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A Coaching First in Wilton

by Michael Ford last modified 01 Jun, 2016 02:52 PM

On Monday 23 May, Wilton and Barford Primary School became the first school in the South West of England to receive the prestigious Coach Mark Award.

A Coaching First in Wilton

Jan Nock receives the award from Clare Smale

The school was presented with the award by Clare Smale of Inspired2Learn. Guest of Honour was David Hemery CBE, a former Olympian athlete, gold medal winner and Chair of 21st Century Legacy.

The Coach Mark Award recognises the commitment and hard work of all members of staff and children to ‘Be the Best They Can Be.’ The award process helps schools achieve the highest standards of coaching practice, providing clear ‘next steps’ to sustain good practice and develop coaching further.

Headteacher Jan Nock explains in detail how they became involved in coaching as a tool for whole-school improvement.

“It was introduced to the school after I attended an improving performance course which focused on the use of coaching to raise standards and improve teacher performance. In an education culture of striving for continuous improvement, there is a constant need to ensure that the appropriate skills, knowledge and actions of staff match the changing needs of the system. Coaching intrinsically motivates staff and empowers them to achieve their goals.

“As a school we also wanted to widen and raise the aspirations of pupils and research pointed us to the 21st Century Legacy ‘Be the Best You Can Be!’ programme. This also used coaching and in particular the GROW method of coaching with children to increase their ability to be agile thinkers, independent and creative learners. Coaching fits in perfectly with our belief in enabling everybody to follow their own unique learning journey and achieve their full intellectual, physical, social and spiritual potential as responsible individuals, citizens and members of the community.

“We have loved the way that the ‘Be the Best you Can Be’ programme encourages children to take responsibility for their actions and consider the consequences. It has been wonderful to hear children discuss options, Plan B and even Plan C. In a Year 2 class, a conversation with a group of children developed from ‘wanting to marry a prince when they grew up’, to ‘well there aren’t many princes here that we can marry’ to ‘we could be princess dress designers’ to ‘I could be a dress designer.’ Fabulous thinking by 6 and 7 year olds!

"We have also overheard children telling parents “You need a plan B, mum” and “You have to preserve and work hard at it mum”! These sorts of conversations would never have happened before coaching was used in school.

“’Be the Best You Can Be’ has also been instrumental in helping us achieve our Coach Mark for Schools Award. We are very proud to be the first school in the South West to receive this prestigious award which has recognised the impact coaching has had in our school. We now use coaching for staff development, working with children and working with parents.

“Over the last 12 months the school has built up a portfolio to show how it has met the aspirational and rigorous standards required. Collecting the evidence and working through the criteria helped the school to identify the steps it needed to take to GROW and Be the Best it Could Be. Assessor Clare Smale supported us on our journey and led an introduction to coaching for all teaching staff, as well as more in-depth training for key members of the Senior Leadership Team.”

Mrs Nock has also attended further training with Jennifer Hampson of Baxter Associates, and now coaches and mentors new Headteachers in Wiltshire. You can contact her via the school website,

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