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Pivotal Education Training with Ellie Dix – PP49

The topic of the week is Pivotal Education Training with Ellie Dix.


It was great to welcome Ellie Dix onto the podcast this week. Ellie is the Training Manager of Pivotal Education and, along with Paul, she talked about the origins of the company, what Pivotal offers today and some very exciting plans for the future.

To begin, Paul got to answer himself the question we have asked many guests on the podcast – why did he leave the classroom? He felt that he was having a really solid impact in his school but he wanted to say something on a wider scale. At that time the only way to do that was to leave his school and start visiting others.

At the time he didn’t have responsibilities like children so it was the right time to embark on this new venture. It was a ‘Pivotal’ moment.

Originally, Paul set up with a colleague, Joe, and they started off doing a lot of street theatre alongside work in schools. Joe moved into performance rather than training work but Paul was still committed to developing his training role in the UK.

EllieDixEllie and Paul sat down in the pre-social media era of 2004 to see how they could develop what they offered in behaviour management, above and beyond the existing national programmes. They did a lot of knocking on doors and turning up at local meetings in those days as well as a lot of mailing information to schools.

Ellie says that one of the key factors in the Pivotal Education approach is that they give a lot of resources away for free, including the podcast! The free tips emails have been running since 2008 and there are many teachers who have enjoyed receiving those for years. Nearly 15,000 educators receive the Pivotal behaviour tips every week. Ellie has heard of the tips appearing on staff notice boards, on the back of staff toilet doors and even on pay slips!

Individual teachers who need help, don’t have to pay for it

The training needs of teachers and therefore what Pivotal have offered has changed a great deal over the years. Schools used to rely on the one-off INSET day and Pivotal still delivers these but now this is not the only model on offer. Pivotal online courses, which allow a more self-paced approach and can be accessed either from school or from home, have attracted 4,000 educators. Paul and Ellie have found that online courses have been widely welcomed, especially as Pivotal’s approach has been to try and replicate its outstanding live training in an online form. This means there is a real variety of activity, for example.

I didn’t think I was going to learn anything from this course but I was wrong – thank you!

Ellie goes on to describe the most exciting new development – The Pivotal Curriculum for Behaviour and Safety. In this model, a school decides to train one member of staff as an instructor intensely over a residential weekend with Paul and other Pivotal trainers. This member of staff then goes back into school and is supported throughout the year via webinars, e-mentoring from a senior Pivotal trainers and access to an online forum where they can continue the discussion with the same group they trained with.

The instructor is then able to deliver 5 Pivotal training packages to their school. In this way, the model fits in without disruption to the school. There is advanced instructor training available and yearly update training for all instructors.

Training is available regularly throughout the year and Paul points out that some teachers are coming from abroad to attend the first one.

This is a sustainable model of training which can be embedded in a school or college. The annual ‘top-up’ of training in behaviour and safeguarding is an essential element of continuing improvement and professional development for staff.

Ellie and Paul describe how Pivotal Education is expanding into Australia and other countries next year. Ellie is visiting Sydney and Melbouurne in March 2015 and is happy to meet up with anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Pivotal Curriculum.

Find out more at the dedicated website or by emailing 

Listen to the Tweet of the Week on the episode!

This week it’s from an Ofsted inspector.

Win a Prize from Pivotal Education on the Pivotal Podcast!

Paul announces a competition involving the Pivotal Podcast theme tune. Listen to the whole of the theme on the end of this week’s episode and then tweet @PivotalPaul with the answer to this question:

What film is sampled in the Pivotal Podcast theme tune?

(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –

What would you like to hear covered in forthcoming episodes? Let us know by emailing or by leaving a comment below this post.

Get involved:

Appear on the podcast yourself by sending in a comment or question via either of the two answerphone hotlines:

Telephone Hotline Telephone Hotline – 0844 579 6949, Mailbox number 23161 Microphone Computer Hotline (SpeakPipe

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