The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Leading teaching and learning

John Viner

New FE access policy is a clause for concern

With the 'Baker clause' now in effect, secondary schools are obliged to open their doors to technical education providers. But are they meeting this new requirement? Former education secretary Kenneth Baker addresses the 1987 Conservative Party conference in Brighton. Picture credit: Evening...
Read more...
John Dabell

Bringing video-based CPD into focus

Watching how we teach is a great way to revitalise lesson observation and feedback. John Dabell provides some advice for getting started. We have witnessed a significant shift in our perception of lesson observations; from something to be feared to an opportunity to engage in open and productive...
Read more...
Elizabeth Holmes

More smiles, less stick: Chris Dyson on a positive approach to behaviour

At Parklands Primary School, believing that pupils can do their best is the first step to better behaviour. Headteacher Chris Dyson spoke to Elizabeth Holmes about their 'no exclusions' approach. Much has been said recently about behaviour management. From ‘no excuses’ to 'no exclusions', the way...
Read more...
Ian Warwick

How to stretch the more able: go off-piste, define differentiation and avoid time-wasting marking

Conference chair Ian Warwick addresses some of the questions posed by delegates at the 'Stretch and Challenge the More Able' event. Like a GPS, teachers are prone to denying students responsibility for their own path-finding We're told the curriculum is about mastering all learning at a child's own...
Read more...
Dr Karamat Iqbal

Are extra-curricular activities important?

Out-of-hours pursuits can play a significant role in shaping a pupil's future. They deserve pride of place in a school's offer. In 2014, the then-secretary of state for education, Michael Gove gave a speech in which he pointed out that schools that excelled academically had a programme of extra-...
Read more...
John Dabell

Why lazy teachers are the best

Working hard or hardly working? John Dabell explains why putting the power in pupils' hands is the best way for teachers to look after their own wellbeing. I'm a lazy teacher – a really lazy teacher. Many of my colleagues are too. We don’t mind admitting it either. In fact, we’re very proud. You...
Read more...
Elizabeth Holmes

'Serious potential': David Weston on the benefits of lesson study

Across the country, schools are using lesson study to explore the 'what next' of learning. Elizabeth Holmes caught up with David Weston to discuss the growing popularity of this imported approach. The continuing personal and professional development of teachers will always be of the utmost...
Read more...
Anna Reid

What does ‘high potential’ mean for languages?

Our languages department strives to convince all pupils that they have can thrive at French or Spanish. To do this, we wanted to understand what being 'high potential' actually involves. ‘High potential’ is a puzzling term if you believe, as I do, that every child has latent skills and competencies...
Read more...
Elizabeth Holmes

Mastery, picture books and teaching styles: a headteacher's view

Elizabeth Holmes sat down with headteacher Simon Smith to discuss mastery learning in primary schools and the benefit of using picture books to develop young readers. Simon is the headteacher at East Whitby Academy, a primary school in North Yorkshire. He is a dedicated champion of literacy in...
Read more...
John Stanier

A character-building curriculum in 12 easy steps

Great Torrington School redesigned its Year 7 curriculum to unleash passions and embed character. Assistant headteacher John Stanier explains how you can do the same. Building characters, one opportunity at a time (picture credit: W_Minshull) Our Year 7 pupils don’t ‘do’ individual subjects. They...
Read more...