Case Study - How we implemented a coaching culture in our school
How can you implement a culture of coaching in schools? And what different does it make really? Deputy Headteacher at The Chantry School, Nicola Clear tells us more.
So why coaching?
I’d been thinking about the possibility of introducing a coaching programme into my school for a while when I first received a flyer from South Bromsgrove High Teaching School, advertising their coaching course and this got my brain whirring! I had a bit of coaching in my background, as I had previously completed some training myself, and understood the value and impact it could bring to the school.
The big problem I had was budget. I knew I wanted to offer this to as many staff as I could, but couldn’t afford to send them all off site for the training. The cover and travel costs were ridiculous! I contacted SBHTS about what I was looking for and we arranged for a bespoke on-site training session that suited us as a school, and at a price that was within my training budget. Once we had a date in the diary, we were off!
Communicating to staff
I wanted to make this as inclusive to staff from all walks of school life and experience and sent out an initial whole school email explaining what the training was but also outlining what the commitment was for signing up and what we expected in return. We got a really positive response from staff and I had to increase the number of places from 16 to 20 to accommodate everyone who was interested.
Ensuring the Impact
I didn’t want the training day to be a ‘one off’ training course that staff enjoyed but quickly forgot about. I wanted to ensure that the skills they learnt were implemented practically throughout the whole school year and actively used in peer reviews and lesson observations. I also wanted to make sure that the process was as paperwork free as possible and staff were able to fit this into their normal working day and it wasn’t impacting their ‘free’ lessons.
I also created a ‘Coaching Together’ booklet as a guideline for staff to refer to throughout the year. This gave them summaries of the principles of coaching and the kinds of questioning they could use.
Here are a couple of example pages from the booklet:
What we expected from staff
- Commitment to the full day on-site training – off time table during the school day
- To ‘partner-up’ with a member of staff from a different department and observe each other for only 15 minutes each week with a follow up coaching style feedback session lasting no longer than 10 minutes
- Observations were to be focused on a particular subject to ‘fine tune’ their practice. This could be chosen by the observer or the observee
- The observations to be run for a full school year with termly feedback to SLT on how it was going and what they were getting out of the process
So what was the outcome?
The initial 1-day coaching course went down extremely well with staff and we received some fantastic feedback from staff. But what has been the most valuable aspect of the training has been the way in which staff have continued to use their coaching principles throughout the year in the weekly lesson observations. Staff have really valued the whole process and from my point of view, I can see that a culture of coaching has really opened up dialogue between participating staff and we are much more open and collaborative. We are planning to continue to use coaching principals in our whole school CPD and are already booking more training for next year!
Nicola Clear – The Chantry School
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