Mentoring and coaching - a central role in CPD
Over many years CUREE has reviewed and analysed the evidence of what works in professional development for teachers. The conclusion that stands out is that professional development is much more likely to be successful when it involves collaboration between staff and that effective mentoring and coaching is key to this professional development.
The evidence shows that when teachers worked together on a sustained basis (over at least one term but more usually two or three terms), this collaborative and sustained CPD was linked to positive effects on:
- students' learning, motivation and outcomes
- teachers' commitment, beliefs, attitudes, self-esteem and confidence in making a difference to their pupils' learning
- teachers' repertoires of strategies and their ability to match their teaching approaches to pupils' different needs
- teachers' attitudes to their pupils, the curriculum and to learning, and
- teachers' commitment to CPD.
What factors in CPD are linked to positive benefits?
CPD that was linked to these positive benefits usually involved:
- peer support (in pairs or small groups) to encourage, extend and structure professional learning, dialogue and experimentation - in combination with
- specialist support, including modelling, workshops, observation, feedback, coaching, introducing a menu of research-based strategies for enhancing learning
- planned meetings for structured discussion -including exploring evidence from the teachers’ classrooms about their experiments with new approaches and of their beliefs about teaching, the subjects being explored and their learners
- processes for sustaining the CPD over time to enable teachers to embed the practices in their own classroom settings - including informal day-to-day discussions and observations between teachers, and using work they would have to do anyway (such as lesson planning and designing schemes of work or curriculum development) in workshops
- recognition and analysis of teachers' individual starting points and building on what they know and can do already
- developing teachers' ownership of their learning, by offering them scope to identify or refine their own learning focus (within a menu set by the programme or the school), and to take on a degree of leadership in their CPD, and
- a focus on pupil learning and pupil outcomes, often explicitly as a way to analyse starting points, structure development discussions and evaluate progress, both formatively and summatively.
The central role of peer support and specialist support was explored further in the creation of the National Framework for mentoring and coaching. A document regularly referred to across the system and underpinning the approaches of many professional development programmes, the Framework offers us a distillation of the principles, concepts and skills of coaching and mentoring.
To help schools to benefit from the evidence base in practical and engaging ways whilst developing their own approach to mentoring and coaching, CUREE produced a suite of materials that can be used as part of development programmes within individual schools, colleges or clusters called Effective Mentoring and Coaching. Consisting of six different packs which cover the areas of Specialist coaching, Co-coaching, Mentoring and Whole school development, the packs support CPD leaders to run development for mentors, coaches and professional learners and build on the evidence about what has a positive impact for students.
We have also brought together a range of resources relating to mentoring and coaching to help you understand the evidence underpinning these developments.