Ten years ago (last June, admittedly) I completed my Advanced Coaching training.  Since then coaching has become an increasing valuable system and recognised as a mainstream approach to personal and professional development.  Regrettably, it has not become the “tool-du-jour” as I referred to it in my original blog post and as I hoped back then.

Since 2007, schools have been submitted to sustained pressure, criticism and weight of expectation.  As a result, staff have had to bear this burden and there has been a resultant impact on well-being and performance.  The crisis in recruitment and retention is part of a wider challenge in professional life and therefore we are surely at a point to revisit the principles of coaching and their impact on schools. 

In the past decade there has been an increased, an improved, focus on mental health and well-being, and schools, inevitably and necessarily, are at the forefront of making a difference to the lives of the children and staff that inhabit them.  We have always known that happiness leads to productivity in the workplace, the retention of staff and children willing and ready to learn.  Therefore the attention that we have on the human needs of belongingness, love and esteem, is something that we can fully embrace in the development of a coaching culture in our schools.

I am looking forward to the journey to becoming a Licensed Coach Trainer (finally, after 10 years!) and supporting the development of a coaching culture in my School Trust and beyond.  


Published by Neil Jones

Free School Principal, writing on leadership in schools. Education anorak, a fan of the learning potential in the social web and of Leyton Orient FC.

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  1. Aristotle would be proud of you: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
    I can’t help wondering why coaching hasn’t become the ‘tool-du-jour’ you hoped?

  2. Thank you JP. I am honoured that you make the connection with ancients! They had it right in many ways.
    I feel, as with many other ideas (take mindfulness for instance), that ‘coaching’ has been misappropriated – unintentionally in most cases – and used in schools without the cultural, systemic change that is required.
    It too easily becomes a convenient term for doing the same old thing, ie performance management through appraisal and mentoring, wrapped up in a slightly more touchy-feely language.
    A colleague in a previous school, member of Senior Leadership Team, claimed he had coaching training and had coached colleagues in his last school. In a coaching training session that I organised he was tasked to ‘coach’ me. He proceeded to ask closed questions and give me the benefit of his prior experience. He couldn’t coach, even though he believed he was.
    There has to be a far broader, wider ranging shift in mindset in schools – from the top down. And with the state of the education system, concern over recruitment and retention and the rising awareness of mental health and well-being, coaching and all that comes with it may finally make its way to the heart of good leadership practice.

  3. I think you’re right and it must be an exciting prospect for you to have the opportunity and skills to dispel misconceptions about coaching and, even more importantly, to model good coaching yourself. I think that (as is so often the case) time might be another reason why coaching isn’t as embedded as it could be. Effective coaching is an ongoing process that often takes preparation by the coach and definitely requires reflection from the ‘coachee’. I think we need to have a shared understanding of how this can fit with day-to-day priorities and the benefits it will bring.

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