Liverpool Girls High School

The School Context

Liverpool Girls High School is a large high school of about 1000 students in a low socio-economic area of south western Sydney. It has a leadership team that consists of a Principal, two Deputy Principal’s and 14 faculty and special program Head Teachers. The School Administration Manager is also a part of the leadership team. Many of the leadership team are new to their leadership role, some are relieving and for a number this is their first leadership position. As a result, the team is still developing its full leadership capacity. This was evidenced by a number of leaders struggling to effectively manage the unique and different members of their diverse teams and was becoming overwhelmed with trying to balance school, team and personal workloads and timelines and manage the current speed of change in NSW education. This was impacting on the teams morale, resilience and effectiveness, and was impacting on student learning outcomes.

Why We Wanted a Leadership Coach

The senior leadership team recognised the need to expand current support practices and researched best practices in other schools. It was decided to investigate a successful executive coaching program from a similar school with similar needs that was being facilitated by Melinda Zanetich from Lead Grow Lead Consulting. What we liked about this program was that Melinda was an experienced teacher and educational leader – she had credibility and understood the practicalities, processes and procedures that impacted on successfully managing teaching and learning challenges. Melinda listened carefully to the senior leadership team and then was able to design a multifaceted coaching program to meet the unique needs of our leadership team. She engaged with feedback and evaluation strategies to ensure that each session built the capacity of leaders and meet the individual learning needs of the leadership team. Melinda is skilled at incorporating research and evidenced based professional readings with practical action planning.

What We Did

We designed a coaching program that included one to one coaching, twice a term, afterschool ‘twilight’ professional learning and two 1 ½ day leadership conferences. A needs analysis was conducted at the beginning of each year and formal evaluation occurred at key points in the program. All members, including the Principal, were engaged in the coaching program. We have been engaging in leadership coaching since 2013. In 2017 we plan to expand the program to include inspiring executive teachers.

Outcomes

• relationships within the leadership team were strengthened with behaviours demonstrating greater support, collaboration and consideration.

• faculty and special programs were better managed. There was an increase in teacher morale, teacher effectiveness, student engagement, achievement and wellbeing.

• leadership capacity was built to the point that leaders were able to share their learning to build the capacity of aspiring executive and 2IC’s. This was evidenced by an increase in the number of teachers sharing leadership roles across the school.

• the leadership team felt more confident to successfully respond to whole school, team and personal challenges, and were better able to manage times of high stress and change.

• educational conversations are now the norm

A key part of this was Melinda’s credibility. This contributed to the high level of trust she established with each member of the leadership team which was facilitated open, honest and critical reflection of practice, and was evidenced by leaders successfully taking action to resolve problems.

A key aspect of the success of this program was Melinda’s capacity to design an evolving program to meet the teams needs along the coaching journey. Team members demonstrated high degrees of ownership about the content of the program. Melinda demonstrated high efficacy in using the targeted techniques to provide support, so as to provide whole experience for our leaders. The program’s success was also acknowledged by the high involvement of team members in activities beyond the school day and by the number of teachers who requested continuing involvement after returning to a classroom teacher role.