The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Teaching and learning

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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Joanna Grace

Pupils with SEND are just the tip of the iceberg

The mark of true inclusion is that all pupils benefit, not just those with SEND. Joanna Grace explains why it's important to see the bigger picture. In my work at The Sensory Projects , I provide training to settings and organisations looking to better understand the sensory world. One day I could...
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Dr Karamat Iqbal

The cost of educational underachievement

The benefits of receiving an education are matched only by the cost of not receiving one. Karamat Iqbal explains why underachievement is potentially life-changing. They say 'You don't know the value of something until it's gone', and education is no exception to this rule. It is easy to say that...
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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

Spotlight on Northern Rocks

Although only in its fourth year, Northern Rocks is firmly established in the academic calendar as a powerhouse of pedagogical thinking. I spoke to its co-founder ahead of this year's conference. Drawing together teachers and others working in the field of education, Northern Rocks offers a forum...
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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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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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Owen Carter

Don't tell students to follow their passions

It seems a given that teachers should help pupils to find and follow their passions. But things just aren’t so simple. ‘Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’. How often have you heard this quotation, or some spin on it? Whether we’re being told to follow our passion,...
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Alex Masters

Schools that reject technology are not switched on

A Steiner school has rejected technology in the classroom. Alex Masters thinks they’re missing a trick. A recent Guardian report ‘ Could Steiner schools have a point on children, tablets and tech ?’ reveals that a Steiner school in Nottingham has rejected tablets, computers and whiteboards in...
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