The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Teaching and learning

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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Owen Carter

Review: Ouroboros by Greg Ashman

Is education eating its own tail? Owen Carter reviews Ouroboros by Greg Ashman. Ouroboros is a very, very interesting book. The name refers to the ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail: applied to education, it means that fads, trends and all the worst of teaching gimmickry come round time...
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Miranda Galloway

Using history to support children with SEND

Miranda Galloway, from local social enterprise Dig Discover Enjoy, explains how engaging with archaeology can encourage pupils with SEN to be creative and learn new skills. Our mission is to enable people to get involved in archaeology and heritage. Getting creative with Roman plates We realised...
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Katie Renton

Action research: challenging and improving teaching practice

Teachers are constantly challenged to improve and reflect on their practice. Katie Renton, junior content executive at Optimus Education, looks at how teachers can improve pupils’ experiences in the classroom through action research. Professional development in schools must create an overt...
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Alex Masters

The state of play: how Lego can lead to deeper learning

‘Play is the beginning of knowledge,’ so a wise man once said. Indeed, recent studies have found clear links between play and deeper learning...so much so that there have been calls for Ofsted to stress the importance of play in its inspection framework. There are many compelling cases for the link...
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Owen Carter

What you say to pupils matters - a lot

If there’s one thing I learnt from Growing Excellence , it’s that what you say to pupils matters. It really matters. Why? It’s what takes you from this butterfly: To this butterfly: Put simply, Dweck’s research shows us that often we get back what we put in. If you tell someone they’re excellent at...
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