Developing Middle Leaders, Coaching and Reflection

Good Practice:

In Upton:

At our Curriculum Leaders meeting on Monday Mrs Dixon emphasised the following:

The engine room of the school, middle leaders are heads of department or year, or leaders of whole-school areas such as Gifted and Talented or English as an Additional Language. They lead teams of teachers – turning the senior leadership’s strategy into outstanding classroom practice on a daily basis. High-performing middle leaders drive consistent teacher quality in their areas of responsibility through curriculum leadership, lesson observations, holding staff to account and developing staff. They also ensure consistency across the school by collaborating and challenging their fellow middle leaders, influencing whole-school behaviours through sharing, coaching and mentoring. As Russell Hobby (2012) says:

‘Middle leaders have more day-to-day impact on standards than headteachers. Middle leaders are, simply, closer to the action. Teachers’ and pupils’ experience of leadership comes most frequently from their middle leaders. And the essential work of curriculum planning, monitoring and developing teaching belongs with middle leaders.’ 


In order to develop as a school we need a policy focused on developing a cadre of outstanding middle leaders with the skills to address within-school variation could become critical to closing the achievement gap. If middle leaders are to reduce within school variation, they need to pass two tests: the first is to drive consistently outstanding teaching within departments on a daily basis; and the second test is to work collaboratively across the school to ensure consistency between departments.

So what next?

Middle Leadership Support & Training Possibilities

Develop your Leadership Style, including:

  • Knowing what inspectors look for in outstanding middle leaders
  • Benchmarking and auditing your own strengths and weaknesses
  • Understand how to write, evaluate and make the best use of action plans

Elements of Outstanding Management, including:

  • Understanding the key differences between leadership and management which style and when it is appropriate
  • Preparing for Ofsted: know their criteria in your areas and their methods of scrutiny and evaluation

Reach Goals as a Team, including:

  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Leading observation and evaluations
  • Ensuring feedback is effective; structuring debriefs and appraising levels of progress
  • Know what makes your staff tick. Stimulate intrinsic motivators and understand the driving force of a sense of accountability and responsibility
  • Learn how to inspire others

(See How to be an Amazing Middle leader in the recommended reads below)

Mrs Dixon invited members of the group to offer suggestions on how to move forward. She also emphasised the need for consistency as discussed at our last Curriculum Leaders meeting:

  1. We agreed that we need to ensure that all staff follow consistent routines
  2. We agreed that when physically possible, students would line up. Standing behind the desk would be used to make sure that students are calm and ready to learn.
  3. There was total agreement that class dismissal needed to be calm and orderly because:
    • the health and safety of the students is paramount.
    • a disorderly dismissal is likely to have a negative impact on the next lesson
    • a disorderly dismissal has a negative effect on behaviour outside the classroom ie in corridors and travel routes
    • Consistent expectations regarding the way we do things here, the “Upton way” which students need to follow and be reminded of by all

When members of staff are not consistent the effectiveness of routines break down like the marbles falling when the sticks are pulled out in a game of Kaplunk:

Good Practice found on social media:

Top 10 UK Education Blogs 2015:

  1. @TeacherToolkit (ranked 1st in 2014)
  2. The Learning Spy (ranked 2nd in 2014)
  3. ICTEvangelist (new entry)
  4. Mr. P’s ICT Blog (new entry)
  5. The Whiteboard Blog (new entry)
  6. Scenes From The Battleground (up 1 place from 2014)
  7. Magical Maths (new entry)
  8. Learning with ‘e’s (new entry)
  9. ClassThink (new entry)
  10. Agility – Teaching Toolkit (new entry)

5 emails

Staff shout out:

So, why not set up a staff shout out board?
 Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 11.08.12
  • Staff can share their thanks with their colleagues
  • Students can share their thanks with their teachers
Set up a shout out board in your tutor group? Your GCSE/A Level class when others have learnt something from others?
Share and replace:
How It Works:Create a display- preferably by your staff photocopier?Have some plastic folders with a poster in stating-
Next to those plastic folders- another poster stating-
‘PHOTOCOPY THE REshare and replaceSOURCE YOU WANT- REPLACE IT WITH ANOTHER?’Idea is that staff take a resource sheet that has been left there and simply replace it with another?
It really does work!Try it?Variations:

Use it in your dept?
Use it for revision?
Use it as an activity?

 Brain Food:



gibbs 2

Article of the week:

Coaching v mentoring: what works best for teachers? Teacher Andrew Jones explains the difference between coaching and mentoring, and how they suit different professional development needs.

Most teachers have been mentored at some point in their career – whether as a PGCE student, a newly qualified teacher (NQT) or after a promotion. Not many of us can say we have been “coached”, however. In fact, few of us would be able to give a clear definition or comparison of the two.

Coaching has become a buzzword in education over recent years and there are now numerous organisations promoting it in schools. Many training providers have cottoned on to this method of professional development, which has its roots in business leadership and as a psychological approach to performance in sport.

So, what is the difference between mentoring and coaching and how do they differ in teaching practice? In a nutshell, mentoring is a way of managing career transition whereas coaching is used whenever an individual feels the need to evaluate their professional capabilities, allowing for genuine continuous professional development (CPD).

Mentoring is a supportive, long-term relationship between an experienced mentor and their less experienced mentee. The idea is that the more senior mentor passes on knowledge and guidance as the mentee finds their feet in a new role.

In state education, mentoring is often structured around fulfilling standards, such as performance management targets, which provides plenty of documentary evidence of the mentoring and its outcomes. The process ends when the mentee is confident or capable enough to carry on with their duties without oversight.

Coaching, on the other hand, consists of peer-to-peer discussions that provide the person being coached with objective feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in areas chosen by them. While discussion is led by the coach, they ask questions that allow the professional seeking advice to reflect on their practice and set their own goals for improvement. This is the opposite of mentoring as the coach does not evaluate, judge or set targets, and the person being coached is in full control of the discussion. Unlike mentoring, coaching also gives the recipient more say on the direction of their professional development and encourages them to take more ownership of their CPD.

My experience of coaching has been extremely positive. Although sceptical, perhaps even cynical, at first, I have taken part in an extensive training programme on coaching led by my school’s lead performance coach. Coaching requires practice and observation by the trainer, as well as learning about the theory and practice. Within my training cohort, I coached and was coached by a number of colleagues, from experienced teachers to PGCE students.

The best thing about it was that it gave me the freedom to discuss my needs and wants openly; I wasn’t self-conscious when assessing my strengths and weaknesses and had a chance to properly think about the direction I want my career to go in. My colleagues who coached me kept the conversation focused, realistic and effective. Interestingly, some of the most productive sessions came from being paired up with colleagues in very different roles, such as the site manager. It was also important that my coach was not line managing or hierarchically senior to me to facilitate an open and confidential warts-and-all discussion.

That doesn’t mean coaching should be based on informal chats, however. It requires adequate training – giving objective feedback can be hard for the inexperienced. A coach has to be aware of their own views and any prejudices or preconceptions they might have about the person they’re helping. Theory, training and practice is needed so that you’re mindful of the nuances of language and can control any temptation to be judgemental.

Although mentoring remains an essential component of career development, especially when moving onto a new role or when assessing performance management, coaching can be a useful tool for encouraging an individual to take ownership of their own career path. It’s the ability to take ownership of CPD that really separates coaching from mentoring.

Andrew Jones is head of religious studies and sociology at Goffs School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. Find his department website and on Twitter as @GoffsRS.

Recommended Reads:

1) How to be an Amazing Middle Leader Paperback by Caroline Bentley-Davies

Today the myriad skills needed to be an amazing middle leader in schools can seem mind-boggling. What s more Middle Leaders are taking up the leadership reins after gaining experience for far fewer years than ever before. Whetamazing middle leaderher you are new to this role or are more experienced and aspiring to become a school leader, this book will give you the vital information you need in order to understand what is really important about your role and how to improve your key skills. This practical everyday guide covers: The skills of an amazing Middle Leader Developing excellence in your team and sharing good practice How to inspire others against the backdrop of the busy day to day running of a school Preparation for inspection Effective delegation Middle Leader challenges and next steps. Leading a team and getting the right things done An outstanding guide for an often neglected group.

2) Perfect Teacher-Led CPD (Perfect (Independent Thinking Press)) Hardcover by Shaun Allison


All successful schools have one thing in common they are full of brilliant teachers. This doesn`t happen by chance. If schools are to develop their teachers into first rate reflective and high performing practitioners, they need a varied and personalised CPD programme based on collaboration and sharing best practice. This book looks at how schools can move away from the one size fits all approach to CPD that still exists in a number of schools, to a CPD programme that will appeal to a range of teachers, unlocking the potential that exists within the staffroom. It`s about excellence from within. The book covers; leadership, school improvement, staff development, teaching excellence, growth mindsets and much more.

3) The Perfect Teacher Coach Hardcover by Jackie Beere

Many schools are now recognising that using a coaching model is the very best way to make sustainable improvements in the standard of teaching, performance management and learnicoachingng across all departments. The Perfect Teacher Coach presents a simple and practical guide to making coaching work well in your school, in order to deliver consistently high standards. This is ever more important with Ofsted increasing the number of lesson observations and ‘evaluations of teaching and learning’, providing a key performance indicator, alongside student outcomes. Everything you need to know about what coaching is and how it works is provided in this book. This includes details of various models of coaching and how to implement a successful model suitable for your school, training your coaches and ensuring you have a sustainable performance management process that really works.


1) Guidance: National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML)

2) Teaching leaders: Why middle leadership? | Teaching Leaders

3) Making the most of middle leaders to drive change in schools

4) Three keys to middle leadership

5) Leading coaching in schools

6) powerpoint on coaching

7) Coaching for Teaching and learning