The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Maureen Nash

Rethinking, not recruiting: how to make the most of your TAs

Teaching assistants are integral to better learning outcomes, but not always a valued and fully utilised member of staff. According to government statistics , there are 388,000 TAs working in schools in England. This represents a total cost of around £4.4 billion each year . These figures alone...
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Dr Karamat Iqbal

Should education be secular?

Religious belief is very much alive in our schools, but many teachers are drastically unprepared to teach in the classrooms of the future. One of the most visible effects of globalisation has been the greater movement of peoples and communities. This has led to newer forms of diversity, especially...
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Gareth D Morewood

Autism and sexual health: need it be a challenge?

Understanding sexuality and relationships can one of the most challenging areas for a young person with ASC. Here are some resources to support a proactive approach. In my last post, I suggested some ‘go-to’ books for a SENCO’s autism reading list. One book I chose is the Independent Woman's...
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Joanna Grace

Caught in a spin

Fidget spinners are the latest craze to cause controversy in schools, but an outright ban won't make the underlying needs disappear. You’ve planned the perfect lesson, you have a great starter, you know pupils will find it interesting once they get into it. But their attention is elsewhere. Fidget...
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Sue Birchall

School funding reform: welcome relief or wishful thinking?

The government's promise of more investment in schools is welcome news to SBMs, but Sue Birchall thinks the proof is in the pudding. Never one to turn my nose up at more money, imagine my delight at the secretary of state for education, Justine Greening’s announcing that there will be even more...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Getting it right in the early years: pedagogy and policy

Elizabeth Holmes caught up with Jan Dubiel to clarify what good practice means in early years teaching and learning. In the early years, teaching and learning has an ‘otherness’ about it. Too often this is overlooked as we debate how younger children learn best in our schools. National director of...
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Gareth D Morewood

Autism: 5 books to add to your reading list

Books can provide a natural introduction to positive discussions around autism and young people. Here are some of my personal favourites. At almost every event I’ve spoken at over the last few years, at least one delegate has asked me how to broach the subject of a diagnosis with a child. If you're...
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John Viner

All change: the new funding formula explained

At last, the DfE has released its plans for the long-awaited national funding formula for schools. Here's what we know about the proposed reforms. Since the new national funding formula will impact on schools in every parliamentary constituency, MPs have received a detailed briefing. This summary...
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Matthew Burgess

What does Brexit mean for international students?

As the UK prepares to leave the EU and Brexit negotiations continue, Matthew Burgess looks at the impact on international students. Brexit is likely to have multiple effects on those parts of the UK's education sector that welcome students from beyond these shores. What are these effects and why do...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND: the S is not for special

Labelling for the sake of convenience has profound implications for young people and their families. All schools should ditch the deficit model. When I was appointed as SENCO 15 years ago, one of my first actions was to remove all references to 'SEN' from our faculty, my job title and our day-to-...
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