How to Develop a School Coaching Culture

There seems to be a lot of buzz around coaching at the moment and for good reason. Coaching is a great tool for getting the best out of others and in the school environment can complement a wide range of people management processes.
When we think about developing a coaching culture we need to begin by developing a clear picture of what might be the hallmarks of a school where coaching is an integral part of the school’s processes.
From my experience schools with a strong coaching culture have the following hallmarks:
– Individuals are solution focused when problems arise
– Individuals have a strong sense of self-advocacy
– Questions are used insightfully and as a way to progress conversations
– Individuals take ownership of their own professional development
– Coaching models and techniques are used to inform the appraisal process, lesson observation feedback and other performance management processes
– Risk taking is encouraged
– There are high levels of professional trust
If you are in the early stages of considering how to develop a coaching culture in your school, one of the key questions that you might simply be asking yourself is, “Where do I begin?’
In response to this question, one of the best places to begin, is by simply taking a snapshot of where your school is at and identifying where you want to get to.
According to Organisational Coach David Clutterbuck, there are four levels of development in creating a coaching culture and it can be helpful to identify what stage your school is currently at.

Where are you now?

Have a look at the stages below and ask yourself or perhaps work with members of your SLT to answer the following questions:
1. What stage do we think we are at and why?
2. What stage do we want to get to and how will we know when we have reached that stage?
3. What key steps can we take to get us from where we are now to where we want to be?

Stage 1 – Nascent (embryonic)

Coaching happens without reference to strategy and process, it is haphazard and top managers are not role models. In this stage coaching is used to correct poor performance.

Stage 2 – Tactical

The value of establishing a coaching culture is recognised, and coaching is referred to in strategy documents. In this stage coaching is used to contribute to the performance of everyone in the organisation.

Stage 3 – Strategic

People have the confidence to use coaching approaches in a wide range of situations and managers are measured on the effects of their coaching. In this stage coaching is used as the main driver of performance.

Stage 4  – Embedded

Key organisation performance measure includes coaching outputs. In this stage coaching happens formally and informally and is the way of performance managing individuals, teams, and the organisation.
Once you have identified where your school is at and where you want to get to, you will then need to turn your attention to two foundational areas before developing and implementing your coaching plan.

1. Organisational Norms

Organisational norms are the patterns of behaviour and ways that individuals relate to one another that help to create a schools’ culture. Some of these norms will support the development of a coaching culture, others will inhibit them.
Identifying what these norms are within your own school context will help you to identify how ready your school is for embracing coaching as a tool for supporting the growth and development of others.
In identifying what your school’s norms are, you may find it helpful to reflect on:
– Levels of engagement at staff meetings
– Approaches to learning and development for adults
– Types of reflective dialogue and reflection on practice
– Teacher responses to lesson observations/teaching and learning reviews
With all of the above you are seeking to identify the human response – both good and bad. Doing so will help you to identify the predominate norms within your school and the degree to which they will support the development of a coaching culture.

2. Stakeholder Expectations

Those who will be involved in the coaching process will have a range of thoughts and ideas as to what to expect. Their expectations will vary dependent on their own backgrounds, knowledge of coaching, levels of confidence in their own roles etc. It is important prior to implementing any coaching programme to get their thoughts, fears, hopes and expectations out onto the open.
Either individually or in groups ask them…
– What knowledge do they have of coaching?
– What are their hopes?
– What are their concerns?
– How can their concerns be addressed?
– What will be the benefits to them when their concerns are addressed?
Asking these questions at the start of the process will help to minimise resistance to change and ensure that there is a greater sense of ownership when the coaching plan is devised and implemented.
Once these foundations have been explored and solutions found to ensure that there is a stable approach to developing a coaching culture, then the learning and development of coaching skills can begin.
Individuals can be provided with a range of opportunities to not only learn about coaching, but to apply their skills within their normal day to day routines. As the skills are applied, individuals can be supported to identify how they are contributing to the development of a coaching culture in which all members of the school community are actively supported to succeed.


Taking the First Steps…


If you would like to begin to develop a coaching culture across your school, then ensure you don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of our 4 Day Coaching Programme.

The Programme (which is approved by the Institute of Leadership and Management) will provide Senior School Leaders with all the know-how and confidence needed to effectively utilise coaching as a powerful part of their roles and help them to implement coaching across their school.

It will also equip you with a new set of skills that can help you to…

– Manage difficult conversations successfully

– Understand how to get the best out of different members within your team

– Facilitate better teamwork and minimise team conflict

– Develop nurturing positive, effective and supportive school relationships

–  Understand yourself better, so that you can fully utilise your strengths in your role


Once you have completed the programme, you will come away with:

– A solid understanding of coaching and how it can be used to strengthen your ability to lead and manage others, in your school context

– The coaching skills required for managing a range of personality types

– The confidence to use your coaching skills to support school improvement initiatives

So if you would like to be a part of the next cohort, then reserve a place or book a call with the programme facilitator, Viv Grant today.

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