The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Leadership and staff development

John Tomsett

From vision to action: planning with coherence

Your plan for school development need not be the most unwieldy tome or a way to impress those who hold you to account. John Tomsett explains how you can focus on what matters. Less is more, always. School leaders invariably feel safe when we have lots of plans to demonstrate the efforts we are...
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John Tomsett

From vision to action: choosing your school's values

Having defined a core purpose and vision for your school, the next step is to establish a set of shared values. John Tomsett explains how this can be done. 'Authentic values are those by which a life can be lived, which can form a people that produces great deeds and thoughts.' Allan Bloom In many...
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John Tomsett

From vision to action: establishing a vision for your school

A clear and well-articulated vision will help all pupils and staff understand where the school is heading. John Tomsett describes the process of developing 'Vision 2018' at Huntington School. 'Create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place, and then translate that vision into a...
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John Tomsett

From vision to action: developing your school's core purpose

Visions and values are important, but schools need something to draw all these elements together. Headteacher John Tomsett explains how staff and students can shape a core purpose. Foundations ‘At the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you...
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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 Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) What are the key skills that a finance director (FD) or chief finance officer (CFO) in a MAT needs? If...
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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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