If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve”
Dylan Wiliam. University of London
The use of coaching in education is a rapidly growing area. In the same way that businesses use coaching to increase staff confidence and improve staff performance so it is happening in education.
In an era where the demands placed upon teaching staff and schools are increasing, coaching is a powerful tool which offers the opportunity for staff to consider how best to focus and utilise their resources and seek high standards of performance whilst also managing the many demands upon them. The potential of this to positively impact staff wellbeing, teacher performance, aid retention of teachers and therefore the quality of education for students is phenomenal.
According to research from the ICF there are huge benefits to using a coach includes increased productivity and building confidence. An independent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers http://coachfederation.org/need/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=747 studied the impact of using a coach in the work place and discovered:
70% Improved work performance
57% Improved time management
80% Improved self confidence
67% Improved their life/work balance
How does coaching help?
- It offers planned time to pause and reflect. Whilst ongoing training is vital, it can involve absorbing more information and leaving with extra tasks and ideas to implement into an already crammed curriculum. Coaching can be an effective tool that makes the most of training as it offers an opportunity to take stock, focus on goals, identify how and when these can be achieved
- If offers clarity and accountability
- It is an empowering process that focuses on what matters most and what can be controlled and managed
- It takes account of the needs and resources of the “whole person”
“The coaching was very useful for us and I have only positive things to say about it. It was very good to be taken out of our daily routine and have time to focus and analyse. Whilst the process was flexible and organic we appreciated how it also took us to a point where there was something tangible to action. We pin pointed some management issues that we were unhappy with, but perhaps had not been fully aware of the effect they were having; which was very helpful . The coaching with Julie has enabled us to make a conceptual leap forward; this has directed our next steps. It was a journey of self discovery and reflection from a cynical outset to leaving feeling focused and clear on our route forward.”
Manda and Phil Brookes, The Edward Jenner School, Gloucester.
How does this work?
Coaching can be offered in a workshops format for small groups of staff or on a 1:1 basis
Workshops offer the opportunity to experience a taster of coaching or work with colleagues to find a way through issues around which the school would like to make progress. This can include topics such as working towards targets on the school development plan, student specific issues and improving performance.
This work can support professional development, increase staff autonomy and confidence as well as support staff wellbeing. It offers space to look holistically at work and other demands upon the individual that need to be managed.
Is it value for money?
Coaching offers time and space for teaching staff to pause, reflect, review and refocus. This then opens the way to establishing clear goals, identifying resources and making best use of what is available, whilst managing the obstacles and pressures that come with their role.
Supporting teachers and facilitating time for them to perform at their best is crucial.
“A teacher with high job satisfaction, positive morale and who is healthy should be more likely to teach lessons which are creative, challenging and effective, leading to students doing better in exams.”
Education Support Partnership
We are in a time where teachers are leaving the profession at a rapid rate and recruitment is a significant challenge often due to “excessive workload, working within an assessment system that strips the joy from pupils’ learning and dealing with a treadmill of constant change in education”
For those who remain
- Of 21,400 who began careers in English state schools in 2010, 30% had left by 2015, government figures reveal
- The DfE statistics also highlight the significant number of teaching posts that schools are not able to fill permanently; in November 2015 there were 730 teacher vacancies and 2,870 temporarily filled posts where a vacancy existed
- Analysis by the Labour Party has estimated that secondary schools spent £56 million on advertising for vacant posts in 2015, which was a 61% increase from 2010.
- A survey published in October 2015 by the NUT and YouGov found that over half of teachers were thinking of leaving teaching in the next two years citing ‘volume of workload’ (61%) and ‘seeking better work/life balance’ (57%) as the two top issues causing them to consider this
‘We need to create time and space for teachers to reflect in a structured way and to learn from their mistakes.’ It seems in the current environment our young teachers have neither time, space, nor the luxury of making mistakes. 
An investment in coaching could be key to offering teachers a fresh way forward…
For further information or an informal chat contact Julie Cresswell
 Alison Ryan, senior policy adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers