I believe coaching should be at the heart of school improvement. It has been at the forefront of many business organisations for decades, yet the education sector is slower on the uptake.
Leadership, coaching and staff/student wellbeing. To me, the three are intrinsically linked. The best leaders coach their team members; inspiring, challenging and empowering them to be the best they can be whilst looking out for their wellbeing. Effective leaders, leads to more effective teachers, which ultimately leads to better student outcomes.
So, what are the top 5 benefits of introducing coaching in schools?
Cost-Effective: Coaching costs less than formal training and can have a culture change that is long-lasting. Training your teams in coaching skills can lead to a culture of continual improvement. Seeking support and a developmental attitude to roles can lead to a self-sustaining culture of professional development, which has an impact on school improvement and learner achievement.
Succession Planning/Building Capacity: When leaders are coaching their team, they get to know their strengths and challenges. They can work with them to develop necessary skills for their team members' career progression and that of their organisation. If staff are empowered to become more independent, there's an opportunity to delegate more. From my own experience of being a team leader, coaching was a part of my leadership repertoire. I nurtured key leadership skills in individuals within my team. As they grew in confidence, I was able to delegate, taking the pressure off myself and building capacity within the team. Ultimately, this contributed to succession planning within the organisation as many members of my team became leaders and one member of the team was promoted to the my equivalent role at another school within the Multi-Academy Trust. This is something, I'm very proud of to this day.
Retention: The statistics are stark. Every year 10% of teachers are leaving the profession. About a third of NQTs leave within 5 years (government statistics cited in teachers.org) We also have a brain drain of women leaving due to having children or soon after having children. Why is this happening is for another blog! But to summarise, in my opinion, some of the contributing factors are the workload, the lack of work-life balance, too much pressure, the culture of targets, good teachers being promoted without a support mechanism in place. .... Also, teachers that are not performing as well as they could be are being put under a great deal of scrutiny to perform and crumble under the pressure. These are to name but a few. So how can coaching help? It has been proven in many reports that introducing coaching into an organisation can boost staff morale and have an impact on wellbeing. When I think about when I felt most appreciated as an employee, it was when I was in a school that supported my professional development and I was supported to reach my performance management targets through internal or external means. Quite often a member of staff is put under a great deal of pressure to perform in three observations throughout the year that affects their performance management. I know a number of fantastic teachers that were terrified of this process and either refused to be observed, underperformed or completely shut down. If we are developing a coaching culture in our schools, then teaching and learning becomes a less judgemental process. If the member of staff had a peer coach that is looking at one area of their teaching practice and supporting them to be more effective in that area, that is far less pressure than a completely superficial and often subjective judgement of a 'one lesson only' approach to monitoring teaching & learning. Thus, it is natural for employees to be more loyal & motivated when their bosses take time to help them improve their skills.
Recruitment: Coaching demonstrates how invested you are as an employer in professional and/or career development. Recently, I saw a local job advert. It caught my eye as it mentioned coaching. It didn't just give it lip service. It talked about how they’ll use coaching to invest in you as an employee, to support you on your journey to deputy headship. It was clear it was part of the culture of this school. And it was exciting to read. So exciting that I was tempted to apply! Wouldn't it be fantastic to work somewhere that invested in you as an individual, invests in staff as a whole and essentially has an impact on the whole teaching profession?? Ultimately, it sets you apart and makes you more competitive as an employer hiring from the ever-decreasing talent pool.
Student Outcomes: Used as part of the Teaching & Learning plan, coaching can develop a culture where staff share their practice and learn from each other in an atmosphere of trust, structured professional dialogue and collaboration. It can thus lead to more effective teachers and ultimately have an impact on student outcomes. As a senior leader and recently as a consultant, when I have introduced a coaching culture into schools, it has led to dramatic improvements in teaching & learning. When lesson observations become less threatening and instead become developmental, learning is more likely to occur for both the teachers and students. Training teachers in coaching skills, can also raise the professionalism within an organisation. Teachers are able to have professional discussions with more confidence using the skills of coaching.
In essence, coaching can improve individual self-confidence, relationships between colleagues and overall team effectiveness - all of which will have an impact on school improvement and student outcomes.
I am proud to say my coaching training courses have been endorsed by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) - the leading provider of leadership programmes in the UK. This demonstrates the following courses are developed to the highest standards of content and quality.
Course 1: An Introduction to Coaching Skills (One day) https://www.malcpd.com/course1
Course 2: Essential Coaching Skills for School Leaders (Two day) https://www.malcpd.com/course2
Course 3: Introduce, Embed & Sustain a Coaching Culture (Minimum three terms) https://www.malcpd.com/course3
Call now to discuss your organisation's requirements:
Tel: 07810512315 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mal is an Education Consultant and Executive Coach specialising in leadership development, coaching in schools and SMSC.
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