Tag Archives: barriers

Solutions to Coaching Barriers

3 Apr


Like any new project I have led in school there are barriers. Now I would like to look at the way of overcoming the barriers I talked about last time.

  • Accept this will take time   Don’t be impatient. Establishing a coaching programme may need to be in it for the long haul. Spend sufficient time gaining insight into the reality on the ground so that future visions can be specific to actual school conditions. This requires research, planning and networking. Out of this will come success
  • ‘Educate’ key individuals   You know who they are. Once you have that compelling rationale, back it up with case studies from other relevant organisations/high-profile individuals. Organise PLD, send staff to related conferences, and begin to organise coaching sessions for them with respected external coaches. A different voice saying the same message while frustrating for you is gold. Once key individuals can study, understand and experience the benefits of coaching they will be much more likely to prioritise it. ‘Educating’ key individuals is also likely to encourage the spontaneous emergence of ‘champions’ for the coaching cause. From these an individual with sufficient profile, charisma and influence can be approached to spearhead the creation of buy-in throughout the organisation.


  • Modification. Be prepared to change the vision. It is ok.
  • Remember, successful implementation of contextualised coaching programmes within your school takes time, determination and clear planning.  It will take a mind-shift. Interesting while this has been about coaching you could apply this to any item of leading change. What has been yours?

Barriers to Successful Coaching

2 Apr


Coaching is an important part of what we do at school now. For it to be effective several barriers need to be addressed. Different combinations of factors may contribute to the creation of barriers. We at school therefore need to get to grips with the sheer variety of obstacles, and then to gain insight into how they combine. Only then can coordinated strategies be put in place that may have a chance of overcoming the barriers to coaching (and a coaching style) which exist in any organisational context.

Here are some barriers:

Leadership culture     The tone set by leadership is crucial. Coaching will not be valued or prioritised lower down the SLT if it isn’t valued higher up. Look out particularly for dictatorial non-supportive leaders who ‘instruct’ or manage by threat and blame. Such leaders may find it very hard to accept that more supportive, non-dictatorial behaviours bring any benefits. SLT in such a context are unlikely to believe in the coaching ‘philosophy’ either, and may even perceive it as a negative influence.

Organisational prioritisation     Which activities does your school prioritise? Those are the ones that will be fast-tracked. If coaching is not on the priority list as an activity to be implemented as part of the overall learning and development strategy, plans to introduce it won’t get very far very fast. Without prioritisation, coaching will not be viewed by SLT as a valuable process. It must be the focus of PLD and connect to the annual goals.

Lack of preparation     Yes I have seen it and you have too. Sometimes SLT is interested in establishing coaching programmes. Bazinga. But programmes can and will fail if there has been insufficient preparation to ensure their success. It’s then very easy for the programmes to take the blame rather than the lack of preparation. Expect negative attitudes to and lack of respect for coaching to be the result. Even worse, if and when anyone else tries to introduce a coaching programme, their first hurdle will be lack of cooperation, lack of resource allocation and general cynicism.

Note: The following is a major barrier to any new project:

  • Lack of a clear ‘champion’ of the process     If the push for modification of structures/schedules does not come from the top, any campaign for reallocation of resources and time will make little progress. The campaign needs an obvious and respected champion who can drive modifications through. Without such a champion momentum will not be achieved.


Barriers to Innovation

23 Jun


It’s amazing to me how many fantastic, game-changing tools are blocked on some school networks. I’m not saying we should remove all filters – they do help to prevent us from accidentally stumbling onto things we don’t want to see and can’t unsee. But in 2017, our filters do almost nothing to prevent students from intentionally accessing inappropriate material. Blocking content is ineffectual for four reasons: (1) Most students have smartphones with a direct connection to the internet. (2) Most students have unfiltered internet at home. (3) Any student who walks home through the city centre has unfiltered access to the internet. (4) Students know about VPN services which bypasses our filters.

Over-strict filters just thwart our best teachers’ efforts to make learning more meaningful. Our failed attempts to keep a few miscreant students from doing the wrong thing just hampers the majority of students who want to use the internet for the right thing.

Inturn our attempts at innovation are being imped that we are making hard for those teachers who have outrageous ideas. The are being boxed in by logistics. As a SLT we must create the space.

Often, as teachers gain the authority to influence and effect change in a school, their openness to change diminishes. Teachers enter the teaching profession wide-eyed and keen to try lots of different things and experiment with new pedagogies. They don’t have much power though because they are seen as “green” by older, wiser, more seasoned teachers who hold the decision-making power. I’ve seen young teachers silenced, gossiped about and even bullied because more experienced teachers took offence at these young, upstarts thinking they know a better way to do things. Eventually these new teachers learn to tone it down and conform to ‘the way things are done around here’. The most effective school leaders I have seen, identify innovators (irrespective of their seniority or experience) and invest them with the ability to influence.

In our inquiry we must create space and cut down barriers if we are to keep students at the centre.


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