simply a reflection of...
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Alex Masters

Let’s end the fear around academisation

SBMs up and down the country are full of trepidation about their school’s impending academisation. We need to see this as an opportunity, rather than threat. ‘When nothing is sure, everything is possible.’ It’s fair to say that the education system is always in a state of flux and, given the fact...
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Gareth D Morewood

Supporting positive paths to adulthood

Offering a variety of subjects to Year 9 pupils, going beyond the core allocation, is integral to our support for the next generation of successful adults. I have written previously about the importance of an inclusive curriculum and how we define success ; never has this been a more vital element...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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'...
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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...
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