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Being a Professional Tutor: Establishing a coaching culture.


One of my priorities on becoming Professional Tutor at my school was to establish a cadre of highly trained coaches.  Throughout my career in school so far I have been exposed to coaching.  While I can find the sessions uncomfortable at times, there is no doubt in my mind of the positive impact that being coached has.

It is with this in mind, and some wider research into coaching, that we are part way through establishing a high-quality coaching culture.  This post aims to briefly share how I went about this.  A deeper reflection of impact will follow in the summer term

  1. The first step was to identify a group of willing, volunteer coaches from the existing staff.  We didn’t mind what their position was within the school.  Being trained as a coach and coaching others can have a positive impact on the coaches own teaching and this is was very much an opportunity for challenging CPD.
  2. We used an external trainer.  This was to separate a previous attempt at establishing coaching, but also to hold myself and the school to account.  The training took one day plus two follow up 1:1 sessions for the trainee coaches following their first sessions.  Feedback from our cadre indicate that these follow up sessions are invaluable in maintaining the quality of coaching sessions.  We are now about to train our second groups.
  3. The ‘standard operating procedures’ of Coaching @ Priory were negotiated and agreed.  We made time available by providing cover for both parties to meet.  It’s crazy to expect high quality conversations to occur when they are squeezed in before school, at break or after school. If we are serious about coaching, we have to provide the time and space for it to happen.  In addition, the sessions would be confidential and coaches would not be held accountable.  This is really important is true coaching is to take place.  My role is to converse with those involved in coaching and provide support and challenge as appropriate.
  4. A group of, volunteer coachees were identified and paired with the coaches.  The opportunity was sold as CPD and open to all.  It’s another tool or way in which to meet appraisal targets or work on any other aspect of teaching and learning.  What is important is that they know exactly what they are signing up for.  We spoke about the difference between coaching and mentoring and pointed out that this is the chance to have another, impartial, critical friend outside of their normal contacts.  The volunteer part is important.  For coaching to be truly effective, participants have to opt in.  We also emphasised that conversations were confidential and that the sessions would not be monitored. For example, this can give an opportunity for those who are struggling to establish themselves as consistently ‘Good’ teachers have the opportunity to focus on a part of their own practice.
  5. Those coaches who are confident have also been asked to coach an NQT. NQTs use some of their NQT Professional Development Time (part of their 10% extra non-contact time). If we are serious about establishing a coaching culture and are to convince people of its impact, we need to get NQTs in the habit of being coached and coaching others. I see this support rolling forward into the, traditional poorly supported, NQT+1 and +2 years.

I’m currently in the process of monitoring and evaluating, mainly through asking what participants have thought, found and do.  I’m doing this without making anyone reveal the nature of the conversations.



Image Credit Flickr user williamnyk used under a Creative Commons licence.


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