The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Leading teaching and learning

John Dabell

Teachers can make their mark with written feedback

Effective feedback lies at the heart of the learning process. John Dabell explains why written feedback should be no exception. Marking has been demonised. It has been hijacked by the marking martyrs who rage against the machine. They hate marking and pour scorn on it at every available opportunity...
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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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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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-...
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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...
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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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