The Importance of Learning and Development

Following a volatile two years, employers now face the perfect storm of issues related to rising business and living costs, a fierce war on talent, widening skills gaps and making hybrid working a permanent reality for those who want it. 

With so many different areas to focus on at once businesses may be forgiven for neglecting employee learning and development. However, with the impact of upskilling employees being so beneficial, it is vital that Human Resources departments continue to offer learning and development opportunities.

Living and working through the pandemic and dealing with the subsequent economic and social challenges has prompted individuals to prioritise flexibility and personal fulfilment. Organisations are re-examining business strategies, workforce models, values, and culture — often steered by new demands from employees themselves. 

Amid this era of massive transformation, learning and development (L&D) has a new mandate to become its best self. L&D leaders are being challenged to answer employees’ renewed calls for growth and purpose, while also grappling with the urgent challenge of future-proofing their organisations. 

Retention, retention, retention 

Demand for talent is consistently outstripping supply – we are constantly reminded that it’s an employee’s market. Some sectors are affected by severe labour shortages as the great resignation left a black hole where a talent pipeline used to be. 

Employee retention is now a competitive advantage. An employer’s ability to hold on to its talent — especially those with highly sought-after skills — underpins its ability to operate at an optimal level, and avoid the cost and disruption caused by employee turnover and the resultant drain on knowledge and skills

The cost – in time and resources- to replace workers is massive, meaning retention affects bottom line profits like never before. It’s a new fight for businesses and it’s one that’s being waged on a global battlefield. 

Learning and development strategies that align closely with business objectives are a great way to upskill, reskill and retain staff and a way of utilising all the skills available in an existing workforce. Filling skills gaps by reallocating human resources creates upwards or sideways movement, which provides new opportunities and offers fresh challenges for a workforce. 

Workforce agility 

While L&D has always been recognised as offering some added value, in times of belt-tightening, it was traditionally one of the functions to suffer most. Thankfully this outdated concept was changing before the pandemic with e-learning software a great enabler for distributing on-demand information, but the last two years have been an accelerator for one of the greatest business shakeups in living memory and as businesses pivoted to survive, they required a level of staff flexibility not seen in generations. 

While many businesses suffered periods of labour restriction and constraint, due to lockdowns and furlough, they found that they still had to offer a similar or even greater level of service. Some organisations enhanced existing products or services; some diversified and created new ones but often with far smaller workforces, bringing a reliance on greater workforce agility.

In broad terms, workforce agility relies on the number of individuals- or collective units –within an existing workforce that were able to pivot and apply their more generalist skills, knowledge and behaviours to different or even newly created roles within a business. 

The businesses that performed well in recent years, those that were able to thrive or pivot successfully and weather the storm, generally had a high level of learning culture already developed within their organisation that pre-dated the pandemic. Many demonstrated the benefits of having expert learning and development solutions that were able to identify gaps and apply solutions to create new skills to deliver new responsibilities. 

The new focus on L&D means learning leaders are knocking down traditional silos to collaborate on a more holistic vision for HR. They’re reaching for fresh solutions to align business objectives to skills gaps to career paths, internal mobility, and retention, while also bringing a new sense of care and humanity to employee well-being, diversity, and inclusion.

Unlock the potential of your team members 

Unlock the potential of your team members with an expert learning and development department.  

Learning and Development Apprenticeships will develop the skills and confidence needed to create an effective training framework that can be effectively implemented across your organisation. Working closely with Human Resources and other business functions, learning and development apprentices work closely with managers and senior stakeholders to identify ways to improve operational and organisational performance at all levels.

Strong Leadership skills needed post-Covid

Strong Leadership skills needed post-Covid Header

You wouldn’t visit a doctor who hadn’t been to medical school or hire a solicitor who had never practiced law and yet, here in the UK, there are literally millions of people in leadership and management positions who have been given absolutely no guidance or specialised training on how to do it.

This group, known as the “accidental managers”, have been promoted to managerial positions on the back of notable performance in a certain job. Just because someone is a good plumber, doesn’t mean they can run a successful plumbing business. Or indeed a wonderful classroom teacher doesn’t always make a good deputy head. The unfortunate truth is that too many new managers find themselves out of their depth.

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has estimated that as many as four out of five managers are accidental managers – that’s equivalent to 2.4 million bosses without adequate training and their collective underperformance is estimated to costs businesses around £84 billion a year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

As organisations deal with a world post-COVID, strong leadership and management – at all levels – will be key to thriving in the new normal. 

It’s time to change how we prepare the next generation of leaders

The Covid-19 pandemic has become the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations in generations. How and where we work, shop, communicate and learn has changed, possibly, forever. Organisations from every sector, through strong leadership and management, need to adapt to stay ahead of the curve and to do this effectively, they need the right knowledge skills and behaviours.

The DNA of our workplaces has changed in many ways. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that leadership matters and for many organisations facing uncertain futures, it may matter now more than ever as the UK faces a perfect storm of rising inflation and a new cost-of-living crisis, which has put employers- and how they support their workforce- front and centre of the public’s mind. 

The good news is that almost anyone can learn to be an effective leader if they are given the opportunity and are willing to try. The barrier seems to be expediency and cost.

Managing people is a complicated skill, and learning it is not a short process. A one or two-day course is essentially the equivalent of dipping a toe in the water, especially as the focus increasingly shifts towards “soft skills” such as interpersonal skills, coaching, active listening, collaboration, and heightened emotional intelligence.

In addition, the evidence of the last two years suggests that poor leadership qualities exert a heavy toll on employees’ mental health. Those who work for a bad boss have a greater risk of high blood pressure, chronic stress, clinical depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders, and a host of other health problems.

Under such conditions, it is obviously impossible for people to perform at their best.

The road to recovery and productivity that the UK currently travels will be far easier if businesses have the effective leaders they need in place. It’s time to offer the right type of leadership and management training to the managers who need it.

The Apprenticeship Levy: Here to Help

The Apprenticeship Levy could prove to be just the ticket for providing the necessary management training that can turn high-flying workers into high-flying managers.

Employers can use funds from the apprenticeship levy to fund leadership and management apprenticeship programmes, and City Skills has been working across a variety of sectors to help businesses do just that.

The levy fund can be used to cover the cost of the Operations/Departmental Manager Level 5 apprenticeship, the Coaching Professional Level 5 apprenticeship or the Team Leader Level 3 apprenticeshipThese apprenticeships are designed to enable new or experienced managers to learn on the job and experience both leadership theory and management practice and apply it to real workplace scenarios along the way.

If you would like to know how a leadership or management apprenticeship can improve your skills or career prospects or what the impact of better management training can be for your business, speak to one of our apprenticeship experts today. 

What are the skills needed for coaching?

All organisations, in almost every sector, are trying to get the best out of their people. Formalised coaching provides the time, space and environment for individuals to think deeply about how to solve a problem, and how to move themselves – and their teams or students –forward.

Expert coaches are able to work with people, in a non-directive way, to help them to learn and grow but importantly, empower them to be responsible for their own actions. Developing professional coaching skills with a school or organisation’s leadership can be an effective way to improve staff morale and help them to achieve their goals and objectives. The quality of a leader’s coaching skills will directly impact productivity and the ultimate success of a team or organisation.

Skills for coaching 

Coaching skills are the behaviours and actions of a coach that focus on helping individuals take responsibility for improving their performance. Rather than focus on solutions, coaching skills aim to ask probing questions in order to guide others toward improvement and learning through self-reflection, collaboration and insight. 

Coaches don’t need to be an expert in any particular subject or function but they do need to be an expert at empowering people, holding them to account, challenging them to think deeply and to own their progress and performance. 

Here are some fundamental coaching skills that can help your organisation achieve success:

Goal Setting

The first important skill in coaching is the ability to elicit clear, achievable, well-defined and motivating goals from the people being coached. This includes getting acceptance of the reality of the current state and a clear commitment to achieving a future state. The right goals and milestones guide the actions and focus energies on a clear objective.

Empathy

Strong leaders are able to use coaching to connect with others in a non-directive way that’s free of judgment. Coaches recognise and understand another person’s perspective, which helps them guide even the most challenging conversations because their focus is on achieving higher goals rather than identifying what caused the difficulty. Coaching gives people an opportunity to describe their reality and the ability to empathise with others shows coaches are trustworthy individuals who will quickly earn the respect of others.

A Growth Mindset

Coaching challenges limiting beliefs. Coaching is about shifting someone’s mindset so that they believe in growing other people. Strong coaching skills develop individuals that fundamentally believe the people that they work with can solve their own problems and can grow. Coaches can listen for what’s not being said as much as what is being said. They can understand when a colleague uses a generalisation or makes an assumption about what is going on and what can be done about it. 

Listening 

A great coaching skill is to actively listen. Coaches gather information from a conversation and with no judgement are able to filter it and clarify it for the individual being coached. Coaches develop the skills to listen to what’s being said and what isn’t being said, what is a generalisation, and what’s an assumption about an issue.  

Curiosity

The difference between knowing and discovering is curiosity, which is another basic skill good coaches possess. Coaches should try not to judge and to stay as objective as possible while you find out what truly matters to their coachee. Show a genuine interest in their reality, focus on their goals and be in the moment instead of focussing on the next question or technique on your agenda. Keep interruptions to a minimum but at the same time keep the conversation focused and on-target.

Empowering

Empowering the people being coached to help them become responsible for their own actions is a crucial part of coaching. Coaching takes the onus away from leaders, who instead of taking on more responsibility are able to empower their teams, making them more accountable for success, which leads to shared ownership of goals and provides a sense of fulfilment for all parties.

Communication

Another essential coaching skill is the ability to communicate effectively. Whether this is to a mentee, a coachee, other members of staff or even a board of governors, communicating with clarity and transparency gains the trust of others and ensures that everyone is clear on expectations. Coaching is based on quality conversations so by making coaches more reflective they have a greater ability to articulate what they mean and enhance the quality of coaching sessions. 

Through the coaching professional apprenticeship, coaches will develop the core skills needed to be successful coaches in a range of settings who are able to provide coaching to individuals, teams and leaders to improve performance and embed a coaching culture within an organisation’s wider practice and approach.

The success of the apprenticeship is measured not only by the skills they gain but by the impact they have on their organisation.

Why should teachers do a coaching apprenticeship?

Coaching as an approach to support professional and personal development towards achieving set goals, is a well-established practice in the fields of sports training and organisational management and is now one of the fastest-growing professional development methods in the education field. 

A coaching relationship fosters leadership and improves dialogue in a way that has a direct impact on the professional development of teachers and the academic achievement of students 

Professionalising coaching through an apprenticeship model will develop the skills knowledge and behaviours and create the type of culture that has a lasting benefit on the quality of teaching and a positive impact on student performance. 

By adopting this long-term apprenticeship approach, teachers are able to explore coaching models and implement strategies that could further contribute to organisational performance and high learning outcomes for all students, while also fostering leadership and accountability at the management, classroom and student levels.

In developing the coaching professional Level 5 Apprenticeship, the aspiration is that anyone who manages leads or works with others has the opportunity to become a professional coach. When a coaching culture is embedded through an organisation coaching can deliver a number of benefits. The apprenticeship won’t just be creating someone that can do a job, but actually, someone who will embed professional coaching skills within an organisation to empower teachers, to take responsibility for their own development, not just make them do more work. 

Missed Opportunities 

Almost five years after the launch of the apprenticeship levy, schools are still struggling to find ways to spend their money. 

Schools are able to use Apprenticeships to upskill a range of staff, from front office administrators, HR, IT support to classroom support staff and even senior school leaders. 

Department for Education figures estimate that around 90% of MATs and 10% of foundation schools are paying the Apprenticeship Levy, however, a huge proportion of these organisations are failing to access the funds available to them.  

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy was brought in by the Government in April 2017 as a way of creating more funds to support quality apprenticeship training and encourage employers to invest in apprenticeship programmes as a way of upskilling staff. 

Critically schools will begin to pay the Apprenticeship Levy if they have a payroll above £3million and this will be taken at 0.5% of that payroll and then stored in a digital account which can only be accessed by schools to pay for the costs of apprenticeship training. This is called your apprenticeship levy allowance.

Meeting the public-sector target

All public sector bodies with more than 250 employees must employ at least 2.3% of their total headcount as new apprentices until the end of March 2022. If a school has less than 250 staff, they don’t need to worry about this. But if a school is part of a MAT, the trust may have over 250 employees across the organisation, so there may be a requirement to upskill or recruit via an apprenticeship. 

While the public sector apprenticeships target will shortly be removed and from this date, there will no longer be a target set in legislation for public sector employers to reach, public sector employers with 250 or more staff will still be asked to report this data for the period between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023 and therefore data reporting remains unchanged. 

What roles can apprenticeships support?

Business Administration or front office roles

HR roles 

Middle Managers 

Senior Leaders 

Coaching Helps Teachers to GROW

Made famous by Sir John Whitmore, a famous sports coach turned business coach in the 1980s, the GROW model is a very practical coaching model driven by a powerful coaching philosophy. 

The GROW Model is a coaching framework used in conversations, meetings and everyday leadership to unlock potential and possibilities. Since the 1980’s it has become the world’s most popular coaching model for problem-solving, goal setting and performance improvement.

It is one of the models currently embedded within the new Coaching Professional Level 5 Apprenticeship launched by City Skills and Education Training specialists Olevi. 

The GROW model is an acronym, it stands for:

G: goals and aspirations

R: reality of the current situation

O: opportunities and possibilities

W: want, how much desire is there for actions and accountability

But as Damian Mitchelmore, Managing Director of the OLEVI Alliance explains there are other systems and processes coaching apprentices might put in place.

“There are a number of models that you could use in a coaching conversation, and one of them might be the GROW model, the T-GROW model or as we prefer even a GROW-N model. Importantly, as well as introducing a number of impactful models, this apprenticeship teaches someone how and when to use a model and how to bespoke and change the model to fit their context.”

“For example, we prefer to use the GROWN model, which adds an additional step to the GROW model. The N is crucial because it allows us to focus on where a coachee or the conversation is right now. We will encourage coaches to ask questions like ‘where are you now?’, ‘what have you learned now?’, ‘what you thinking now?’ having answers to these questions creates a clearer picture of what the next step might be.”

“We teach coaches to identify the growth in a person they are coaching. Has the person grown as a result of the coaching session specifically or are they leaving with an action which will lead to their growth? The GROW model is very much about, what next step is the coachee going to leave with, but actually, we think it is important to identify whether that person has grown as well.”

Olevi and City Skills have worked in partnership for a number of years creating apprenticeship programmes that are designed specifically for schools and Multi-Academy Trusts. The curriculum content, along with the knowledge and skills developed and behaviours learned, are all designed around the most common teaching and support roles found in education settings.  

But, the creation of this enhanced model, with an additional step at the end, doesn’t detract from the importance of identifying the individual or organisational goals at the outset of any coaching relationship, as Damian explains. 

“If you want to move from a learning organisations to a coaching organisation, you must be really committed to exploring the goal; what it is you want to achieve? What does it look like? Why do you want to achieve it? And where are you now; what is your reality.”

“Too many organisations, for example, say they have a problem with behaviour and then try to solutionize straight away rather than exploring the problem more deeply to really understand why it is that they want to improve behaviour and what a great outcome could really look like.” 

“Coaching allows individuals to create clarity over where they are now, what they are trying to achieve and what the preferred destination looks like.”

“What’s really transformative about coaching is being able to change someone’s mindset, which leads to more self-confidence, more reflection, and more independence more buy-in. and ultimately more fulfilment.”

Coaching is about shifting someone’s mindset so that they believe in growing other people. The Coaching Professional Apprenticeship transforms people into coaches that fundamentally believe the people that they work with can solve their own problems and can grow. 

“Coaching in schools challenges limiting beliefs, coaches can listen for what’s not being said as much as what is being said. They can understand when a colleague uses a generalisation or makes an assumption about what is going on and what can be done about it.” 

Empowerment 

Whichever coaching model is employed, the key to a successful coaching outcome is the empowerment of others to take responsibility for their own actions and development, in achieving whatever goals they have set. But as Damian explains empowerment leads to engagement and development, creating a happier staff body. 

“Coaching is a way of making people feel valued because they are being given the time to think and talk about themselves; where they are, what they want to achieve, why they want to achieve it, but it also creates a sense of fulfilment because ultimately they are the ones that actually own their next moves. In this sense coaching allows an individual to choose and make their own decisions, it puts them firmly in control.”

“Coachees are treated as professionals, so it encourages self-belief, it encourages self-development and it creates really meaningful relationships in an organisation as well because people, feel listened to and valued.”

For more information about coaching in schools contact us today.

Royal Wootton Bassett Academy

With a staff body of around 120, Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, part of the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust, has used coaching apprenticeships to help staff develop new skills and improve the standard of teaching and learning across its member schools. 

The Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust is made up of seven schools comprising four secondary and three primary schools. Across the schools, a cohort of ten members of staff have completed the Advanced Skills Educational Coach Level 4 Apprenticeship, designed by education sector specialist Olevi and supported by City Skill. 

As Assistant Head, Paul Day explains, the knowledge, skills and behaviours developed through the apprenticeship have benefited the wider school community. “In our school, two teachers have completed the apprenticeship and worked with another 15 members of staff meaning around 10% of staff are now trained as coaches”, said Paul. 

This was the accumulation of years of work and investment by the school that has led to a coaching culture within the school as an approach to empowering teachers to drive their own development and pupils to become more independent.

Paul explains, “Because of the length of time it takes and because of the requirement to demonstrate deliberate coaching practice, the apprenticeship has allowed us to dig deep into the mechanisms of coaching, not just in terms of how you do it, but also in the different ways it can be implemented across the school.

“Over the last few years, in particular, we have been increasingly interested in its use in the classroom as well. We’re very keen to understand how coaching can develop pupils as it allows us to switch from the ‘sage on the stage’ to a ‘guide on the side’ mentality.”

The explicit nature of the coaching culture transcends formal contracting as coaches and coachees and is now prevalent in corridor conversations, staff room conversations and appraisals. 

The Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust is able to fund this deep-routed staff development through the Apprenticeship Levy, a government tax created in 2017 to increase funds for work-based learning and to encourage employers with a wage bill of over £3m to invest in high-quality apprenticeships. Despite the availability of this fund many schools and Multi-Academy Trusts are not utilising it. 

“When the idea of using the apprenticeship levy was first floated, I’d never heard of it. We had obviously paid for staff development previously but never explored how to utilise the Apprenticeship Levy. It allows for a perfect marriage of how we wanted to take coaching forward as a school and be able to access a funding stream that meant we could provide such a great opportunity for our staff,” admits Paul. As a trust, one of the biggest impacts of the apprenticeship and an engrained coaching ethos is the change in mindset it triggers amongst staff and pupils. Historically coaching would have been a term

used for support when a teacher needed support, now, Paul explains, it has led to a growth mindset that means when something has going wrong, it’s seen as an opportunity for change and an opportunity for growth.

“We speak a lot about the TLC model, where teaching, learning or leadership and coaching all align. By increasing the coaching and communication skills of our teachers, we have seen the impact on their leadership styles and their teaching. They become more confident practitioners, who are more willing to go beyond their comfort zone and stretch themselves to try new things.”

“Historically, coaching might have been something used when a member of staff wasn’t doing very well, but now our ethos is actually that it doesn’t matter whether someone sees themselves as a two out of ten or an eight out of ten, the point is coaching is for anyone that sees a gap between where they are and where they want to be. And I think because we’ve now got staff that are much more self-aware, they’re now much more able to identify their own gaps and therefore more willing to take steps to close those gaps and achieve the impact that they want for themselves.”

This willingness to change and develop is now widespread across the school. More teachers are willing to put themselves forward for CPD opportunities, but also to lead them now they have the confidence and assertiveness to feel they are in a position to influence those situations. The knock-on effect is greater questioning skills in the classroom which helps to develop pupil’s learning techniques too. 

Starting an apprenticeship as an experienced teacher might put some members of staff off, but Paul explains that this has never been a barrier to development.

“Knowing the purpose, knowing why people were asked to do the apprenticeship and understanding the impact it would have on their school made it a far richer learning experience for them and meant that we could have almost called it anything. Being an apprenticeship was never an issue.”

This investment is paying dividends. 

“We knew, from working with Olevi previously that there would an inherent quality about the apprenticeship and that it would achieve the impact we wanted from coaching in the school and across the trust.

“Number one we are interested in the level of coaching skills someone could develop and the impact this could have on their practice, but number two we wanted them to share what they had learned effectively so that everyone could benefit from these skills and utilise them, whatever role they are in.”

Benefits/Impact of Coaching in Schools

Coaching Professional in Education Apprenticeship Level 5 apprenticeship has been designed to equip senior teachers and middle managers with the tools and techniques to improve performance and facilitate growth through individual, team and leadership coaching. It will also help to embed a coaching culture within a school’s wider practice and approach.

By the end of their apprenticeship coaches will be competent to work as professional coaches and have developed enough skills not to require further formal training. Apprentices will establish, not only new skills, knowledge and behaviours but also a mindset required to engage and empower others. 

The impact of coaching skills within an organisation is far greater than just the individuals who study the qualification and the coachees they work with. The ripple effect of a coaching culture can be felt throughout the corridors, staff rooms and classrooms of a whole school. 

Here are some of the other benefits of using coaching in schools:

  • Coaching creates the mindset for someone to be open to change, it creates a willingness to learn because it creates a non-judgemental environment
  • Coaching takes people through a learning process so they develop the skills that can be applied to any problem, even when they aren’t being coached
  • Coaching creates curiosity and leads to staff asking themselves and others more questions 
  • Coaching creating independent-thinking students in the classroom 
  • Coaching shifts responsibility for learning and self-development away the teacher and places it on  students
  • Coaching allows staff to become better thinkers, making them more reflective and more independent
  • Coaching can improve engagement in staff who feel values and invested in and are given more time and space to consider a problem
  • Coaching can improve staff wellbeing because it allows them to take more responsibility for their actions and more choices around how they would like to grow
  • Investing in coaching results in greater feelings of value and fulfilled leading to greater staff retention
  • Coaching can aid recruitment as candidates see – and hear – about how a school supports its staff and enables them to grow
  • Because of the length of time it takes and the requirement to demonstrate deliberate coaching practice, the apprenticeship helps to embed good practice within daily duties
  • Coaching improves staff development as develop deep-rooted skills and behaviours that are applied daily  

All organisations, whether they are in an education setting or a business, are striving to get the best out of their people. Formalised coaching provides the space, time and environment for individuals to think deeply about how they can solve a problem, and how to move themselves – and their teams or students –forward. It also provides a platform for people to be held accountable, to be responsible for their progress.

The Coaching Professional Apprenticeship is delivered over fourteen months and ensures coaches working in a variety of organisations develop the advanced theory, skills and strategies to engage and empower others to enhance their professional performance by building self-belief and encouraging individuals to be self-aware, making them better equipped to collaborate, innovate and deal with daily challenges in the classroom. 

Why aren’t more schools using coaching in staffrooms?

Professional Coaching is a fantastic opportunity for experienced teachers to develop themselves further and for new teachers to gain the confidence, skills and self-awareness needed for a long and successful teaching career.  

The Coaching Professional apprenticeship not only provides teachers with the latest theory and access to a variety of coaching models to underpin the new strategies they’re learning but also offers the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter and how to implement their learned techniques with peers and in the classroom.

Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance, but still, so many schools are yet to introduce coaching or make use of the apprenticeship levy as part of their staff development plans. 

Peer coaching for teachers: Teachers coaching teachers

Coaching is simply a two-way dialogue where the intention is to put the responsibility for finding solutions to a variety of challenges on the coachee. This is done through a process of effective questioning and active listening on behalf of the coach.

The open questions asked are designed to focus the coachee on their goals, and the current situation and allow them to explore the options available to them to move forward whilst maintaining personal responsibility for their actions.

Importantly, the questions encourage staff to think for themselves rather than wait for the answer to be provided. It moves staff from being dependent on line managers and senior staff to be more independent and self-sufficient. In this way, coaching can elicit greater student independence and promote effective learning.

The final steps in the formal coaching process includes giving effective feedback which needs to be specific and timely and ensuring the coachee has adequate follow up information and clear evaluation.

But, typically, teachers are time-poor, so feel they are unable to commit to the hours of formal coaching and learning required to achieve the necessary level of knowledge and skills to deliver it effectively. Many will have a fixed model of what coaching looks like, which involves ring-fencing their time, sitting in a quiet room working with another, and also time-poor peers.  But while this model is true for the endpoint assessment element of the Coaching Professional apprenticeship, the learning commitment is far less formal and coaching just as effective when used in shorter, less formal situations. 

The Myths about Coaching
  • It takes up too much time and it’s quicker to tell people what to do: Yes the endpoint assessment requires formal coaching sessions, and overtime coaches will contract with coachees to make time and space but so many short interventions will create the impact required and create  more time for everyone in the long run
  • You need to have experience in the relevant field to be a good coach: Coaches don’t need to be experts in every subject matter; they need to be experts at asking the right questions to help others gain clarity and find their own solutions. 
  • Coaching is only useful when formally assessing performance, for example for appraisals: Creating a coaching culture within a school will have an impact across the organisation. Coaching erodes limiting beliefs, instils self-belief and growth and can be used in many informal conversations from the kitchen to the staffroom. It is an effective way to challenge others every day to develop and deliver their best performance.
  • It’s not my job to coach: It’s the role of every leader and every teacher, who supports others to drive progress and results through engaging others and empowering them to achieve personal and collective goals.  
  • It doesn’t work: Good teachers don’t necessarily have the right skills to be able to do coaching in a meaningful way, so are not doing coaching very well. When coaching is professionalised and formalised it is given the value that it deserves and as a result will get the impact schools to want.

Historically teachers have studied for relevant qualifications to enter the profession with enough subject matter knowledge to enable them to transfer their knowledge to their pupils and students.  There are further qualifications available for senior leadership teams to help senior teachers to set a vision, create an action plan, manage staff by telling them what their job is and hold them accountable if they don’t do it potentially, but little or no time is given to personal development that allows a teacher to impart knowledge to create a change in others the way coaching can. 

Where can you apply coaching in education?
  • Within the leadership team to facilitate clarity around purpose and direction
  • Between leaders and staff to motivate and challenge performance
  • To conduct performance management reviews and any informal reviews of performance
  • To use as a problem-solving tool to address specific issues or achieve specific goals
  • To be used by teachers in the classroom to promote more student engagement and effective, independent learning
  • To encourage pupils to peer coach and tutor, give effective feedback and self-regulate behaviour
  • To more effectively articulate a position to governors or parents, to effectively deal with parental questions and challenges.
  • To improve student and staff well-being through gaining a greater understanding of their current thinking, actions and suggestions
  • In any situation that requires dialogue or the ability to impart or elicit information, improve understanding, solve problems, develop self-awareness and ask others to take personal responsibility to achieve individual or organisational goals. 

City Skills Launches New Coaching Professional Apprenticeship

City Skills, in partnership with education training specialists Olevi, have created a new Coaching Professional Level 5 apprenticeship.  

In a bid to professionalise coaching in schools and wider business settings, the apprenticeship, which can be funded by the apprenticeship levy , has two pathways designed to equip senior teachers and business leaders with the tools and techniques to improve performance and facilitate growth through individual, team and leadership coaching, while also creating the framework to embed a coaching culture within an organisation’s wider practice and approach?

The Coaching Professional Apprenticeship is delivered over fourteen months and ensures coaches working in a variety of organisations can develop the advanced theory, skills and strategies to engage and empower others to enhance their professional performance by building self-belief and encouraging individuals to be self-aware, making them better equipped to collaborate, innovate and deal with daily challenges in the classroom and in business.

Damian Mitchelmore, Managing Director of the OLEVI Alliance explains the ethos behind the new coaching apprenticeship.

“All organisations, whether they are an education setting or a business, are striving to get the best out of their people. Formalised coaching gives them the space to think deeply about how to solve a problem, how to move themselves – and their teams or students -forward, but it also provides a platform for them to be held accountable, be responsible for their progress and that is a key element.”

Coaching empowers others

“This new qualification will develop expert coaches that are able to work with people, in a non-directive way, helping them to learn and grow but importantly, empowering them to be responsible for their own actions. This takes the onus away from leaders, who instead of taking on more and more responsibility empower their teams which actually leads to shared ownership of goals and provides a sense of fulfilment for all parties.”

“The coachee may not know how to solve a problem, that’s ok, but what is important is keeping the responsibility away from the leader or the coach and making them responsible for solving it eventually.”

Coaching describes the process of bringing out the best in others by using key active listening skills and asking probing questions, where the intention is the coachee is responsible for finding solutions rather than being told or led to a certain conclusion. In this way, coaching is a key skill for middle and senior school leaders that support or manage others. Whether the outcome is a change in behaviour, a performance appraisal or the requirement is to develop others for leadership roles, there is a wide spectrum of skills that coaching develops overtime to assist growth on both a personal and professional basis.

Coaching in organisations 

The impact of coaching skills within an organisation is far greater than just the individuals who study the qualification and the coachees they work with. The ripple effect of a coaching culture can be felt throughout the corridors, staff rooms and classrooms of a whole school.

“If we professionalise a group of people in an organisation as coaches, what we typically see is that they use their skills in daily practice, not just in formalised coaching situations, but also in the staff room or the corridor when someone approaches them and says ‘ I don’t know what to do’. Rather than give them the answer, they will empower them to take responsibility to appreciate where they are now, what they want to achieve and how are they going to move forward – and keep moving forward.”

“Coaching is about shifting someone’s mindset so that they believe in growing other people. The Coaching Professional Apprenticeship transforms people into coaches that fundamentally believe the people that they work with can solve their own problems and can grow”, says Damian.

Immediate impact

One of the major benefits of the delivery model for this apprenticeship is that coaches will have the opportunity to engage with people outside of their organisation. This means that senior teachers could be honing their skills, listening and working with business leaders and CEOs of larger companies, learning about very different experiences, which adds to the learning experience and develops a coach’s appreciation of different techniques and contexts.

By the end of their apprenticeship coaches will be competent to work as professional coaches and have developed enough skills not to require further formal training. Throughout the apprenticeship, coaches will be required to work with a range of people, including those that are more senior or identified as challenging within their organisation during a series of formalised coaching sessions. This will establish, not only what they have learned, but also whether they have developed the mindset and embedded the skills required to engage and empower others.

Ultimately, apprentices will be accountable, not just for doing the apprenticeship, but for using their new knowledge, skills and behaviours to achieve a real impact for their organisation.

Says Damian, “Our coaching experts will challenge each learner through professional coaching and training to develop the core skills needed to be a successful leader in a fast-changing digital environment. The success of the programme is measured not only by the skills they gain, but by the impact they have on their organisation.

Professional registration and progression

On completion, the apprentice will be qualified as a Level 5 coaching professional and affiliated to several international accrediting bodies. 

Apprenticeships: Coaching Skills for Senior School Leaders

Every school needs a strong, highly skilled team of senior leaders supporting the head teacher to inspire, lead and sustain improvement across the school.

But, every senior leader working in the current educational landscape is subject to considerable scrutiny and pressure to raise standards and ensure a quality learning experience for all students.

For those that line manage others, it is essential that they have the skills that will have a strong, positive impact on levels of motivation within the staff and improve teaching and learning standards for all. Many of the skills required for this type of impact stem from coaching.
Coaching is a broad term used to describe the process of bringing out the best in others using a two way dialogue where the intention is to involve the coachee in finding solutions through a process of effective questioning and listening. In this way coaching is a key skill for middle and senior school leaders that supports a number of their daily challenges. Whether it is giving difficult feedback, conducting performance management reviews or developing others for leadership roles, there are a wide spectrum of skills that coaching develops over time to assist growth on both a personal and professional basis.

Chris McGeehan, Education Tutor from City Skills, explains why the highly practical Professional Coaching in education apprenticeship Level 5, which specialises in teaching the strategies and techniques for team, group or individual coaching, can help develop the key skills and approaches that will raise engagement and performance levels, in order to create a positive impact on both professional development and student learning and outcomes.

“The purpose of coaching in education settings -and not just for staff but as a teaching method -goes right to the core ethos of pedagogy; what does outstanding practice or outstanding teaching and learning look like?

We know that there are lots of different ways it’s defined around the world; some countries in Asia use long school lectures to embed learning and we can explain the model justify its purpose, but in other cultures, including the UK, we are trying to develop a more independent learning approach within students. We’re not interested in exam factories, so we need to learn how to make other people think and this is what coaching does brilliantly.

From a peer to peer perspective, coaching skills are absolutely fundamental when working with others. In an average school setting, there are so many almost daily interactions with TAs, parents, stakeholders, carers, governors, even Ofsted inspectors and we can make those interactions far more effective. Having coaching skills means we can listen far more effectively, we can direct a conversation and create a space in a given period of time in which someone else can think much more strategically and effectively.

This approach absolutely applies the classroom as well, whether we are working with young people from reception age right through to A-level students. A level of coaching knowledge can improve the richness of the conversations we have that enables both learning in the classroom and colleague collaboration to be far more effective.

Think of the impact a highly trained coach, who has completed 15 months of learning on an apprenticeship with the opportunity to think about the quality of their coaching, the quality of their interactions and how they lead others would have in a school environment. If someone was really listening to teachers, learning about what kind of teacher, or what kind of leader they wanted to be and was facilitating their career growth, that would be phenomenal.

We’ve seen the effect that individual and leadership coaching can have in business over the last 30 years or so, why wouldn’t we apply that to our schools?”

About the Coaching Professional in Education Apprenticeship

This apprenticeship is designed to provide leaders with the tools and techniques to grow the quality of teaching and learning across schools and Multi Academy Trusts. 

As a Professional coach, working in education settings it teaches the latest professional knowledge and skills to empower others to be more responsible for their vocational and professional development across any organisation.

This highly practical apprenticeship is designed to introduce key coaching skills, tools and approaches that can be used in daily roles. It also equips leaders and managers with coaching skills that are vital in supporting colleagues to achieve their personal and departmental goals and targets.

If you are part of a Multi Academy Trust or Local Authority and feel this programme is right for a group of your schools, get in touch