The Blame Games and Student Behaviour

“We can curse the darkness or shine a light”

A Headteacher once said to me she knew when a new video game had been released because there was a spike in absences and lateness the day after!

Interesting thought really especially as both teachers and parents alike currently glaze over when they hear the word fortnight; to the extent that one primary school recently banned any mention of it in the classroom.


Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.

12 Ways to Support Introverts in the Classroom

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Some may perceive you like one or the other. However, in my opinion, there’s an extrovert and an introvert in all of us.

It is what we do with these aspects of ourselves in different contexts that will help us in situations that need us to adapt.

Similarly, for children, some pupils are extroverts that naturally contribute in class and voice their opinions and appear confident and self-assured. As teachers though, we still need to look and observe more closely as sometimes being an extrovert can mask a whole host of issues.

Introverted pupils can also be a challenge in class. In the Oxford Dictionary, an introvert is described as a “shy and reticent person”. What we need to know as teachers are that just because they have “quieter qualities” within their personality trait, they are not less able. It takes skilful teaching and learning and “getting to know the child, carefully, over time” that will help them make progress.

Here are 12 ways to encourage introverts in your class!

1. Get to know the child

Observe them keenly and look at how they behave and interact with their peers. Build up a picture from others such as teaching assistants, midday supervisors, parents and carers and former teachers. It will inform you on ways to move forward with the child.

2. Observe body language

Although some may seem shy and hesitant, body language and facial expressions still give us huge clues on what people think and their likes and dislikes.

3. Give them “Voice Time” and don’t interrupt them

Give pupils advance warning of what you want them to do and inform them of any change so that they have time to reflect. Be patient but persist in getting a contribution, so they also have the chance to share their ideas and opinions. Avoid interrupting then as that can disrupt their thought trains.

shy book class

Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.

The Soft Skills of Leadership

You have worked hard and promotion has come your way. The CPD courses, hours spent reading and the constant seeking of ‘whole school opportunities’ have paid off.

Finally appointed to the leadership position that has eluded you for some time, you will make this work. The vision is in your heart, you picture yourself sharing, collaborating with like-minded people, you will make a difference. It’s your time.

This is a valid picture of the inception of leadership. Full of hope and so it should be, school leadership is the cradle of hope for thousands of young people in our schools across the nation. As a leader, you will be adept in processes that underpin school improvement and strategies that secure effective teaching.

You know how to write an action plan, hold staff to account and engage that elusive parent who never comes to the parents evening unless you practically pay them!

You have successfully completed leadership courses, so let me share with you the soft skills of leadership that are rarely part of any course syllabus, but will influence the success of your leadership journey far more than you realise. The leader who is appointed and thrives in their position is the one who grasps these concepts early.

Robles identifies 10 soft skills needed in leadership and in the workplace generally:

  • Communication
  • Professionalism
  • Courtesy
  • Work ethic
  • Flexibility
  • Teamwork
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Positive attitude

Every school leader would recognise these playing a role in their day, but we underestimate the weight these soft skills have in relation to how our leadership is received by others.

The underestimation may stem from the term ‘soft skills’ itself. Think about the word soft. It’s the obvious contrast to hard—as in the phrases; hard data, hard evidence, and hard thinking. If hard implies objective, clearly defined and reliable: soft must imply subjective, woolly, and unreliable—soft-hearted rather than hard-headed. Soft outcomes are sentimental or ‘warm and fuzzy’. It undermines a claim for serious attention.


Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.

Webinar: Courageous Leadership with Diana Osagie

Courageous Leadership: The 7 Key Steps with Diana Osagie | Tuesday 26 February 2019 | Online

Event Description:

The transition into and maintenance of effective leadership takes courage. You can be in leadership for many years and only have just started your courageous chapter. Some leaders never take the time to develop this aspect of leading their community or team. But once your role involves leading others it is very important that you lead with integrity, purpose and courage.

Join Opogo Community Expert and CEO of Courageous Leadership Diana Osagie as she walks you through her internationally renowned 7 Statements of Courageous Leadership. These include statements such as;

– “I am human first and a leader second, I remember the importance of family, love, compassion and grace.
– “Leadership has weight and I have the emotional and physical strength to carry it”

This webinar is designed for you to invigorate your leadership journey with a healthy dose of courage and tenacity.

This webinar is ideal for existing leadership team members looking for a spark of inspiration or those starting or on their journey to leadership.

Speaker Profile: Diana Osagie

Diana is a School Inspector, Consultant Head Teacher & Leadership Coach with 16 years’ experience leading secondary education, including six years as a successful head teacher in a London secondary school; Diana works at the cutting edge of education and school improvement. She is known as a resilient school leader, skilled in urban leadership under challenging circumstances. Diana has substantial success in developing school-wide models that strategically enhance the quality of teaching and learning across the curriculum and can couple sound strategic vision whilst giving clear operational direction.

The Language of Leadership

Trust, communication, motivation, delegation, positivity, creativity, feedback, flexibility and responsibility.

These are some of the words you might associate with great leadership. Like any other language, the language of leadership must be learned, honed and practiced. It is the art of communication. Give employees your undivided attention, listen first, talk after and observe your body language. But above all, connect.
Trust. As Sir Terry Leahy suggests, “trust is the bedrock of leadership.” Teachers should feel comfortable approaching their managers and leaders with any concerns they might have. Without that element of trust, employees are less likely to share their apprehensions, and this can cause further issues much later.

Table cogs

If there is mutual respect and trust, teachers are more likely to share their thoughts and give their honest opinions. Being an honest and open leader will inspire your employees to do the same.

Confidentiality falls under this branch. Sharing private details about another employee is considered bad practice, so any concerns raised should be dealt with empathy and integrity between yourselves.

Communication is also fundamental. Leaders should communicate goals and tasks clearly and concisely in all forums. That includes individual, departmental and whole-school communication, whether it is in person, via telephone or via email.

Although a good leader should be able to articulate their thoughts carefully, they should also be willing to listen.

Leader graph

Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively click here to download the Opogo app for android.

Managing Mental Health when Preparing for Exams

As GCSE exams loom just months away it is important to help pupils manage their mental health as well as their revision.

In this blog, we consider ways to reinforce a positive mindset in order to manage the anxiety that builds in the minds of our pupils as GCSE exams approach.

Over the next few months, teachers will go above and beyond for their pupils in order to help them achieve exam success. Revision notes, early morning sessions, after-school sessions, holiday revision camps, the list is endless and in some cases, teachers work harder for GCSE exams than their pupils do!

However, academic support is not the only support mechanism pupils need and it is important that managing exam stress and pupils mental health forms part of a school’s revision strategy.

thinking brain

Anxiety can be a real block to success because if a pupil feels anxious they often give themselves negative messages like: ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘I’m going to fail’. If you hear your pupils say these things help them replace these thoughts with a more positive approach, ‘this is just anxiety and it is going to be okay’.

Visualisation can help pupils feel more positive. Spend five mindful minutes at the end of your revision sessions asking pupils to imagine themselves applying the knowledge they have just learnt in the exam.

Ask them to picture themselves sitting at the exam desk, turning over the paper and answering a question on the topic you have just revised. This will help reinforce a positive message of, ‘I can do this’. I love the quote, ‘Just because something is hard, does not mean it is impossible’.

This can put the struggle into some perspective and turn a negative thought into another positive. Help your pupils believe anything is possible with the right attitude and hard work.

Most pupils will know what grades they require in order to progress onto their post-16 pathway, whether that’s A Levels, BTECs or an apprenticeship, however, this can place pressure on pupils who may worry, ‘what if I don’t get the grades I need?’

#selfcaresaturday (5)

In order to manage anxiety linked to their results ensure your pupils have a ‘Plan A’ and a ‘Plan B’ in place. Putting pressure on themselves to pursue one single pathway can add to exam stress, and whilst having an end goal is an excellent motivator, having a Plan B can help manage this stress.

Encourage all your pupils to put a Plan B in place which they would be happy to implement if there is a slight roadblock in their way on results day. It is also important for parents to be on board with this too, as often it is the parents who end up in tears because they can’t see a solution when emotions are high.

Exam results are clearly very important, however, young people can still be successful in life if their GCSEs don’t go quite to plan and it is vital teachers reinforce this message.

A silver lining can always be found if needed, but for the time being encourage pupils to reach for the stars now, rather than looking for the silver lining in the clouds in August.

Pupil Mentoring 101 with Elaine Thomas

Pupil Mentoring 101  with Elaine Thomas | Tuesday 19 February 2019 | Webinar


Event description

Mentoring is important, not only because of the knowledge and skills students can learn from mentors but also because mentoring provides socialisation and personal support to facilitate success in school and beyond. Quality mentoring simply put greatly enhances a pupil’s’ chances for success.

In this session, Elaine Thomas, Director of The Mentoring Lab, will explore several of the most important themes correlated to effective mentoring relationships.


What will be covered?

  •  The Learning Mentor, the Mentor and the Coach
  • Exploring Mentor-Mentee Identities
  • Becoming Trauma Responsive
  • Developing your mentoring kit
  • The Hardest to Reach vs The Unmentorable [sic]
  • Navigating Safeguarding
  • The Mentor – Parent – Teacher relationship

What will you take away from this session?

  • Tried and tested coaching tools
  • Honest and frank discussions
  • Reading list

Who will benefit?

This webinar will be ideal for behaviour and learning mentors, primary and secondary teachers and TA’s, LSA’s, NQTs


When will the event take place?


Date: Tuesday 19 February 2019
 5:00pm – 5:45pm
Location: Online

Click here to book your free place now.


Speaker Profile: Elaine Thomas

Elaine is dedicated to improving the quality of youth mentoring and youth engagement. For over 18 years, Elaine has been mentoring and guiding young people from both the hard to reach and affluent backgrounds.
As the lead consultant of The Mentoring Lab, Elaine offers her knowledge and expertise in youth mentoring to help others build the highest standard mentoring and engagement programmes.
Elaine is the Opogo community expert working with young people and adults to prevent underachievement in their learning or careers.

Email in School – Helpful or a Menace to Workload?

Electronic mail or email was invented in the late 1960s to mid-1970s. Originally invented to help us communicate better, today you would be forgiven for thinking that emails are unhelpful and a workload burden.

In 1993, I recall sitting alongside my head of Department, observing him pulling up a wooden stool, perched in front of a PC like a meerkat, working on a makeshift desk inside a woodwork-store-come-office; happily satisfied to be typing an email to another colleague who worked in the same building.

Sending a message electronically was quite the revolution at the time, particularly in schools. Gone was the need to walk to the staffroom and post a memo in 30 or 40 different pigeonholes.

Hand email tablet

One email now did the same job and I remember him feeling quite smug about the fact that he no longer needed to waste time chasing colleagues or bumping into the grumpy deputy headteacher who may give him another job to do, or remind them about all the ones that we hadn’t yet completed.

Such is the life of those who choose to work in schools, as a new teacher I looked on with a sense of wonder.

Email Research

Fast forward 30 years and today, with the outburst of social media, mobile devices in everyone’s hands and applications with notifications 24/7,  you can start to get a sense of why so many human beings are wishing to disconnect.

Time and time again, research into teacher recruitment and retention sites that teachers, working in independent and state schools in England are working in excess of 50 to 55 hours per week just to keep up with the day job. With most full-time teachers tied into the classroom to deliver 20 hours of teaching per week, and with an endless pile of marking, assessments and lesson planning to do, trying to keep on top of an endless supply of email messages, as well as communicate or answer countless questions or poorly-worded messages, is it any wonder that we are all cracking up?

Over the last five years, I have conducted research into my email behaviours have started to see how I could optimise the way in which I work. Aside from the obvious responses to emails on my personal devices, I started to think about how I close tackle my ‘inbox’ with automated messages, delay delivery, or simply stating a period of the day in which I would or would not read or reply to emails.

Hand email


Want to read more?

Open up the Opogo App or click here to download the Opogo app on the App Store.

Alternatively click here to download the Opogo app for android.