Coaching and positive psychology

Paying attention to the focus and wellbeing of our colleagues.

Alongside the first part of the programme, we believe it is crucial we pay attention to the focus and wellbeing of our colleagues. Building a coaching climate through positive psychology will help colleagues channel their energy into purposeful work. We need all teachers to feel that they are part of the solution and at the heart of this change; that they are listened to and invested in. Many other professions such as nursing or social work have clinical supervision by right – an opportunity to share their practice and discuss their decisions – a sort of coaching. It is obvious that teachers need that. It is by supporting them and making them the heart of the change, that we will re-instil the purpose that will lead to the very best of outcomes for their students.

With our partners Mindspan, we identified that it is crucial that we think about our SELF, our LIFE and the WORLD around us every day. To fulfil our potential, it is important we develop various competencies: Focus, Belief, Responsibility, Attitude, Purpose, Clarit Emotion, Empathy, and Influence. The core purpose of a school leader is to achieve the very best for all learners in the school, but they can only achieve this with the full support of his/her colleagues each able to give of their best. Change is messy and impacts on every teacher differently. As such the leader needs to be adaptive and needs to understand the different mindsets across the school. If they do not take account of these mindsets and the wellbeing of the team the positive outcomes will be lessened.

This is not just a treatise for our time. It is a recommendation for all times. But just as with students, the pandemic will have impacted not just on the professional but also the personal life of all staff in schools. It will have undermined confidences and it will have made people re assess the balance in their lives. Setting new personal and professional goals in a supportive and focused way will give us chance to establish the motivation – rediscovering the purpose, recognising the investment in the craft and repertoire of teaching, and given the trust and confidence to bring that skill to one’s own work in one’s own way will release in enormous creativity in the profession.

We aim to work with our schools to:

  1. Create a coaching expert in each school backed by a professional qualification.
  2. Build a set of tools for all schools to work with their staff to re-establish their motivation.
  3. Give all staff a chance for personal reflection on their self and life, and how this can be mobilised to maximise their professional effectiveness. This delivered in a personalised way.
  4. Create space and time for everyone to establish a comprehensive set of goals that is much more than the targets.
  5. Bring institutional clarity to the changes schools plan to make, so everyone can align their professional goals to a collective effort.
  6. Identify how schools can create the space and time for effective coaching.
  7. Through the creation of coaching groups and a systematic approach to improved teaching and learning, build teacher efficacy so that it drives a ‘bottom-up approach’ to school improvement and the best of outcomes for young people.

More and more people are interested in developing a coaching climate in their school and you will find an adjective in front of ‘coaching’ from many sources e.g., academic coaching, instructional coaching. You will also find confusion between coaching and mentoring and training, all of which are important but have different purposes.

Instructional coaching would seem to create a construct of two important aspects of our school improvement framework – namely instructional leadership and peer coaching. And it can have great effectiveness. However, it risks creating a hierarchy, and not building the full social capital that engages all teachers in an improvement quest. It risks bringing judgment and challenge that can undermine mutual appreciative inquiry, teacher practice and learning. With a strong instructional core at the heart of the professional development cycle, this approach builds the sort of trust that enables teachers to be reflective and self-reviewing.

The Global Spirit Ed programme will firstly energise all staff through an understanding and development of their own powerful and solutions-focused thinking. It will then align their personal goals to the school’s professional goals and the development of a strong instructional teaching and learning framework personalised to each school. Finally, teachers will be able to work together in coaching triads or small groups to practice and refine their own teaching repertoire.

Phase 2 Appreciation and Problems of Practice

After the school has spent its first year working through and developing its teaching strategies in line with its theories of action, they may want to extend the appreciative approach to a wider group of observers. It may be that over the first part of cycle the school thought there were other areas where they did not see practice in the instructional round but for which they feel should be an important part of school development. They may feel for instance that there was little sense of enquiry, or little sense of the development of systematic personal skills. 

Because there are some very subject or phase specific aspects of teaching methods, the school may want an appreciative review by heads of department/faculty or phase leaders. This might lead to new theories of action that are more tuned to their subject or phase. 

We woud expect leadership teams to continue their learning walks and it may be from self-review or from these walks, that you identify a problem of practice. You could seek examples of good practice across the school, but it may be that you want to fashion a new theory of action identifying the attributes and practice you would want to see. 

Collaborative Peer Review

The final stage and probably no earlier than the end of the second year, we would encourage schools to invite colleagues from across the network to complete a collaborative peer review. Throughout this paper we have talked about the ambitions we share that will best prepare young people.

  1. Building high performing self-regulated learners
  2. Building a professional transparent approach to teaching and learning
  3. Establishing a common purpose and positive mindset in all our colleagues
  4. Developing instructional and adaptive leadership
  5. Not just research led teachers but researching teachers sharing their experiences
  6. Transforming practice holistically across the school

The collaborative review will not just look at teaching but with an appreciative lens arrange meetings with staff, leaders, and students. Using a range of rubrics, the team will report back on instructional leadership, curriculum design and teaching and learning. These are building blocks by which we live our moral purpose. 


Building Collaborative Review in a trusted appreciative environment enables dialogue and analysis and ends with an agreed action plan. David Gregory pointed out that many reviews are really quality reviews against standards often mimicking OFSTED or similar processes. This is not to say these benchmarks are not valuable as a checking system external against high accountability framework. They are not however likely to provide a holistic action focused report from the Global Spirit Ed strategy built on a range of previous processes and actions. It is no less robust.