The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Teaching and learning

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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Alex Masters

Teachers: you have every right to be boring

The recent news that an English teacher has been struck off, partly owing to the fact her lessons were deemed ‘boring’ by her pupils, has left me incensed. I don’t wish to comment on this personal case – especially owing to the fact there were various factors leading to her dismissal – but the fact...
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Owen Carter

Why I hate TED talks

Everyone seems to trust TED talks, but they're really not a good way to get ideas about education. Here's why. Inspiring, informative, entertaining: who doesn’t love a TED talk? Well, me. I think they stink. But how can you hate TED talks? Ok, let’s rewind a moment. They’re not all bad. In fact, if...
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Owen Carter

Eight principles of effective teaching

Eight ideas from cognitive psychology that you should think about putting into your teaching. Lists of effective teaching are ten a penny – some useful, some not so much. There are some great ones: Tom Sherrington has put together a really useful (and practical) set of principles , Shaun Allison...
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James Mannion

How I learned to stop worrying and love teacher research

The Praxis Curriculum, an innovative approach to teaching Learning to Learn at Key Stage 3, produced compelling evidence of academic gains across all subject areas and an almost complete closing of the attainment gap. I qualified as a science teacher in 2006. In 2007, I became gifted and talented...
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Linda Thornton

Using natural materials to enhance children’s learning

Natural resources encourage children to observe closely and use all their senses. Here are some practical ideas to bring them into early years learning. Providing an interesting and ever-changing environment for children to explore is an ideal way to develop their curiosity, provide opportunities...
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