Research carried out by some of the most respected educational foundations in the UK has revealed that the quality of teaching and learning within schools often varies more significantly than between them. This discovery means that despite headline-grabbing statistics (such as the number of pupils at your school with five GCSE passes at grades A*-C), deep pockets of underachievement could be buried within your institution. This has worrying implications for staff working in schools, for pupils and for their parents/carers.
One way to address this situation is to encourage reflective leadership and teaching practice at your school. In particular, stressing the importance to all staff of the need to be open to any anomalies in pupil performance and what may be causing them. There are often underlying factors within specific classrooms or subject areas which can be addressed through supportive actions. Such openness requires a culture which is conducive to frank conversations. In some schools this is becoming increasingly difficult ‘on open ground’ because of the concerns and fears that colleagues have about performance agendas. Coaching opportunities which are created outside of the performance management system, where confidentiality agreements are in place, can be very helpful in promoting the safety required to reflect honestly.
Coaching is a powerful tool to facilitate this reflective process and the following questions
should help you to address the status quo:
1. Are we happy with the way things are now?
2. Is there any evidence to back up our concerns?
3. What do we want to change about how things are right now?
4. How can we move things forward by doing more of something?
5. How can we move things forward by doing less of something?
6. What would pupils suggest we need to change about our work?
7. What is the ‘elephant in the room’ that we are pretending to ignore in raising our performance?
8. Who can support us as we address the areas identified above?
9. What can they do to help us make the changes that are necessary?
10. How will we know that we have been successful?
Collaboration not competition
We believe that the lot of pupils will be improved if teaching colleagues working in different contexts collaborate more and compete less within individual schools. You could reap the benefits of collaboration in your own school by considering the following actions:
- Encourage every teacher to observe another teacher outside their age group or curriculum area at least once a term – this will have greater impact if each teacher implements one significant change in their own classroom, based on every observation they undertake.
- Build a confidential coaching forum within your school for teachers, enabling teachers to feel safe reflecting within small groups or pairs
- Include a ten minute ‘teaching and learning’ slot from a member of staff in every significant meeting – thereby creating a culture of peer-led learning.
- Publish a concise, weekly ‘Hints and Tips’ email to all teaching staff, which includes suggestions from other colleagues on how to improve the pupil learning experience, based on findings at your school.
For more information on the Coaching we offer please click here.