Coaching & Leadership Development
How Coaching supports School Performance

How Coaching supports School Performance

  This blog comes from the Executive Headteacher of two large primary schools in the London Borough of Redbridge, Kulvarn Atwal The easiest way to understand coaching is to consider it as an activity that enables you to explore a challenging aspect of your practice, something that you would like to improve, in greater detail. Coaching skills cannot be developed through a one-day course; they have to be nurtured over time.Through ongoing engagement in coaching, teachers develop both an understanding of the model and an awareness of how to use it to develop themselves and team members. As a school leader, I have seen the significant positive impact on staff and children working at the centre of a team of teachers who are now experienced coaches. The benefits are myriad, with boosts to professional learning, staff self-assessment and reflection, building of relational trust, improving communication with children and parents, and developing the emotional climate across the school. It enables teachers to understand exactly where they are in their learning, where they need to get to and how best to get there. (Indeed, that is the etymology of the word “coach” in this sense: a tutor who transports (as in a coach and horses) a student to greater understanding.) Schools are places of continual change and that – hopefully – means continual improvement. In recent years, the expected standards for children at each key stage in primary schools have been raised considerably. In order to respond to these, the thinking school requires teachers who are not fixed in their thinking and are open to continual individual and collective development. For us to achieve, we need...
4 Things than can Hinder School Improvement

4 Things than can Hinder School Improvement

  There are many challenges to bringing a School Development Plan (SDP) to life and ensuring that priorities are owned and meticulously followed through by all relevant parties.   It’s easy to understand, how within the busyness of school-life, many can mistakenly assume, that a well written SDP, backed up with numerous sets of data will secure a school’s progress and increase levels of performance.   If that were true, many a school leader would find the whole task of school improvement relatively easy. They’d never worry, ruminate over errors made or worry about the next OFSTED visit. They’d just write the SDP, give it to others to read and feel safe in the knowledge that teachers would complete every action detailed within the plan and improvements would follow in simple, predictable, sequential steps. But… we know, schools are busy places and life in schools just isn’t like that!   Senior school leaders know this and recognise that they have a critical role to play in the execution of the SDP and how it is received by others. Those that fare well are aware of how their actions can either hinder or facilitate school improvement. Their self-awareness is such that their skill in managing inter-personal relationships becomes a key determinant for the degree to which staff engage with the school’s priorities for improvement and their own roles and responsibilities.   In essence, they know that success very much depends on them not doing four of these key things when leading and managing others…   1. Being ambiguous about expectations   Individuals like to know where they stand. Ambiguity over...
The Coaching Leadership Style – the Pros and Cons

The Coaching Leadership Style – the Pros and Cons

  As a school leader you will no doubt, have a vast array of knowledge about leadership styles and how and when to deploy them.   We all know context is everything and there is no point adopting a democratic leadership style, when the school fire alarm has gone off and the building needs to be evacuated immediately!   However, I never cease to be amazed when working with school leaders, that out of all the various leadership styles, the coaching leadership style is the one that most leaders appear to find the hardest to develop. There are a number of reasons as to why this is so…   1. The frenetic pace of the school life: The speed at which things need to happen, means that many a time you have to set a fast pace, to get things done. So, pace-setting and authoritative styles of leadership lend themselves quite naturally to the role.   2. Everyone needs to be on board the bus: Everyone has to be in alignment with the school’s vision and goals. A school’s trajectory will flounder if there is not a clear sense of purpose and direction. Visionary leaders know this and ensure that at key times through-out the school year, they adopt a Visionary style to keep everyone on the bus.   3. Relationships are the key to school improvement: School Improvement plans are not the key to a school’s success, relationships are. It is the relationships that school leaders form with their staff that are important. They determine the degree to which adults engage with the school’s priorities and the actions they...
How to Develop a School Coaching Culture

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...
How School Leaders Can Learn to Bring out the Best in Others

How School Leaders Can Learn to Bring out the Best in Others

  Most School leaders recognise that Performance management is an essential process that exists in schools for managing adult behaviour.   However, because the process is often seen as perfunctory, and in some cases is not seen as a significant driver to assist school improvement, a real opportunity is missed for developing potential and bringing out the best in others.   When school leaders are skilled in using the principles of coaching to assist their performance management meetings they help to create a clear path for creating a school culture where there is an:   “Organic sense of self-improvement fuelled by the genuine and self-motivated desire of all individuals to make things better.” [Andy Buck, 2009: What Makes a Great School?]   When a school’s culture is as described above, what is created is a set of common understanding and beliefs about performance management. That accepts it as a process for accelerating the achievement of school targets through:   – Creating alignment between organisational and personal objectives – Growing and developing others – Enabling others to step outside of their comfort zones – Supporting others to achieve their full potential – Inspiring confidence in other’s ability to succeed – Ensuring ownership and accountability.   When opposite beliefs and attitudes exist about the purpose and value of performance management, school cultures are created in which individuals:   – Struggle to take responsibility for their own actions – Become dependent on others for solutions and place limitations on their own ability to problem solve – Lack the internal motivation and desire to succeed – Weaken their ability to take risks and...