Carnegie Education

CollectivED: Making sense of coaching for professional development in education

Our Leeds Beckett University research and practice centre ‘CollectivED: the Mentoring and Coaching Hub’ officially launched on the 14th March with over 50 Teachers, Teacher Educators, Academics and Education / Coaching Professionals attending our inaugural event - Coaching in Education: Why bother?
Smiling student mentor

The event featured a diverse panel of coaches all whom have different styles and models but who use coaching as a tool to support, develop and have an impact on the individuals, projects and organisations they work with in educational fields. Professor Rachel Lofthouse who founded CollectivED in the Carnegie School of Education was pleased to welcome her fellow contributors, Lou Mycroft, Jo Flanagan, Rebecca Tickell, Simon Feasey and Ruth Whiteside. During a series of conversations, which created a chain of discussions between speakers, the event participants gained and discussed insights into the ways that they understand and develop coaching for positive impacts.

Now, seven months later, these conversations have been used as a research evidence base which has led to a new journal paper by Rachel Lofthouse, published in Professional Development in Education and called ‘Coaching in education: a professional development process in formation’. The paper discusses how coaching has been evolving as a form of professional development for teachers and school leaders for several decades, and now exists in many forms. Through focusing on the work of the six coaches Rachel Lofthouse used an adapted focus group approach to discover how they explained and conceptualised the value of their practices. As the coaches’ conversations with each other emerged details of the nature of their work, and their reflections on it, were elicited which were analysed thematically while also paying due attention to individual narratives. Although coaching is not easily defined this study demonstrates the significance of relationships and dialogue in coaching and the structures and protocols that support that. The research suggests that coaching is suited to helping individuals dealing with authentic challenges, professional interests and dilemmas experienced in complex educational settings, while also acting as a counterweight to some of the consequences of performativity. The study also suggests that coaching may be a valuable means to deploy the expertise of experienced professionals to support an education system exposed to problems of retention of both teachers and school leaders.

Discussion: Key Themes

CollectivED is now a thriving hub, with new regional and national events planned for 2019, and a substantial national and international publication record through our working papers.  You can read much more about coaching in this collection, as well as research and practice insights into mentoring, lesson study, improving lesson observations, and a wide range of other professional development approaches. In October 2018 we also welcomed our first part-time doctoral students, Claire Dutton, Carol Bains and Steven Riley.

Find out more about CollectivED and download our working papers.

Follow us on Twitter

The participants of the launch event conversations at @claritytec, @rebecca_tickell, @LouMycroft, @ruthcoaching and @smfeasey.


  • Rachel Lofthouse (2018): Coaching in education: a professional development process in formation, Professional Development in Education, DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2018.1529611

Professor Rachel Lofthouse

Professor / Carnegie School Of Education

Rachel Lofthouse is Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education. She has a specific research interest in professional learning, exploring how teachers learn and how they can be supported to put that learning into practice.

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