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Engagement Coaches

Engagement Coaches supported students in Year 9 and 10 to engage positively with learning. Coaches were trained in best practice approaches to engagement and learning behaviours.


Head Teachers / School Leaders, Local Authorities, Pastoral and Support Staff

Aimed at

KS3, KS4


Inclusion and SEND, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Raising Attainment, Workforce: Recruitment, Retention and Development


CPD, Student/Family Support

Why was the project needed?

In Spring 2021, secondary schools shared significant concerns about the health and wellbeing needs of some of their pupils and gaps in learning. This was in part a response to the pandemic and an increase in the number of students identified as struggling. It was also recognised that staff would welcome additional training in effective approaches to learning behaviours and independent learning strategies.

What happened and what was the impact?

6 Engagement Coaches were recruited to work with Year 9 & 10 students to provide coaching support and to act as a consistent point of contact throughout academic year 2021-22.  Coaches also provided outreach support to the parents of students to support a positive parent/school partnership and facilitated access to, and encouraged, students to participate in additional tutoring or curriculum sessions.

Each Coach, alongside their manager in school, created an implementation plan with suggested changes to school systems to better support pupils, based on the understanding they have from this role and from sharing their approaches with other schools.

What did and didn't work?

Anecdotal feedback from Coaches clearly identifies examples where this support has had a positive impact. Coaches describe how pupils have responded positively to 1:1 support, many seem to have improved wellbeing, engagement with learning is higher and students exhibit less in-school truancy.

Schools were given the flexibility to tailor aspects of the project to their individual circumstances so that the role was a good fit with their existing staffing, strategies and longer-term plans.  This worked well for schools but did mean that reporting and analysis of impact can’t be so clearly evidenced given small differences in the approach.

How did you measure success?

Coaches have worked with over 200 pupils during Spring & Summer Terms (ranging from 20-40 per coach). Given the length of time of this support and the complex barriers to learning faced by many pupils, as well as wider interventions this group receive in school, significant improvements to attendance, behaviour and achievement via this support cannot be clearly evidenced.

More than a third of students who were supported by a coach have seen improved attendance. There is evidence that almost all pupils have remained in their school in a classroom learning environment and 90% of children who were supported by a coach have had no fixed term exclusions, or have had a reduction since the intervention.


Ingredients For Success

Costs for the full-time salary of an Engagement Coach (Higher Level TA scale) were covered by the Norwich Opportunity Area for 2021-22.

High quality training was delivered by Norwich Research School and fully funded by NOA.

Schools signed an MOU to participate in the project with clear guidelines for expected reports from the Coach and their line manager (a member of SLT).

Finding the right candidates for the Engagement Coach role was crucial, particularly in an environment where some schools have faced significant recruitment and retention issues with Teaching Assistant and pastoral roles.

Is the Project Complete or Ongoing

The funded Engagement Coach role is complete.  The majority of coaches have stayed on within their school in a similar role and will continue to share their learning with colleagues.

How is the Project Sustainable

An implementation plan was created by each Engagement Coach, with the support of their line manager.  This outlines a plan to further develop approaches that have been most successful within their school.

What are the Long Term Impacts

Feedback from Engagement Coaches gives confidence that the impact of this support for students who worked with a coach will continue as students have improved wellbeing and improved participation in learning.

I have supported students with lessons where it has been a lesson they have not attended for a long period and struggle to go this lesson. This has helped them get confidence to attend again and be able to do this without additional help … e.g. a student who had not been to a graphics lesson for a very long time. I went to this lesson with her … her teacher said that’s the best she has ever seen that student and it was great seeing her attend the lesson and try hard. Her work was of a strong standard and she just needed to break the barrier of being scared to go.

Engagement Coach

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Addressing truancy and supporting behaviour with an Engagement Coach - City Academy Norwich

Improving Attendance through an Engagement Coach - The Hewett Academy

Next steps to do something similar yourself

These are a list of Big Idea resources that you can use to implement in your setting:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Social and Emotional Learning here:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Putting Evidence to Work here:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning here:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Improving Behaviour here:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on SEND in Mainstream Schools here:

Champions and contacts


Norwich Opportunity Area Team
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