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Growing coaching through partnership

In October 2019 Leeds Beckett University launched a partnership with Growth Coaching International (GCI) which will see CollectivED, a research and practice centre in Carnegie School of Education build further on the collaboration that has developed between Professor Rachel Lofthouse and GCI. In this blog post Rachel Lofthouse talks to both Rose Blackman-Heganci (GCI) and Leeds Beckett colleague Rachel Bostwick about the new partnership.

Growing coaching through partnership

Welcome to Leeds Beckett University Carnegie School of Education and CollectivED Rose. We are excited about our new partnership with GCI and thrilled that you are part of that team. Can you tell us something about your new role?

It is a very exciting time and I am really delighted to be joining the GCI team and of this new partnership with you and your team. I studied at Leeds Beckett some years ago and actually lived at the Headingley campus as a first year degree student so it is very strange to be back now. I have many happy memories and loved being there, I am looking forward to getting to know it again.

My role is a new one for GCI in England and is part of a focused move to offer more opportunities for schools and those involved in the wider education sector to access high quality coaching provision. This builds on the great work a GCI colleague, Margaret Barr, has been doing in Scotland. There are three key elements to my work. The first is to have a strategic and leadership overview of GCI in the UK but also with a future eye to Europe. Secondly, drawing on my former teaching and school leadership experience, I will work closely with clients to build and develop courses and programmes. For example, a school may wish to develop a coaching culture and are looking for some guidance on how best to implement this. Or they may already have determined how coaching will support their school development and want a high quality coaching training programme. The third element is face to face delivery and of course coaching, both of which I love.

Rachel Bostwick you were instrumental in enabling this partnership. What is it about the values of Leeds Beckett and our school of Education that made this possible?

The key to a successful and effective collaboration is ensuring that both organisations’ values are aligned. Developing partnerships can be a lengthy process due to a range of processes that both organisations will undertake such as due diligence. Our partnership with GCI International was one of our easier partnerships to develop as we had worked with individuals from the organisation prior to the partnership being established. Both organisations have a belief that professional dialogue and quality conversations are key to supporting the wellbeing of both students and staff and are committed to supporting individuals and organisations in developing a culture of coaching and mentoring within their own and others’ educational settings.

Rose, you have lots of experience working in education, can you tell us some of the highlights of your career so far, and how they have influenced your current work?

I have been very fortunate to have worked in some great schools. I came to teaching late following some years working in commercial settings. My first job was in a fantastic school in South Wales. One highlight from this time was when I was Head of Textiles and managed to secure sponsorship for a very flashy and professional fashion show. This captured the imagination of some of our, let's ay, less engaged pupils and my lasting memory is of one boy proudly dominating the cat walk in a Welsh Rugby outfit holding the Welsh flag aloft. This experience taught me that everyone has a spark inside and if you can help them find a way to capture it and bring it to light you will see the very best of them. I see this similarly in coaching. It is simply being able to let people recognise their own spark and as a coach you help guide them in lighting it.

Another highlight is from my most recent role with an educational charity. In this role I worked on several training programmes for school leaders that incorporated coaching as a key element. Both through offering one to one coaching for participants as well as coaching training programmes. The latter was my first introduction to GCI. I was immediately engaged as GCI had a deep understanding of the specific needs of educators which is so evident in every element of their work. In particular the language of a Coaching Approach that focuses on enhancing the quality of conversations, informally as well as formally, in educational settings. And importantly for me, the message that by enhancing the quality of conversations so that it there is then a direct impact on teaching and learning which will of course impact on pupil outcomes. It is explicitly this that excites me about the work we will be able to do.

Rachel, how do you see this new partnership evolving over the next few years?

With all new partnerships it is important to invest in getting to know how your partners work and gain an understanding of their provision and offer whilst establishing processes and procedures to ensure an effective working relationship is developed. Longer term, I hope that the partnership will grow and collectively be recognised as a partnership that individuals and education settings wish to partner and engage with. CollectivED and GCI will continue to have and build on their own provision but in the current Educational climate, both organisations believe that we are ‘stronger together’ and I hope to be able to support joint research, initiatives and projects being delivered. Our Knowledge Exchange that was held in July last year was testament to the relationship we have already but I am looking forward to taking this further with our 2020 conference and future developments.

Co-authored by Rose Blackman-Heganci

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About the Authors

Leeds Beckett University

Rose Blackman-Heganci

Rose is a member of Growth Coaching International (GCI).

Professor Rachel Lofthouse

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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