The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Leading teaching and learning

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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Linda Evans

Ask and you shall receive: how to stretch pupils with questioning techniques

Linda Evans explains how developing questioning skills in teachers and pupils can extend learning. Many books have been written on about the role of questioning in teaching and learning, and its importance is clearly acknowledged in published good practice. In the day-to-day delivery of lessons,...
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Anita Foster

Help pupils make memories, not take photos!

We snap, share and store our memories all the time - but if we truly want to help children learn, we need to consider swapping tablets for trees. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to whale watch in New Zealand. Sperm whales just off the coast of the South Island. I have many photos, including...
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Anita Foster

Effective teaching in the great outdoors

Outdoor learning can be a great way to enrich a school's curriculum and engage pupils in new opportunities beyond the typical forest school afternoon. When I tell people what I do, I often get a response along the lines of ‘Oh, forest schools?’ While I appreciate much of what forest schools can do...
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Chris Fenton

We’re not going on a summer holiday

Working abroad conjures up images of sun, sea and sand but is it always what it seems? Headteacher Chris Fenton describes his experience of working abroad. Living and working abroad isn’t a holiday, though when you look at some international education recruitment sites it’s difficult to make that...
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James Allen

PE in schools: future goals and current obstacles

Their ability to deliver outstanding outcomes is vital to the health of future generations, but the challenges faced by PE professionals are considerable. What lies in the road ahead? Back in March, I conducted some research with Physical Education professionals in an effort to really understand...
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Kate Herbert-Smith

Teachers as researchers: 6 ways to encourage action research

Kate Herbert-Smith of IRIS Connect outlines how to encourage an action research culture to make a meaningful impact on pupil outcomes Teacher research is a powerful tool for professional learning. It has the potential to enhance and improve teaching and learning as well as increase teachers’...
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