Case Study - Cornwall Teaching School

Jenny Blunden - Director, Cornwall Teaching School

Jenny Blunden
“The clear link that the Government has made between the quality of leadership and the outcomes for pupils means that we need the highest skilled leaders in our schools – and coaching development for leaders has an important role to play in achieving this.”

About Cornwall Teaching School

Cornwall Teaching School has been working with Liz Scott Coaching & Training since the summer of 2014 and is keen to develop coaching leaders and staff across the school community. It is a cross-phase teaching school working in partnership with early years, primary, secondary, post-16 and special schools. It is the designated teaching school of Truro and Penwith College and is a National Support School (NSS) led by National Leaders of Education (NLE). Its work includes teacher training for new teachers and leadership development and CPD at all career stages.

 Why did you approach Liz Scott Coaching & Training?

Working with our partners we recognised that there was the need for some coaching development to support and build leadership skills within schools. It is part of our role as a teaching school to see that leaders have the capacity to be able to bring on their own teaching staff in the school environment. Coaching is an extremely valuable tool in capacity-building and we contacted Liz Scott Coaching & Training as we had heard of the work she was doing elsewhere. We were particularly interested in the Coaching Foundation Skills course that is delivered to middle leaders. We were also keen to support our senior leaders with the Coaching Skills for Leaders training.

 Why is it so important to develop leaders in schools?

In the changing landscape of education, the leadership teams in schools are much more directly answerable in terms of budget spending and when it comes to the capability and performance management of its staff. The clear link that the Government has made between the quality of leadership and the outcomes for pupils means that we need the highest skilled leaders in our schools – and coaching development for leaders has an important role to play in achieving this.

 Why is coaching so useful in a school setting?

Coaching engages other people in reflection and questioning. We have found that a coaching approach which is making people think for themselves and be more independent and autonomous in their own critical reflection of their practice has a better, more long-term impact. So it is very effective.

 What impact has the coaching had?

Liz has overseen a variety of different leadership coaching activities with middle and senior leaders across trust schools and partner schools and she is already having an impact. The work has been very successful in schools where OFSTED has highlighted the need to improve and strengthen their leadership and management teams. So the coaching is positively enhancing the outcomes in those schools. Partners that are working with us on senior leader coaching programmes are finding the experience valuable and are able to cascade coaching skills back into their schools, embedding a culture of coaching.

Liz has also done some work with our specialist leaders of education (SLE), whose remit is to support other schools to improve and to improve their own practice. Coaching is an important part of the SLE role and the training that Liz has done with our SLEs has been fantastic. It has been very well received by those who already had a level of experience of coaching skills. Liz has been able to bring those coaching skills to a higher level.

 What has the response been to the training to date?

We’ve had really positive feedback about Liz and Stuart from all participants. They are extremely professional and positive and they have been very well received by teachers and leaders.

 How do you see the coaching work developing?

There will be an ongoing need for coaching development with our partner schools. Word has got out about the impact of Liz’s work so I expect the number of participating schools to grow. I also see there being a move to working with pupils in terms of their coaching development and certainly with peer to peer learning. And I would like to see continued coaching development for our specialist leaders and our local leaders of education, both of which we have a remit to work with to develop strong local head teachers who are able to work with other schools who might not be doing so well in some key aspects of their curriculum or outcomes.