Case Study - Cape Cornwall School

Julie Nash - Head Teacher (former)

Julie Nash
“It’s been quite a revolution here over the past 18 months. We have absolutely had our eyes opened… If there were a badge that said you were a coaching school, we’d be going for it.”

About Cape Cornwall School:

Cape Cornwall School is a small secondary in St Just, with 340 students aged 11-16 and 35 teaching staff. It has been working with Liz Scott Coaching since 2013 and a dozen of the teaching and leadership team have been trained in the Coaching Foundation Skills course and are now cascading the training through the school. All the teachers have been coached and a number of students have also received training so they can help younger students.

How are the coaching skills assisting teachers?

The coaching is extremely effective. The teachers enjoy the ‘scaffolding’ around coaching conversations. This scaffolding gives conversations and discussions with colleagues or students more purpose, focus and sense of direction so that they are shorter and more targeted and have a better outcome. In the past we tended to worry about how much time these conversations – particularly with students – were taking out of our day. Yes, they’re important but they do take a lot of time. As a result of the coaching and the greater focus in these conversations, we can do an awful lot more in far less time. A 20 minute conversation can generate a really good outcome.

What impact has coaching had for the students?

Our first approach was for the trained coaches among our staff to coach those students in Year 11 who needed additional support and that is still our priority. Some are a bit reticent at first because they perceive there might be a problem but we find that the more we do the more they want to carry on at the end of the six weeks programme, which we build for them specifically in whichever area they identify. They enjoy the dialogue and accountability with their coach. They quite often say: “Do I have to stop?” We have had other students queuing at the door, saying “why aren’t we being coached?” We have trained some of our students in Years 9, 10 and 11 to become coaches as well so they have gone into our feeder primary schools and done some transition work, coaching Year 6s as they prepared to join us. It worked very well. The younger children said they enjoyed talking to the older students while the Year 11s also got a huge amount out of it – they were really buzzing when they came back. Our aim now is to develop that so we can do that on a much wider scale.

What did the teaching staff learn from the Coaching Foundation Skills course?

The Coaching Foundation Skills Course has been brilliant. They got a massive understanding and appreciation of the difference between coaching and mentoring. We have trialled mentoring and coaching and we prefer coaching and that is what we are moving ahead with. Through the skills course, we have been able to deliver training to all our staff – from teachers and teaching assistants to pastoral support staff. We have also used the coaching training to develop a more coaching style in our performance management of staff.

What happens next?

We are taking the training a step further as a number of our staff are undertaking the accreditation process which means they will get an endorsed award through the ILM. We’re really keen to embed coaching across the school at every level and this is one way of doing it. There are 10 or 11 of us doing the ILM, which is great. We have really benefited from the coaching we’ve had on a personal and professional level and we thought that getting a recognised accreditation would be a really nice outcome. It also underlines what we are doing and our long term aim, which is to bring coaching to absolutely everyone in the school. We want to see more and more students trained as coaches. We are introducing a new, vertical pastoral system so tutor groups will have mixed ages. We see the coaching approach really taking off then, with the older students being trained as coaches to coach the younger students as they join the tutor groups.

Sum up your experience to date of working with Liz Scott Coaching & Training

It’s been quite a revolution here over the past 18 months. We have absolutely had our eyes opened. Liz and Stuart are generous with their time, they’re friendly and approachable and they clearly appreciate working with people who want to learn the coaching and training skills. We’ve loved it and it will continue long into the future. If there were a badge that said you were a coaching school, we’d be going for it.

Watch this short video of Julie giving a talk to a conference about the impact of coaching at Cape Cornwall