Future 50: How coaching can help heads’ performance – and wellbeing

Mary-Jo Hill of Coach for School Improvement

Mary-Jo Hill says coaching helps heads form focused strategies for schools and boosts their wellbeing - Credit: Coach for School Improvement

Coaching for the professions is a huge growth area – globally it's now a billion-dollar industry. But it’s not only high-flying executives who can benefit from it. As one of the toughest academic years ever draws to a close, Mary-Jo Hill of Coach for School Improvement says it can pay dividends for top teachers.


The Future 50 programme is supported by the partner businesses - Credit: Archant

“Head teachers like to put others before themselves,” she says. “It’s hard for them to acknowledge that it’s worth investing a little bit of money in themselves - yet they're often among a school’s most expensive assets. 

“It's a maintenance thing: you wouldn't let your car break down. Not when you know you can prevent it by having it serviced. Coaching as a structured strategy for leadership is about staying power and wellbeing.”

Since the pandemic began, Coach for School Improvement has worked with more than 50 head teachers across Norfolk. “Many thrived at that beginning, where they had to be very responsive - that's a gift many heads have,” Mary-Jo says. 

“But to have to do it for so long, in such a relentless fashion, is exhausting. Also there's a frustration when so much has been imposed from top down. Often at the last minute.”

Coach for School Improvement

The past year has piled extra pressure on head teachers. Coaching is a way of making sure they can keep going - Credit: Coach for School Improvement

The head of a school needs to be able to talk with an impartial, independent coach – knowing everything is confidential. “The headteachers we’ve worked with have taken valuable action as a result, as they’ve formed structured, focused strategies,” says Mary-Jo. 

Quite aside from the challenges of managing changing Covid rules on top of all the traditional issues of the school budget and academic achievement, heads are having to address growing pressures on everything from safeguarding to staff wellbeing. 

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“Head teachers are beginning to say, ’Actually I need to put myself first, otherwise I'm not going to survive this’,” says Mary-Jo. 

“Usually when coaching is presented to governors, they wholeheartedly support it,” she concludes. “It fits with their duty of care and it's practical... Especially when you think how long and difficult it can be to replace a head teacher if they break down.”

For more information, see www.coachforschoolimprovement.co.uk

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