Coaching in Schools
The next step to outstanding teaching and learning
You are very clear about where the school is going and what you want in terms of success: really engaging teaching and learning, being delivered by teachers who are creative, responsive to change, collegiate when working with their peers, and who cater well for all ranges of pupil ability. The curriculum is varied, diverse, and current, and you have the support of ambitious middle leaders, a diligent admin team, and a proactive board of governors. Finally, your school is recognised and supported within its local community.
However, as someone with responsibility for achieving this success, you face many challenges. These were hard enough before Covid 19, but the new normal may become the routine for the foreseeable future.
The heart of the problem is an interesting area for discussion. The list of issues that teachers have to face on a day to day basis is considerable, such as limited PPA time, growth in the use of ICT, the need to implement behaviour management policies, being ever more accountable, individualised learning, the need to engage and motivate every pupil or student, parental expectations, etc. So, is the real problem ‘how to complete so many different tasks in a finite amount of time’?
Or is it the consequences of not being able to do so? Since every teacher signs up to do their very best in order to make a difference to every pupil or student they teach, is the real issue fear and anxiety about not being able to achieve to the standards required and expected. And of course, this standard is reflected in the school’s Ofsted Report.
In a Covid -19 environment, things just got harder.
So as a professional leader within education, these are some of the issues we know are hard to address. Individualised learning will continue to become more normal, certainly with the increased use of online learning programmes and AI. However, with the need to achieve high levels of attainment, the pressure to focus on the general curriculum is likely to take precedent.
It can be a challenge to ensure that your staff have the time to plan, prepare and deliver lessons that engage and motivate pupils with a wide range of interests in learning, and varying abilities, while at the same time consistently following the agreed discipline and behavioural policies.
We appreciate the lengths you go to help teachers cope with being answerable to more than one ‘person with authority’: department heads, pastoral leads, deputy heads with responsibilities for teaching and learning, SENCOs, parents, pupils and students who are much more likely to assert their rights, all put pressure on teachers to juggle multiple needs, and at times, conflicting interests.
And the demands on your time as you try to channel and rationalise your teacher’s time and energy resources don’t stop here…
As a member of a schools Leadership Team, you recognise the work load and work life balance demands on all of your staff, whatever their title, role or position. If ever there was a time for additional resources, running a school in a Covid -19 aware environment, is as good an example as any. The 4 grades of Ofsted inspection will always put pressure on you to not merely maintain, but to improve standards and quality of teaching. Since the financial restraints are going to be in place for some time, the challenge you face is to do more with the same level of resources is intense.
However, another way of looking at this problem is to recognise that many of the solutions to problems already exist in school; they may just not be as apparent as you would like them to be, as others have found out.
“I have been fortunate enough to work with Graham for almost two years on various school development and coaching projects. Graham helps me see things from a different perspective and has been instrumental in shifting my thinking and leadership style. As a result, the staff team on each of the three sites I lead has become a strong unit, working always for the best outcomes for every child and young person in the federation.”
Liz Hayward CEO
“I have worked professionally with Graham for over 5 years, his knowledge and understanding of coaching and mentoring as well as leadership and management has been outstanding. He is honest and trustworthy and is actively involved in accredited, CPD and apprenticeship programmes (level 2-5). Graham continually demonstrates his understanding of working with Local authorities as well as for the PV1 sector. He is professional, supportive and always willing to go the extra mile. He does not shy away from testing out new process, procedures, systems and delivery.”
Karen Shopland SCIL
“I’ve just received thanks from a member of staff for the comments I wrote on their appraisal. I normally wouldn’t have done this, thinking that I’d already made it clear in the discussion but decided to write something more detailed (because of things we talked about on her course). Just thought I would let you know another way your training is making a difference!”
“Working on my PDP and CPD has really made me focus on where I want to be and what I need to do to get there. I enjoyed looking at what I can do for my CPD and how it is now structured and planned, using ‘SMART’ objectives means it’s not unobtainable.”
Local Authority Service Manager
School Improvement and Development
Performance coaching within a school, is a confidential, impartial, and non – judgemental process, which we have used in schools like yours, enabling teachers to find suitable and realistic solutions to short- and medium-term teaching goals, issues or problems. In real terms, we have helped teaching staff take the necessary action to move forward and be more productive. One outcome has been a rise in their confidence levels and awareness of solutions, so that they can overcome the challenges they face within the school environment.
The potential for coaching in your school is huge, it can help address a number of significant issues:
- Changes to the school’s structure and status
- Staff shortages
- Staff feeling overwhelmed
- Staff making the most effective use of seemingly precious little time
- The need to develop best teaching practice through the processes of peer review and performance management
- The creation of a solution focused approach so that problems become solutions to be found
- Helping members of the wider leadership team facilitate the management of change
It will undoubtedly help schools who already have a coaching philosophy cope with the huge demands placed upon school life by the challenges of Covid-19
Why coaching supports School Improvement
We appreciate that you know working collaboratively represents best practice. However, even if you endorse this approach, you may have teachers who continue to work in isolation and the process often stops at the classroom door. By including the use of coaching within your school’s development plan, you stand to gain in several ways:
- If you are involved in Initial Teacher Training, the coaching process cements the translation of training into increased job performance within the classroom.
- You could enable NQTs to move into full time teaching on their own, secure in the knowledge they have support when they need it.
- By really embedding Peer coaching – you could ensure your staff help each other to improve practice and raise standards – it is effective since it stimulates a process of reflective feedback.
- By achieving learning at a micro level, you can focus on an action orientated process, which in turn helps establish a climate that supports collaborative self review and learning; particularly as far as individualised learning is concerned.
- Taking the initiative for ensuring a greater understanding of effective coaching can lead to many other aspects of school learning, such as within departmental ‘teams’, across different key stages, and between different levels of school management.
Once you have successfully developed the skills and methodology which underpin the coaching process, you will notice more open conversations which are capable of transforming a school into a professional learning community: a much-needed trait in a world influenced by Covid-19.
The implementation of an efficient and successful coaching programme as part of your school’s improvement process has its challenges. It requires staff with high quality interpersonal skills, a strong knowledge of the coaching process, with the skills and ability to build confidence, trust and respect, within a mutually supportive relationship.
Are you ready?
The use of coaching in schools has been extensively researched, and although the benefits are clear, there are many issues to be thought about. If you are considering setting up coaching within your school, or are thinking of revamping your existing coaching provision, you need a strong, clear, unambiguous starting point.
That is where we can help you in 3 easy steps
Step 1 – Complete our School Coaching Readiness questionnaire below. It will ensure a robust assessment of your school’s current capacity and situation.
Step 2 – We will then follow this up with an exploratory conversation, where we will use your report score as the basis for a discussion on your school’s strengths, and will consider ways to develop your all-round capability.
Step 3 – When you have agreed to move forward, we will help you draw up a development plan, and we will support you to walk the pathway to using coaching effectively in your school.