The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Leadership and staff development

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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Ashmi Morjaria

School leadership: for better for worse, till death do us part

I often hear colleagues talk about being 'married' to teaching. But what happens when matrimony becomes acrimony, and who can prevent it? For almost a third of teachers, the profession is a turbulent union that will end in divorce within the first five years Relationship breakdown Back in 2010,...
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Lisa Griffin

Could you be a MAT CFO?

We speak to financial experts about the crucial role played by finance directors in multi-academy trusts. Stephen Morales, executive director of the National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) What are the key skills that a finance director (FD) or chief finance officer (CFO) in a...
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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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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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Nickii Messer

SBMs: what do you mean 'it’s difficult'?

School business management is no picnic, but what do we mean when we dismiss a challenge as 'difficult'? I’m constantly wrestling with how school business managers can best equip themselves for the challenges ahead. We know that: budgets will continue to be squeezed maintained schools face...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Spotlight on #WomenEd

Is #WomenEd, a growing grassroots movement for women aspiring to school leadership, a force for good in education's current climate? I caught up with Jules Daulby to find out more. Elizabeth Holmes : What is #WomenEd? Jules Daulby : #WomenEd is a grassroots movement which connects existing and...
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Alex Cuetos

Native speaker, better teacher? Not always!

Demand for teachers has made China a popular working destination. As I’ve found, it’s also a destination for unqualified and unmotivated ‘teachers’ looking to make easy money. As a Spaniard teaching English in China, I’m living proof of the fact that teachers are becoming increasingly hard to come...
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John Viner

The perils of school-based initial teacher training

Faced with declining candidate quality for teaching posts, we need to consider the variability of initial teacher training (ITT) and how it might be adding to our recruitment woes. The most recent Teacher Recruitment Index from the Times Educational Supplement reports that headteachers are unhappy...
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Alex Masters

Are you feeling underappreciated? This needs to stop!

Many SBMs have positive relations with their heads. However, others continue to suffer misunderstanding and disrespect. ‘I love my head!’ one SBM told me. ‘He’s at the forefront of education but still cares about every child and every member of staff. A rare breed.’ ‘Mine is amazing!’ another...
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