Approaches to Instructional Coaching: personalising CPD for teachers

by | Apr 25, 2023 | Coaching, Curriculum, Leadership


Approaches to Instructional Coaching: personalising CPD for teachers

Curriculum cohesion requires very carefully thought through decisions about what to teach, when to teach it and how to create the pedagogy that counts. This involves subject leaders, phase leaders and teachers being a part of a process that determines what it is that the school wants pupils to achieve at very clearly defined and sequential end points on their journey towards becoming successful learners. Curriculum, pedagogy and learning are intrinsically linked and a powerful way to create the symbiosis is through the development of a coaching culture that drives excellence and achievement across the whole school.

There is a gathering momentum to concentrate on the American approach to a deep focus on pedagogy and learning through the medium of instructional coaching. Instruction is a word that bothers me in relation to coaching, it is a word that is diametrically opposite to the absolute definition of coaching, see below,

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”

John Whitmore: (2002) Coaching for Performance and People

The use of the term instructional was first introduced by Jim Knight an education commentator from the USA and it does remain potentially very useful in our quest in the UK to develop models of in-service training that create a culture where pedagogical professional development leads to a partnership approach to excellence in teaching and learning. Here at Learning Cultures coaching is a byword for the best possible CPD. It creates an atmosphere of trust, powerful learning and a desire to create the highest quality outcomes for all pupils and staff. We therefore embrace instructional coaching but would like to change the name instruction, perhaps pedagogical coaching is more appropriate to our sensibilities about the term instructional.

Change, challenge and coaching to create curriculum cohesion

Instructional or pedagogical coaches are solutions focused and provide the answer to ensuring the provision of a CPD strategy for whole school improvement is based on ensuring that the curriculum is delivered in a way that ensures pupils build on their prior learning and are inspired to want to find out more. The instructional coach works with a teacher in the pursuance of positive and effective change that leads to powerful pedagogy and deep learning. The process must be two-way and something that the teacher wants to engage in as much as the coach or their senior or line manager.

Approaches to Instructional Coaching: personalising CPD for teachers A live webinar, on demand course or join us for an opportunity to be in a venue with a trainer, networking and lunch.

Coaching creates a prevailing culture that ensures that there is a genuine belief in self-improvement linked to the school vision and ambition for every pupil and for all staff. The role of the coach is never to tell others what to do, it is to create an atmosphere of trust where there is a partnership linked to the process of continuous improvement that will make a significant difference to ensuring all pupils and staff can achieve their full potential.

The relationship between the teacher and the coach must be built on agreed goals and a strategy that leads to genuine change for the teacher in relation to how they teach subject knowledge, are creative and innovative with their pedagogy, stimulate learning and feel inspired in their pursuit of ongoing professional development and continuous improvement. The coach must have a deep knowledge of the pedagogy of excellence that leads to high quality outcomes within and beyond the classroom. 

Instructional or pedagogical coaching to create a culture or professional learning

The potential for coaching to become the most sustainable and cost – effective CPD strategy in any school or college is within the grasp of all those with responsibility for continuous school improvement. Coaching can support the well-being of all staff and pupils and most definitely builds cohesion and collaboration linked to curriculum design and delivery. Where staff work together to pursue a common whole school vision there is a strong collective approach to excellence. Where subject leaders and teams work together, they can build a cohesive curriculum that weaves knowledge, skills and learning within subjects and across the curriculum. The instructional or pedagogical coach has an important role to play in the shaping of a catalyst for change and challenge in the pursuit of excellence in pedagogy and learning.

Instructional or pedagogical coaches work with teachers to shape their goals for self and role improvement linked to the whole school vision and its ambition for pupils. They are there to encourage, support, listen and to create opportunities for the individual teacher to think about their practice, what they know they do well and what it is that they would like to learn more about, improve upon of try a strategy they have not tried before. The coach’s role is to not to judge or direct but to give the teacher the confidence and self-belief that they can find their own solutions, take measured risks with their approaches in the classroom and redefine their paradigms. 

The ultimate answer to the question, ‘What will success look like?’ in relation to adopting a coaching approach to defining your goals for continuing professional development and learning is to be able to say that teachers welcome the opportunity to be observed, to work with a coach and to share their desire to find ways to continuously improve by working in partnership with someone who can share and cascade their own expertise so that learning becomes an everyday part of the school culture. 

Approaches to Instructional Coaching: personalising CPD for teachers. Join us on 23rd June for an opportunity to work with an expert coach to develop or enhance your skills as a coach and as an expert in pedagogy and learning. You can also take part in this course as an online webinar.

Coaching leadership, team coaching and a certification route to coaching competence

As well as one day courses we can also offer our coaching training as INSET or we can work with senior and middle leadership teams over time to support them to develop as coaches. We offer certification routes all endorsed by the Association for Coaching and all our coaches have experience as senior school leaders as well as recognised coaching qualifications.

Developing a team of instructional or pedagogical coaches can have a very powerful impact on learning and provide the evidence that there is a deep commitment by all teachers, their subject teams and leaders that the curriculum they deliver is meaningful, has depth and breadth and leads to high quality outcomes for all pupils. 

Where senior leaders develop their coaching skills or work together as part of a team in the quest for coaching excellence the opportunity to create a truly inspired community of learning and continuous improvement is profound. Learning Cultures’ Senior Leadership Coaching Certification programme is having a measurable impact on senior leadership cohesion and potential. 

Where individuals or teams of professionals in schools and colleges want to formalise their learning as coaches and develop a range of coaching skills to support colleagues and pupils, the Certificate in Coaching Competence is a learning journey that provides expert tuition and on-the job practice and learning. A very popular programme that has delivered outstanding results.


New Books


The book ‘Primary Curriculum Design and Delivery by Glynis Frater‘ has now been published.

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