Wanted: coach to observe the staff

21st January 2005 at 00:00
William Stewart reports on the schools prepared to pay pound;40,000 for someone to teach the teachers

A group of Sheffield schools is advertising for a pound;40,000 classroom coach to give on-the-job support to teachers.

The successful candidate will not be timetabled to teach lessons, in the first year at least. Instead, he or she will work alongside colleagues in their classes.

John Leam, head of Parkwood high, Sheffield, has already used staff to coach others. The scheme was successful but proved time-consuming. He then came up with the idea of using leadership incentive grant money to employ a permanent coach.

"At Parkwood high we have a number of teachers graded as very good and excellent, but there are less-experienced staff who would welcome extra support," he said. "I think coaching in the classroom is much more effective than outside courses."

The coach will spend two days a week at Parkwood and two days a week at Firth Park community arts college, a nearby secondary serving a deprived area.

The fifth day will be spent at the five other secondaries in the LIG group which have contributed pound;8,000 to the pound;56,000 overall cost, which include national insurance and pension contributions.

Mo Laycock, head of Firth Park, said she thought teachers in some schools would find such a move threatening, but her staff had already had their work reviewed and would welcome it.

"We have got a very young staff which is great because they have got the energy and enthusiasm, and they are also prepared to engage in continuing professional development," she said.

"They are used to analysing what is good about teaching and how it could be better."

The scheme, she said, was about offering teachers support rather than spying on them.

The coach will be expected to have excellent teaching and technology skills and will also focus on how to improve GCSE grades at Firth Park and Parkwood.

Paul Desgranges, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers' executive member for South Yorkshire, said: "If this is an additional resource which will not undermine the pay and conditions of existing teachers and they have actually been consulted on it and view it as positive, then that is fine."

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said it was the first time he had heard of schools employing their own teaching coach.

He said: "I think this is a logical development of a school doing its own teacher training and taking a serious view of the professional development of its own staff.

"It is another step in the direction of schools becoming real learning communities."

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