Creating A Coaching Culture In Your School – Part 1

by Annie Boate

Creating A Coaching Culture In Your School – Part 1

by Annie Boate

by Annie Boate

Part 1: Creating A Coaching Culture In Your School

What’s a Coaching Culture?


As a Headteacher of 15 years, I know from experience that developing a coaching culture across the school over time impacts positively on so many aspects of school improvement.

CoachingInSchools helped me to achieve that coaching culture over the last 8 years at my school; and it’s still going strong.

So, what does a coaching culture look like?

It’s a culture where staff expect to find solutions to their own problems because, as leaders, we’ve taught them that they have the capacity to do just that – take leadership of their own challenges, by adopting a positive, solution-focussed coach-approach.

Let me ask you a question – how many of you have experienced staff bringing problems to your door and expecting a quick-fix, or even worse, leaving you with the problem and walking away, burden-free?

-Or doing the same to other members of SLT?

-Or even SLT doing it to you???

And how do we respond when that happens?

If we’re honest, we usually try to come up with a solution because…that’s our job, isn’t it? We are the omniscient, omnipotent leaders of the school, and if we don’t have the answer, who does?

The problem is that, when we constantly fix people’s challenges for them, we teach them to be reliant on us…and that’s disempowering for them. It’s also time consuming, draining and unsustainable for us.

Let’s be honest, some leaders (none of us, of course…) suffer from an arrogant belief that they’re the only ones with the answer because they’re cleverer, more experienced, and more gifted than anyone else. They positively thrive on being seen as the ‘go-to person’ whenever there’s a problem. It allows them to keep all the power… and the confidence!

As school leaders, we have a duty to establish a coaching culture because we humbly believe that everyone is capable of owning their challenges, and finding their own solutions, even the pupils.

As effective leaders, we want our staff and pupils to be open and honest with us. We want them to feel empowered to say “I’m finding this challenging.” 

A coaching culture promotes that honesty because there’s no loss of ownership or power.

And that’s because, when we’ve been trained to take a coach-approach, we resist the urge to ‘fix’ their challenge for them. Instead, we ask the right questions to get their ideas on how they can fix it, thereby empowering them and increasing their confidence & self-leadership skills.

And when all staff have been trained in adopting a coach approach, they do that for each other, for the pupils, and even for the parents. No more ‘fixing’ things for others – just having the right conversation to help them ‘fix’ things for themselves.

So, if we want to free ourselves up as leaders to focus on strategy (and create synergistic effects across our schools), then we need to distribute our leadership throughout the school. And for that to happen, we need to create staff who feel truly empowered to lead themselves, lead the pupils, and lead others.

The good news is that a coaching culture will support and sustain that model of distributed leadership.

So, in a nutshell, these are the key benefits to creating a coaching culture across your school:

  • Staff adopt a positive, solution-focussed approach
  • Staff (and pupils) are empowered to find their own solutions to their challenges
  • Promotes distributed leadership
  • Leaders are freed up to lead strategically
  • There is a collective belief in ongoing personal & professional growth
  • Promotes an honest, open ethos across the school

…But ONLY if you do it right!

Look out for my next post, where I’ll explain what training you need and show you how it works.

Monica Austin (Headteacher)

>> Book a FREE Strategic Consultation (worth £500) to discover how to create a ‘coaching culture’ in your school to accelerate school improvement