The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Dr Karamat Iqbal

What is controversial in the classroom?

What makes something controversial? In the first part of a two-part series, Karamat Iqbal explores definitions of controversy and approaches to teaching it. Whether our fellow citizens can feed themselves is often in the news these days. This maybe because of Marcus Rashford’s excellent work on...
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Adele Bates

'Why can't they just behave?'

Answer: because there is something in that negative behaviour that is communicating an unmet need – and It’s our jobs as educators to find out what that is. We’re all human, and will all ponder variations of this question from time to time. ‘Why now?’ ‘It’s not that hard to just sit down.’ ‘It must...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Managing anxiety in challenging times

The changing and challenging circumstances we find ourselves in are creating a wave of anxiety, particularly for those working in schools. Elizabeth Holmes looks at what to do and where to go for help. This is unquestionably an anxiety-inducing time. As I write, there have been challenging words...
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Nicola Harvey

Digital mental health platforms for young people: an innovative way forward?

The pandemic is just one factor driving the increased use of online mental health platforms. Nicola Harvey weighs up the opportunities and challenges this innovation presents. At a time when everyone is adjusting to the tier system and vaccines are on the way, children and young people are...
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Gareth D Morewood

High quality teaching for all: two essential strategies

Gareth D Morewood explores the power of dual coding and retrieval practice in improving learning outcomes for all children and young people. I’ve written previously about creating a calm, consistent, positive learning environment that benefits everyone; once established and supported by constant...
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Fiona Carnie

Caring for vulnerable children: put listening at the heart of schools

Fiona Carnie draws on examples from practice at home and abroad to explore the vital role of listening in pandemic recovery, for children, families and staff. Many children – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – are suffering deeply through this pandemic. Increasing numbers live in...
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Adele Bates

‘But they’re fine with me’ – why this doesn’t help when managing behaviour

Adele Bates explains why this comment is unsupportive of staff and unhelpful for pupils and suggests some alternative approaches. ‘But they’re fine with me’ is the most useless comment I received in my NQT year. I had a Year 7 class once a fortnight for their ‘library session’ during my PGCE. I...
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Catherine O'Farrell

From fear to opportunity and growth: levering the power of the collective

Catherine O’Farrell explains how a need for Covid-19 solutions has given rise to an international community of practice around inclusion. Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay So, we all know the narrative that has been espoused again and again over the past months. It’s flooding our televisions,...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Improving inclusion for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are statistically the most vulnerable of any identified group of pupils in the UK. Why is this, and what can be done in schools to challenge biases and change mindsets? Damian Le Bas’ book The Stopping Places: A journey through Gypsy Britain , which combines memoir...
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Kelly Hannaghan

Coping with change and moving forward with hope

Kelly Hannaghan shares her lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic and explores ways to adjust to the new normal in education and life. Photo by Florian Bernhardt on Unsplash As I sit in my local community library reflecting on 2020, it dawns on me that I haven’t really taken the...
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