Category Archives: Podcast

Give Yourself Permission To Be Playful at Christmas – and At Any Time! Gavin Oattes – PP246

Gavin is a truly motivational speaker. His inspiration for what he does comes from where he started out his career—primary school teaching. He is a firm believer that we as adults can be every bit as inspired by young children as they can by us grown-ups. Gavin transports his audience back to when they were just 5 years of age, a time when we feared nothing and embraced everything. You will laugh, you will cry, you will feel and you will never eat broccoli in the same way again!

Over the past decade, delivering on themes such as Leadership, Engagement, High Performing Teams and Creativity, Gavin has inspired literally hundreds of thousands of people to rediscover and embrace “that wee piece of magic”. Gavin is now regarded as one of the most talented and sought after speakers in the world.

This week, Tara Elie speaks to Gavin about how adults need to be more like children and how we should all give ourselves permission to play and enjoy life.

He offers suggestions for teachers on how to remain sane at Christmas with their classes and also reads his favourite book – you might be surprised to hear what it is!

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Kirstie Mackey – Barclays Life Skills – for life! PP244

This week, Mark talks to Kirstie Mackey from Barclays Life Skills which provides:

Tool tips and learning resources for you to help yourself or to support you in the development of others

Life Skills logo

For students, educators and parents, the scheme provides City and Guilds approved activities and resources covering a huge range of work/life topics. contains an enormous range of help for student and Mark has very positive memories of working with the scheme when he was headteacher of a Pupil Referral Unit.

Kirstie Mackey

In 2013, Kirstie created and launched LifeSkills. From teaching CV writing skills in classrooms to hiring people for her various teams, Kirstie has years of experience in knowing what employers are looking for and how to get ahead in your chosen career. As well as heading up LifeSkills, Kirstie is a champion for young people and is leading the call for businesses to support young people get work ready.

In her role as Head of LifeSkills, Kirstie is also a contributor to publications such as Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

Listen to the whole, fascinating story of how Kirstie founded and developed the scheme and find out a little bit about the amazing range of activities which are on offer – free of charge!

Technology in the Maths Classroom – helpful or harmful? PP243

This week, Tara speaks to three guests about Maths in the classroom and how technology can help or hinder learning.

Dr Christian Salas (below centre) is a Maths Lecturer from Waltham Forest College, Stephen Farmer (below left), is Headteacher at Cranbrook Education Campus and Dan Sandhu (below right), is from Sparx Maths.

The conversation goes into depth about the Sparx Maths system and its benefits to schools like Stephen’s and Christian presents a slightly different point of view!

As a socially focussed learning technology company, Sparx has spent the last 8 years reimagining the way maths is taught and learnt in schools. Our aim is to improve numeracy, and therefore life opportunities, for over 5 million learners by 2030.

The result is not a short-term, off-the-shelf software product – it is a personalised approach to learning based on strategies that are founded in pedagogy and on the world class maths content that sets us apart. Underpinned by our sophisticated, adaptive technology platform and high levels of support, Sparx not only delivers progress and increases attainment in maths, it is also the catalyst for transformational change in many of our schools.

So what do you think? Is technology beneficial in subjects like maths, is it all just a way to ensure non-specialist teachers can teach maths or is it something different? What’s your experience of using technology in the classroom – Maths or any other?

Behaviour Problems in England with Mary Meredith PP242

Behaviour Problems in England with Mary Meredith PP242
Mary is Head of Inclusion at Lincolnshire County Council

This week, Mark speaks to Mary Meredith, Head of Inclusion at Lincolnshire County Council.

In an engrossing and detailed conversation, they cover many different areas of behaviour in English schools – what’s going well, what’s going badly and what should happen in the future.

Mary’s in-depth knowledge of research combined with her enormous personal, practical experience of education make this episode a must-listen for anyone who is serious about changing the nation’s attitude towards behaviour management for the benefit of every learner and young person.

It’s packed with evidence-based ideas, strategies and advice for teachers – and government.

Visit Mary’s blog

Do you think vlogger Blair Minchin is ‘bad’? PP241

Blair Minchin
Blair Minchin

This week, Kevin and Ollie speak to the talented Blair Minchin, a primary school teacher based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Blair has been teaching for 5 years, having previously worked in law, practising in commercial litigation.

He says he ADORES his job and has a real passion for developing pupil voice inside the classroom and out. He is currently leading a whole school sport house initiative aimed at developing a love of exercise and team sports across his school. Blair is also currently taking part in a practitioner enquiry into outdoor learning in Numeracy.

Blair is a very keen vlogger but the feedback he receives isn’t always positive…

Instagram: Mr_Minchin
Twitter: Mr_Minchin

Mark Bocker – from Head of PE to Pivotal Principal Trainer – PP240

Mark Bocker: Principal Trainer
Mark Bocker: Principal Trainer

Mark has 37+ years’ experience in special, PRU and mainstream education; most recently as a headteacher of a small specialist (ASD/SEMH) residental school and a headteacher of a large pupil referral unit (PRU). Prior to headship, Mark also held positions including Director of Inclusion; Lead Behaviour Professional, Senior Teacher, Head of PE and Classroom Teacher.

Mark has experienced and led through many Ofsted and HMI Inspections gaining excellent judgements with reference to leadership, intervention programmes and schools support. He has achieved recognition for outstanding support of children in Local Authority Care (Ofsted) and inclusion strategies, including significant success in reducing exclusions. He has designed, written and delivered a variety of courses on topics including Safeguarding, Mental Health, Behaviour and Restorative Practice, as well as contributed to delivering the British Council Connecting Classrooms programme.

Mark believes schools should provide life-affirming experiences for children, and that their carers and we as professionals and skilled trainers should enable and empower them to realise their aspirations. Mark feels this goal is reflected in the aims and values of Pivotal Education, and are closely aligned to his own. When offered the opportunity to join the Pivotal team, Mark did not hesitate!

Mark has recently become pro bono Chair of Members of the Formby High School Academy Trust, and holds several accredited memberships, including the Restorative Justice Council.

In this episode, Mark shares three of the Pivotal Podcast episodes which have affected him and tells the stories behind his choices.

Innovation is the name of the game – with David Miller PP239

David Miller, Kelvinside Academy
David Miller, Kelvinside Academy

Tara Ellie enjoyed speaking to David Miller this week. David is from Glasgow’s Kelvinside Academy which opened Scotland’s School of Innovation, the first of its kind in the UK, in September 2019.

“This is a must for Scotland if it is to continue to punch above its weight in the global economy during these challenging times. We truly believe we can and will transform education in the United Kingdom. We live in a rapidly changing world and schools need to provide an education which prepares young people to look at things differently.”
David Miller

Based on an architecture studio model, learning in the new innovation school is focussed on real-world challenges and collaborative problem-solving, rather than exams and results. Kelvinside has an exclusive partnership with the world’s leading innovation school NuVu – Boston-based education pioneers who are at the forefront of creative learning in the US.  Together, both organisations are working to challenge the boundaries of traditional education.

Kelvinside Academy pupils are already benefiting from this partnership, with S4 and S5 pupil teams shadowing Balfour Beatty’s construction and design teams, learning from industry experts from the global construction giant, attending meetings, and providing feedback and input.

Kelvinside Academy is constantly challenging the concept of the traditional education system and pupils are already going off curriculum for two weeks at a time to follow fluid programmes guided by James Addison, the school’s full-time Fellowfrom NuVu, the world’s leading innovation school.

Website of the School of Innovation

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We’re delighted to announce that Holte School, Birmingham, has been featured in the new parliamentary review as a model of best practice! You can read the article here: <a href=""></a> <a href="">@holte_school</a> <a href="">@CPI_Europe</a></p>— Pivotal Education (@PivotalEd) <a href="">September 20, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Phonics Fun in the Jungle! PP238

In a great fun episode this week, Tara meets ‘The Jungle Master’ and ‘Kiosk Keef’ AKA Chris and Lewis from Hillcrest Early Years Academy in Lincolnshire.

The Jungle Master, Keef and friends

Chris and Lewis are both Key Stage 1 teachers and they make what they describe as ‘fun phonics videos’. The origins of the approach were in a whole-school phonics focus which promoted the fun and love of phonics in the school by introducing the concept of The Jungle Master who had to take part in the spelling challenges in the events called ‘I’m A Celebrity – Spell Me Out Of Here!’

In order to help the children further, The Jungle Master and Keef took to YouTube to create fun videos to cover as much of the phonics curriculum as possible. You can see the results below and feel free to use the videos in your own teaching!

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Why Design is crucial for humanity – PP237

Supporting the National Curriculum for Design and Technology and tailored for key stages 2, 3, 4 and 5, the Design Museum offers students and educators world class design education facilities supporting a vibrant and relevant programme connected with the wider ecology of design practice, networks and communities.

This week Tara speaks to Sevra Davis and Sebastian Conran about the educational work of The Design Museum and the importance of design in the present school curriculum and how it can help all of humanity to solve its problems and make everyone’s lives better.

The Design Museum is a campus for design education in the twenty first century, harnessing the potential of design to tackle the challenges of today’s complex world from local to global.

Reading? There’s an app for that – Poio with Daniel Senn PP236

Daniel Senn

In our first episode for the new academic year, Tara speaks to Daniel Senn whose background and skills helped him to invent a new reading app called Poio which has helped more than 100,000 children aged 3-8 crack the reading code!

Daniel also shares his research and views on the role of fun in education.

Daniel is the dad and educator behind the learn-to-read game, Poio.

Six years ago, he embarked on a journey of trying to help his own son learn how to read. He was born with a severe hearing problem and Daniel was told that he would need extra assistance to keep up with other kids. However, experts also told him that motivating young children to practise reading is very hard, and that adults who push the learning early on often make matters worse, resulting in negative learning spirals and a loss of confidence.

So together, Daniel and his family engaged in a fun project to crack the reading code through play, where his son’s ideas were the main inspiration to the method that is now called Poio. A game that is able to help all kinds of children learn how to read, whether they are learning at a regular pace, are struggling with the process, or are gifted.

Daniel says:

” Now The Poio Method has gone beyond helping my son, Leon, and our family. I have worked closely with a committed group of game developers, scientists and educationalists to make Poio what it is today. And in just a short period of time, we have helped more than 100,000 children across Scandinavia crack the reading code. I can hardly believe it, and feel so proud of what our team has achieved. Still, there is always more to do, and we’re only just getting started!

In light of Poio’s success, our goal is to help even more children learn how to read. By joining forces with the EdTech company Kahoot! this spring, we are now able to bring Poio to a global audience quicker through a newly developed English version.
The UK edition of Poio is now available from the App Store and Google Play. The US edition will be available soon! Sign up to get notified.”

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