How do you ensure successful School Improvement?
Change within education has been a constant in recent years; with on-going changes in school structures and the development of technology, it will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
The challenge facing headteachers is not just school improvement, it is management of change. Key issues you are probably addressing are:
- 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 process of performance management
- The creation of a solution focused approach so that problems become solutions to be found
- How to help members of the wider leadership team facilitate the management of change
Why coaching supports School Improvement
Working collaboratively represents best practice. However, even in schools that endorse the idea of collaboration, many teachers in schools continue to work in isolation and the process often stops at the classroom door. Within the school environment the inclusion of coaching within the school’s development plan can be used in several different ways:
- The coaching process cements the translation of training into increased job performance within the classroom.
- Peer coaching – teachers helping each other to improve practice and raise standards – is effective since it stimulates a process of reflective feedback.
- Learning at a micro level focuses on an action orientated process, which in turn helps establish a climate that supports collaborative self review and learning.
- Greater understanding of effective coaching can enhance many other aspects of school learning, such as within departmental ‘teams’, across different key stages, and between different levels of school management.
The skills and methodology which underpin the coaching process lead to more open conversations capable of transforming a school into a professional learning community.
However, the implementation of an efficient and successful coaching programme as part of the school improvement process has its challenges. It requires staff with high quality interpersonal skills, with the ability to build confidence, trust and respect, within a mutually supportive relationship.
The importance of teachers providing support is reflected in the current teaching standards, particularly for those looking to provide evidence to move through threshold levels.
Case study evidence shows that a lack of a structure to the development and deployment of coaching leads to failure, disillusionment and a lack of commitment to the process.
Accessing coaching courses through accredited bodies such as the ILM, not only provides a level of quality assurance, but also the freedom to structure the content to meet a school’s individual needs. Developing a school’s internal coaching capacity, and learning on site with committed practitioners, ensures peer regulated performance and adherence to quality standards.
Well-structured and professionally delivered on site coach training provides a safe, rewarding and solution focused approach to development with many specific benefits:
- Empowering process: structured ‘conversations with experienced teaching colleagues will enhance confidence and self-esteem through the process of mutual support.
- Developing skills and knowledge in support of peers can translate directly from teacher learning to pupil learning in the classroom, with the consequential rise in levels of achievement and attainment.
- A move away from professional development being seen as externally imposed, to one where teachers take ownership of their own growth and development.
- Within the context of the Ofsted report, it represents an opportunity to demonstrate how school leadership is supporting the development of staff