A very local and simple example of taking risks and asking for front line and management staff to work differently and across the system can be seen in a small but significant way with the ‘coaching programme’ used at Carr Manor High School. Here, in order to ‘know our children well’ and develop a ‘partners in learning’ approach (two of our three school themes) we found the smallest possible unit for a group of children to learn together (between 5 -10 pupils), arranged them into a vertical coaching group (pupils from every year group, gender and background) and appointed a coach to each group (some children have described their group as being like their other ‘family’).
There is a great deal to say about how these groups function, what they do and what their impact is on the children, the staff, the parents/carers and the school. However the key message at this point is that the coaches (advocates) include all staff – it is now part of their job description be they an administrator, technician, pupil support, teacher , manager or leader. All colleagues coaching and many working across the ‘system’ and across their own professional boundary for the benefit of the child and the whole learning community. Seems obvious but required risk taking at all levels, leaders and teachers ‘passing the ball’, bottom up led change and a working commitment to ‘partnership purpose’ with new ‘partnership rules’.
Simon Flowers is Head Teacher at Carr Manor High School in Leeds. He has introduced a radical and innovative coaching culture at the school which is showing some great results.