The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Joanna Grace

Sensory rooms: a sound investment in the right hands

Kitting out your school with the latest technology is no guarantee that your pupils will benefit. Joanna Grace explains why it’s important to invest in people too. The first sensory rooms in the UK emerged in the mid-1980s. Initially there were just a few of these strange immersive spaces in the...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Education is for everyone

If schools aren't working to help all children succeed, what else can they do? Elizabeth Holmes caught up with Debra Kidd to discuss the systemic problem of poor social mobility. Despite various attempts over the decades to address the inequalities that leave a blight on our society, social...
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Debby Elley

Understanding autism: what they forgot to tell you

Much of what we're told about autism gives little sense of what it's like to live comfortably, but one parent's new book is jam-packed with positive experiences. Debby Elley, co-editor of AuKids magazine at the launch of her new book, describing her experience of raising two sons with autism Note...
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John Dabell

Preparing for SATs: what works?

It's the time of year for preparing Year 6 pupils to be 'SATs-ready'. John Dabell offers suggestions for success. Every Year 6 teacher in England has the unenviable task of preparing pupils for the highlight of the year: the Key Stage 2 SATs! SATs preparation can be emotionally draining, and we don...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Bold Beginnings: think piece or set text?

Ofsted's controversial new report on Reception teaching is an opportunity to discuss what really matters in the early years. As I write this, my four-year-old son, who will start school this September, is working hard on the garden (or ‘farm’ as he describes it, after watching CBeebies’...
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Gareth D Morewood

National SEND inquiry: it's time to have your say

A new inquiry promises to review the SEND reforms. We can't afford to waste this opportunity to make our voices heard. The implementation period of the SEND reforms has officially ended, leaving at best a mixed picture with regard to outcomes for young people and families; at worst, a total...
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Gareth D Morewood

Investing in interventions: what does the research tell us?

What makes an intervention effective? How are schools to decide what to fund or deliver? Gareth D Morewood explains what we can glean from the existing literature. I've been involved in many discussions around how we evidence the effectiveness of interventions in improving learning outcomes,...
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John Viner

The coming of age of the school business manager

John Viner returns to the starting blocks with a focus on what has happened in the increasingly professional world of SBMs. The professionalism of the school business manager (SBM), with its high expectations and high accountability is in significant contrast to its amateur beginnings and it may be...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Bouncing back from a disappointing inspection outcome

Your Ofsted inspection has come and gone, but the outcome wasn't what you'd hoped. What are the next steps? If social media is anything to go by, an Ofsted inspection remains a source of dread for those who work in schools. While much work has been done by Ofsted – and particularly its national...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND reforms implementation: for better or worse?

A humble SENCO's honest appraisal of the progress we've made over the last four years. 1 April 2018 was a significant date, circled on calendars and etched into memories, for one reason: the end of the implementation period for the SEND Reforms. Or so we thought… There are many ‘old’ Statements of...
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