The Art of Being a Brilliant Primary Teacher

By: Stuart Spendlow , Andy Cope


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 126 x 198 mm
ISBN : 9781845909932
Format: Paperback
Published: October 2015

On a good day, being a primary school teacher is the best job in the world. However, in the interests of grounding The Art of Being a Brilliant Primary Teacher in pure realism, Andy Cope and Stuart Spendlow readily acknowledge that it can also be the worst. The purpose of this book is to help you have more amazing days by inspiring and challenging you to be the best version of you because, at your best, you’re flippin’ awesome!

Andy and Stuart use their experience, studies and ‘what if?’ moments combined with their ‘don’t judge us’ attempt at humour to bring you a fun, slightly provocative, thoughtful and motivational read. This book isn’t riddled with lectures and theories from old professors of centuries ago. While it may be true that teaching was easier in the ‘good old days’ we reckon those days are long gone so our focus is on the here and now of teaching. These new days require some refined thinking and this book is simply designed to help you to be a brilliant primary school teacher whatever the weather (including wet playtime).

Embrace the power of positive psychology, lift your happiness levels, discover tips and tricks to enhance your practice and get ready for some seriously brilliant primary teaching with this innovative, practical and positive guide. Andy and Stuart tell it like it is, without preaching. This is their light-hearted, thought-provoking take on modern primary teaching. For all primary teachers – from newly qualified teachers to senior leadership team members – who want to become, quite simply, brilliant.

Click here to view other titles in our successful Art of Being Brilliant series.

The Art of Being Brilliant series was a finalist in the 2017 Education Resources Awards in the Educational Book Award category.

Picture for author Stuart Spendlow

Stuart Spendlow

Stuart Spendlow loves challenging the norm, trying new things and constantly questioning his teaching practice. His philosophy, in teaching and in life, is that everything should be done to challenge, grow and inspire. He is also the author of Penguinpig an e-safety themed picture book for 5- to 7-year-olds.

Picture for author Andy Cope

Andy Cope

Andy Cope is the author of the famous Spy Dog books, a trainer and keynote speaker. He is an expert in positive psychology and happiness, which led him to develop The Art of Being Brilliant. This is delivered in various forms as workshops for businesses, conferences, teachers and teenagers. It has also informed the thinking behind his brilliant books.

Click here to listen in on Andy's podcast with Pivotal Education - 'Being Brilliant!'.


  1. In the world of education, nothing is easy. Indeed, year after year it seems to get harder, with more and more resources published declaring that they will help us to improve schools but rather just leave us feeling more and more inadequate. Therefore it was amazing to discover the Art of Being Brilliant resources, which enabled hard-working teachers and teaching assistants to focus on the important things in schools, using a clear, focused and fun approach. The Art of Being Brilliant series of books were a godsend to my busy workforce: letting them see how changing your mindset enables you to change your life and, more importantly, the lives of the children we are teaching. These resources have helped our school to develop a positive mindset and to recognise how everything that we do -˜creates the weather' in our classrooms. As a result of this attitude to learning, behaviour for learning and enjoyment of teaching has improved.

    It is important that teaching professionals, teaching assistants, and, most importantly, children recognise that they are brilliant in a world that can quickly become negative. By encouraging individuals to see their own brilliance we build resilience and enjoyment in education.

    I discovered these resources at the beginning of my headship three years ago and I credit much of the improvement in my school to the support they gave me, both through the authors' publications and consultancy. My school is located in a challenging area of the country where there is much deprivation and our school is the beacon of hope for our children. My staff recognise this and work to ensure that the difficulties the children face in their lives are addressed and that their impact is balanced with the successes they can achieve in school. To see them skipping into school each day, enthused by the challenges they face, is a joy to behold - and that is both staff and children. Brilliant!
  2. We have used the Art of Being Brilliant series to support and inspire both teaching and classroom support staff. It is the positive approach based on experience that strikes a chord and makes the difference.
  3. This series is hugely innovative and hundreds of copies have been purchased and raved about by both trainee and newly qualified teachers during our collaborative work with the authors' consultancy company, Decisive Element. The resource is hugely energising and a positive tool for new and experienced teachers that feel overwhelmed.

    The impact of these resources has been hugely positive on learning and the work of the teacher in the classroom; lots of our members have reported back how effective the tips and tricks learned are and how they have used the resources to combat behaviour issues in particular.

    The titles support and enhance the everyday life and work of teachers, pupils and schools by using tried-and-tested techniques that enable teachers to engage with pupils in a positive, understanding way which is at all times enjoyable!

    This resource is absolutely priceless and has helped hundreds of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' (ATL) members develop in their teaching practice!
  4. Many colleagues in my school have purchased copies of these titles, depending on their roles and responsibilities, and along with the support of the authors we have developed a positivity approach with our students, which has had a very positive impact on behaviour and results.

    However, I would like to comment specifically on what has happened in my department and how these books have helped during a major transition.

    The first and most important thing to point out is that these books are not textbooks. They're not stuffy or filled full of pedagogical theories and studies. Teachers and support staff are busy people with lots of pressures so it's a breath of fresh air to have books which are easy to read, are packed with tips and strategies that work and also lift the spirits with a few laughs. Because of this, they are both readable and useful. Some staff have dipped in to them when looking for new ideas, others have read them cover to cover. All have found them easy to read and engaging.

    There's a superb theme that runs through the books: that of relationships. I have used the ideas presented both within my teaching to get the best out of my students (The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher) and in leading my staff to collectively become an outstanding department commended highly by both Ofsted and Her Majesty's Inspectors during recent inspections (The Art of Being a Brilliant Middle Leader). The idea that we all have to try to be our best - ultimately for the benefit of our students - is a great theme for staff.

    What's key here is that these books are about the pupils, not the teachers or support staff. They might have roles in their titles, but it is very clear that by being brilliant at what you do - whatever your role - the school's pupils get a better deal, and that has enabled my staff to help our students achieve better outcomes. Behaviour and engagement in learning have been crucial areas to get right in our development as both a school and a department, and the tips and strategies given in this series of books have helped this process.

    As a leader I can spend hours talking to staff about the direction and vision I have for my department, however it also helps to have an extra voice; and in this case the voice is from two teachers and school leaders with huge experience (Gary Toward and Chris Henley). This, coupled with Andy Cope's positive psychology spin, really creates a recipe which helps me as a leader to get the best out of my staff. Great CPD and inspiration.

    I have recommended these books to colleagues in other schools and will continue to do so as they stand out for me as easily accessible and inspirational CPD. The fact that the books can be supported with additional programmes and strategies, both with teachers and students, adds that extra factor which really does make a difference for kids.
  5. I have immensely enjoyed reading the Art of Being Brilliant series: a fantastic set of resources for anyone working within the modern classroom. Engaging and challenging, these pocket-sized -˜bibles' distil decades of combined experience and expertise into manageable chunks of advice and direction. Written in a straightforward and relaxed style, the authors cut to the chase with practical illustrations and inspired suggestions to help classroom practitioners at all levels to -˜be brilliant'. Delivered with trademark humour and passion, I can't think of a better resource for teachers of all levels to turn to for creative ideas, intelligent and helpful challenges, and affirmation of the power of teachers to really -˜control the weather' in their classrooms and impact most effectively on the attitudes and learning of not just students but also colleagues. Indeed, many of our clients have bought these books and speak highly about how much they have helped them ... CPD in their pocket.

    These are everyday guides that can easily be dipped into with -˜top tips' and key messages communicated well both visually and regularly throughout the books. More than just a -˜back-to-basics' approach, there is real power in focusing on the small things that can have a massive impact on both teaching and learning. I have had the opportunity to experience the delivery of these ideas by the authors in practical workshop settings and have always been impressed with the power of the simple yet essential messages, the accessibility of the information, the unapologetic humour and, dare I say it, -˜fun' involved.

    A cost-effective resource that should enhance the everyday practice of anyone working within a classroom environment. At Hays we have bought hundreds of copies to give to our NQT clients as we know they will benefit so much from them.
  6. We have used the Art of Being Brilliant publications over the past few years at Glen Hills Primary School and Fairfield Primary School. Both teachers and classroom support staff have found the books inspirational - chiefly because they are realistic. They are written in an entertaining way but also deal with ways to enhance teaching and learning in practical situations.

    The books have real meaning in 21st century education and the impact that they have on classroom teaching, with the underlying message of motivating pupils, makes them a cost-effective and inspirational resource which both teachers and classroom support staff have taken on board.

    I know that the two schools where these books have been purchased for staff have benefited from the fresh and supportive approach that they advocate. This has helped maintain one school as -˜Outstanding' and raise the other from being at risk of being placed in -˜Serious Weaknesses' to an Ofsted grading of -˜Good'.
  7. This book will warm the hearts of the best teachers, it will stir those requiring improvement, challenge the ordinary and probably defeat the inadequate. Whatever, it's a store of positivity to treasure. I love the -˜In a nutshell' tasters and the -˜Thinking inside the box' er ... boxes. It's a happy, lucky-dip book of common-sense and creative ideas. As the unapologetically positive Stu and Andy say, -˜grab this book every now and then'. Teachers who have it close to hand will be inspired and, if they take the hints, be better for it.
  8. The Art of Being a Brilliant Primary Teacher is a welcome addition to the excellent Art of Being Brilliant series. The authors have drawn on their combined experiences to write an inspiring text full of stimulating ideas, quotes and cartoon illustrations which stimulate thought and reflection. The text is well structured and the -˜in a nutshell', -˜thinking inside the box' and -˜top tips' sections all promote excellent ideas on such issues getting realistic feedback from students on the impact of teaching, strategies to reduce stress and escaping the trap of feeling overworked. The authors stress the importance of you as the teacher -rather than technology, facilities etc. - because -˜children don't learn from people they don't like'. An excellent book for all teachers, particularly those caught in the trap of negativity and those seeking realistic new ideas to move their practice forward to brilliant.
  9. A book full of infectious enthusiasm that reminds us that humour is, in itself, a vital aspect of effective communication. A timely, upbeat work that acknowledges the fact that although teachers face huge challenges they can choose to focus on the many, many positives because the rewards are always greater.

    A book that clearly demonstrates why pupils respond to positive, rounded human beings with broad and varied lives. I was also glad to read about the ripple effect of happiness ... backed up with a well-chosen Bob Monkhouse gag.
  10. I have always believed that education should be about living, learning and laughing. That's why I love this book. Andy and Stuart will have you doing all three, brilliantly!
  11. The Art of Being a Brilliant Primary Teacher is, well, brilliant. A rare shining star in the galaxy of -˜improving teaching handbooks', it's written from experience and celebrates the brilliant job that is primary teaching whilst recognising that it is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding roles. And, perhaps most importantly, there is no tick box, formulaic approach to becoming -˜outstanding'. Hence, I guess, the title -˜The Art-¦'

    There are boxes though, and in a twist that reflects the authors' style, they are -˜thinking inside the box' boxes (you'll have to read the book to find out why). There are also amusing pictures, jokes, quips, anecdotes-¦

    Therein lies the brilliance of this book. There are some meaty concepts covered in 9 easy and fun to read chapters, reflecting the understanding of the value of a busy primary teacher's time. And on that note, you won't be doing more. In fact you may end up doing less but brilliant-er; the key here is that you will be making the changes, fundamental changes, based on internal reflection facilitated by Stu and Andy's humorously thought-provoking content, and not just attempting to apply some irrelevant one-size-fits-all solution.

    Deliberately written to provide to the point advice and provocation, this is a must-read. Not only is it a real passion stoker (professional and otherwise!) but it doesn't take much of your precious holiday time to read through. If you, or other teachers you know, are in need of rediscovering the art, the passion or the core reason that teaching was the chosen vocation, then this book is a must-read.

    There's little else to say really when Stu and Andy sum it up so much better than I can do: It's grounded in pure realism; it's self-challenging in that, when combined with a little bravery and risk taking, it will refresh your teaching until retirement day.

    Oh, and in the words of Stu and Andy, -˜if you -˜get it' then you will sense a whirring of something somewhere within ... If you don't -˜get it' there will be no whirring and you will feel slightly irritated by squandering yet another tenner on a book that doesn't work.'

    What have you got to lose? Apart from another tenner maybe.
  12. What a gem of a book! I loved it. Written in a conversational style, it is witty, pertinent and challenging. I laughed out loud in places and will recommend it to my teacher friends.

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