Knowledge Bank - Professional Development

Coaching and mentoring- the way forward

Our school has some good staff, but there are others who need lots of CPD. Could coaching and mentoring be the answer?

A good leader knows how important it is to develop his/ her staff. Professional development can be overlooked in school improvement, and yet it is a key component. A motivated, enthusiastic and well-trained staff can make all the difference whatever your catchment.  The first stage in the process of making sure you have the staff to do the job is your recruitment process. Presumably you have this right as you describe some of your staff as ‘good’. 

If you have other staff who could learn from them, then coaching and mentoring could be a good solution. An effective internal coaching and mentoring process is a cost effective and practical solution for you, at least in the short term. 

‘School Leadership Today’ magazine has recently run a series of six articles on coaching by Nick Austin and Richard Churches. For example the article ‘Towards a coaching culture’ identifies the main coaching principles. ‘Mentoring for Coaching and Learning’ from the Teaching Times Library looks at different models you might use. 

Feedback is a particularly important part of coaching and mentoring. It’s easy when there are plenty of positive points to make but more difficult for staff when there are issues. ‘Ensuring effective feedback for focussed CPD’ provides some practical guidance. The training of ‘mentor-coaches’ by the London Centre for Leadership Learning’ is the focus of the article ‘Trained mentor-coaches – Making a Difference’. 

Schools often have a wealth of potential for in-house development. Many staff will have expertise in different areas, creating an environment in which this can be shared is important. The process of appointing subject leaders enables some staff to become the focus of development for others. 

The development needs of the subject leader shouldn’t be overlooked either. They should have professional development in their specialist subject as well as support in how to coach and mentor other staff. It can be beneficial to develop links with the subject departments in other local schools to help with this. 

Remember, use the skills of your good teachers to develop those of others but don’t neglect their needs either.

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