The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Ashmi Morjaria

From BAFTA to PGCE

People often ask me why I traded in a career of glitz and glam for the classroom. My answer is that it’s merely the best accident that ever happened to me. It feels like yesterday when I left a meeting at the BBC only to discover that the children’s department was to be relocated from London to...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND is everyone's business

The best provision for SEND is only possible if the SENCO empowers all staff to take responsibility. Who knows when they'll have to steady the ship? Over the last five weeks I've suffered through an unprecedented period of ill health, the longest I’ve had in my 20-year career to date. Not only has...
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Torsten Payne

A lesson to challenge every pupil

Finding opportunities to stretch in the classroom shouldn't be a challenge. Here are three ingredients of a lesson that will get all pupils, including the more able, thinking. According to Ofsted , the best teaching ‘engages and includes all pupils, with work that is challenging enough and that...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Teachers: does your professional learning have purpose?

To guarantee the 'C' in CPD, teachers should always be asking questions of the research they carry out or the training they receive. Karl Bentley is a senior lecturer and programme director for PGCE 7-14 at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent. After a career in power and control engineering...
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Gareth D Morewood

'On the back foot': a parent's view on choosing the right school for SEND

I spoke to one parent about their struggle to find the right primary school for their child on the autism spectrum. As a secondary SENCO, I am always very humbled by when talking to primary colleagues - especially parents and carers. I try to gather as much information as I can during conversations...
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Dr Karamat Iqbal

No more Trojan Horses

In recent years, education in Birmingham has been the subject of national controversy. What can schools do to prevent history repeating itself? In March 2014, the press reported an alleged plot by so-called ‘hardline Islamists’ to take over a number of Birmingham schools. The substance of the plot...
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John Viner

Still marching in: the continuing growth of faith schools

In today’s pluralistic society, what role should religious education play? John Viner thinks that looking backward may help us look ahead. Since its earliest days, the provision of education in England and Wales has been a strange partnership between church and state, between the religious and the...
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Jack Procter-Blain

Enhancing social skills one brick at a time

The very mention of LEGO ® in school might conjure images of chaos, but group brick-building has proved to be a highly effective intervention for pupils with SEND. LEGO® is everywhere these days. The iconic brick has established itself in just about every form you can imagine, from the classic sets...
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John Viner

When fast-track adoption comes off the rails

When it works, the fast-track adoption route can save prospective parents a lot of hassle. But when it doesn't, schools are the first to see the emotional consequences. Angela and Darren are a childless couple. Having exhausted all other possibilities, they started fostering for the local authority...
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Gareth D Morewood

How can we improve outcomes in a broken system?

The initial promise of the SEND reforms has been replaced with confusion, frustration and delays. The system works well for no one, least of all our children and young people. Back in September 2014, there was a lot of hope that the introduction of the SEND reforms would bring better outcomes for...
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