Coaching in Schools

A chance conversation with the lead guitarist in my Thursday evening blues band was the rather unusual start point for becoming curious about the extent to which Coaching is used in schools. Apart from some good riffs, licks and slides he happens to be a Head Teacher of a local Primary School.

This curiosity led to an invitation for Hugo and I to attend one of the bi monthly meetings of the Head Teachers of the Fulford cluster of schools – about 10 in all. A  cold November morning saw us deep in conversation with said teachers, exploring their response to Coaching, and the extent to which it is used in schools. Discussion revealed:

  • Understanding of what coaching is is patchy, ranging from those who think they know, to those who confess little understanding
  • Application of coaching is piecemeal, and typically used for short interventions such as annual appraisals of staff, or adopting more of a ‘listening’ style when talking with students
  • Some remained, or became, curious; some appeared indifferent
  • Whilst some Head Teachers professed knowledge of coaching, none received same
  • Two head teachers accepted our offer of free coaching sessions

School drawing

Since then, two head teachers have received about 6 coaching sessions each. We are coming to the end of the free sessions, and anticipate a review meeting with them probably in November, from which an article or video will be produced. It is clear that the coaching has proved both useful and timely.

To add to this exploration, I was invited to run an Inset day early September for a Whitby based Primary School on ‘Coaching Conversations’. The Head Teacher, having attended a two day workshop on the subject run by NYCC felt inspired to cascade some of the basic principles of coaching down to his teachers with the objective that more of a ‘Coaching Approach’ to performance management and appraisal discussions be adopted. The day seemed to be well received, with plenty of engagement and practice. It will be interesting to see the extent to which this translates into changed on the job behaviour, and what support is offered to ensure that transition takes place.

That Head Teacher is keen to be involved in our York based discussions, and will add an interesting ‘cascade’ perspective to the discussion. I am left with the twin questions:

  1. How many other Head Teachers would benefit from Coaching?
  2. How many other Head Teachers are thinking about cascading some of the principles of coaching to the staff?


Peter Lumley

September 2015