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Headteacher Coaching

Professional coaching for Norwich headteachers and senior leaders within schools and settings provided support with decision making and managing change during the pandemic.


Head Teachers / School Leaders, Local Authorities, School Teachers, Trusts

Aimed at



Leadership, Workforce: Recruitment, Retention and Development



Why was the project needed?

Feedback from schools and colleagues across the education system shared that headteachers and senior leaders within schools and settings were facing challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic above anything experienced previously.

What happened and what was the impact?

Funded professional coaching was offered to support schools with the obvious pressures school leaders were facing. The project aimed to support participants to feel more confident managing their school through the pandemic, improve self-awareness and to implement improved strategies to build their own professional wellbeing and resilience.  

17 primary schools accessed coaching support throughout the Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021 terms with a short series of six 1:1 coaching sessions with an established and high-quality local provider Coach for School Improvement. Attendance for participating headteachers was 100% and all participants completed all sessions.  

Seven of the participating schools valued the support to the extent that they continued with this offer for the 2021-22 academic year with funding through their own school finances.  

All participants fed back that:  

  • This support was valuable to them as a leader.
  • The coaching increased their personal insights into how they were managing others.  
  • They had developed specific strategies from their coaching sessions to good effect. 
  • They felt more confident managing their schools’ complex business environment and their staff, addressing issues such as staffing, capability, whole school change implementation plans, shifting approaches, curriculum, continuing professional development (CPD). 
  • They implemented improved strategies to build their own professional wellbeing and resilience.  

What did and didn't work?

The project was highly valued by participants but was designed as a short term funded offer from the Norwich Opportunity Area (NOA) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic so longer-term provision of this type of support needs to be supported by continued funding.  

The project was set up to offer participants a choice of 1:1 or group coaching sessions. Every participant chose to use the 1:1 offer as it best suited their varied needs and was the most efficient given pressures on time.  

In a handful of cases, the funded offer was passed on to a nominated member of the school’s Senior Leadership Team rather than being used by the headteacher as planned, where this was agreed to be most useful for the school.   

How did you measure success?

Success was measured directly from participants via a survey at the end of the coaching sessions. All participants agreed the project was valuable to them as a leader.


Ingredients For Success

Professional coaching from an established and high-quality local provider, with a background in the education sector and expertise in supporting leaders in education. The coaching approach was client led, independent and confidential.

Ensuring a focus on prioritising support for headteachers and senior leaders within education, which can be overlooked with pressure on budgets and competing demands across the school.  

Is the Project Complete or Ongoing

The funded project took place during 2020-21 academic year. Seven of the participating schools continued with the offer with funding from their own school finances.

How is the Project Sustainable

Professional coaching provided during the pandemic, when many education leaders faced significant challenges, supported participants to manage their school through these difficult circumstances.  

The range of topics raised and discussed by participants illustrate how the work of these coaching sessions will have a longer-term impact on their school and on their role as a leader, e.g., maximising staff potential, school development plans, succession planning and managing conflict. 

What are the Long Term Impacts

Supporting education leaders across Norwich to build their own professional wellbeing and resilience and to further develop confidence as leaders aims to build strength and expertise within the system.

Estimated Costs

The NOA funded the cost of Coach for School Improvement delivering coaching in the 2020-2021 academic year.

I have just finished my coaching and mentoring sessions.  It was such a great experience and I found it thoroughly beneficial especially as it made me take time out of my day to reflect on current matters. I felt instantly connected with her on our first zoom call and would thoroughly recommend her.

The coaching was incredibly well timed and did not fail to meet and exceed my expectations. It was such a positive experience!

I was able to work through problems and have a clear understanding of where I wanted to go after each session. It has been invaluable in allowing me to make future decision.

Feedback from headteachers and leaders who received coaching and mentoring through the Headteacher Coaching project.

Area Most Impacted


Recruitment, Retention & Development

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Coach for School Improvement - video case studies from secondary, primary and infant settings

Coach for School Improvement shows how coaching has been used to good effect in schools. Case studies shown in this video are from a Secondary School, a Primary School and Infant School.

Coach for School Improvement - Angel Road Infant and Junior School

Hear from Chris Read, former Headteacher at Angel Road Infant and Junior School, talking about working with Mary-Jo, at Coach for School Improvement, on a project to support middle leaders.

Next steps to do something similar yourself

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

Coach for School Improvement was founded by Mary-Jo Hill who offers coaching for school teachers and leaders. She has experience of working with over 50 schools in Norfolk, resulting in 1500+ hours of coaching. In these testimonial videos you can hear how her coaching has had a positive impact on their lives and careers:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Effective Professional Development here

Champions and contacts



Hub Contact Details

Norwich Opportunity Area Team
Norwich Opportunity Area Team

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