The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

School communications

Elizabeth Holmes

NEU horizons for ATL and NUT

The amalgamation of two national education unions is a rallying cry for those looking to get their voices heard. It couldn't have come at a better time, argues Elizabeth Holmes. In March, members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), two of the...
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Justin Smith

Into the mix: why do schools need to market themselves?

The mere mention of marketing can arouse cynicism in schools, but perhaps it's time to think differently. ‘It’s all a bit fluffy isn’t it, that marketing lark. Airy fairy stuff, and to be honest I don’t have time for it.’ So said a delegate before walking into my ‘marketing for schools’ workshop a...
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John Viner

Still marching in: the continuing growth of faith schools

In today’s pluralistic society, what role should religious education play? John Viner thinks that looking backward may help us look ahead. Since its earliest days, the provision of education in England and Wales has been a strange partnership between church and state, between the religious and the...
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Denise Inwood

Teaching schools must work together, but they need a helping hand

Six years on from the introduction of teaching schools, there’s a challenge to be faced: the absence of any coordinated school-to-school support. Teaching schools were first introduced in 2011 to facilitate systemic change in teacher training. Since then, it has become evident that the support they...
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John Viner

Term-time holidays: the verdict is in

The Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Jon Platt case highlights again the importance of dealing with term-time holidays - though we're yet to hear the last of this legal tussle. I have previously examined the debate surrounding term-time absences. In this update, I consider what happened in...
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Alex Masters

Let’s end the fear around academisation

SBMs up and down the country are full of trepidation about their school’s impending academisation. We need to see this as an opportunity, rather than threat. ‘When nothing is sure, everything is possible.’ It’s fair to say that the education system is always in a state of flux and, given the fact...
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Janet Goodall

What works for engaging parents?

From posters in the playground to bacon butties, schools are likely to find new ways to bring parents on board if they're given time to think creatively. We’ve recently completed a yearlong project with 34 local schools in the Wiltshire local authority. The aim was to improve these schools'...
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Chris Fenton

Manama or Manchester: parents are parents

When working with parents, is there any difference between being a headteacher in the UK and headteacher abroad? Chris Fenton describes his experience. I fought in a playground once. Not uncommon I suppose, but more so when I reveal that I was a headteacher at the time. I may be exaggerating a...
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Sue Birchall

To MAT, or not to MAT?

Academisation has significant implications for the role of the SBM. If you place your trust in trusts, collaboration will be the key to meeting the needs of pupils. Are multi-academy trusts the future of academies? As someone who works within a multi-academy trust (MAT), I’m eagerly watching the...
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John Viner

The inequality of deferred entry

Deferring entry for summer-born children may work for some, but not for others. It is time to be absolutely clear about what admissions authorities can and cannot do. My twin grandsons were born in August. Bright though they are, when they are due to start school – when they just turn four – their...
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