Coaching for sustainable development or just working on the observation profile: What are we really doing in the FE sector?


Current challenges

In the FE sector, are we coaching teachers with real development in mind or just to move them from one observation grade box to another on our spreadsheets? This may sound harsh but conversations with coaches in a range of colleges have highlighted this concern and made me feel somewhat troubled at the direction of travel. With increasing pressure within the sector to accelerate improvement, it is easy for coaches to feel that it is imperative they help their coachees to secure that magic grade two, which is taken as a sign of “coaching success”, of the teacher “having improved”. This can lead to an almost exclusive focus on fixing the “faults” seen in the lesson that was graded as a three or four, to the exclusion of deeper, more reflective work on developing the teacher’s practice.

To me, this seems to be a misguided use of coaching…

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I work as a Reader in Education at Birmingham City University. Prior to this I was the co-founder of the Centre for Research and Development in Lifelong Education (CRADLE) and a principal lecturer in post-compulsory education at the University of Wolverhampton. I have worked as a teacher, teacher educator, head of department and educational researcher for over 20 years in colleges, schools and universities in England, Mexico and Spain. Much of my work and research is rooted in the field of teacher education, particularly exploring the relationship between education policy and the continuous professional development of teachers. I am well known for my work on classroom observation and am regarded as one of the first educational researchers in the UK to investigate and critique the practice of graded lesson observations. I am also the author of the 'Classroom Observation: A Guide to the Effective Observation of Teaching and Learning' (Abingdon: Routledge 2014). Qualifications: PhD in Education (University of Warwick); MA in Applied Linguistics & ELT (King's College London); PGCE in Spanish & ESL (UCE Birmingham), RSA DipTEFLA (King's College London & British Council Mexico City); BA (Hons) in French & Spanish (University of Southampton)

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