In 2009, East Ayrshire Local Authority (LA) Education Service determined that the development of a coaching culture would be a powerful intervention to improve both the morale and the leadership practice of teachers aspiring to leadership positions. Following initial inquiry with the Education Service, the aims identified for the coaching intervention were to: develop sustainable coaching capacity; tap into existing knowledge and experience in the teaching community and; enhance the existing coaching practice and skills of teachers in the LA.

A group of practicing Heads and Deputes (HT/DHT) acknowledged as best practice school leaders from primary and secondary schools were approached and asked if they would be prepared to commit time to support a coaching based leadership development programme for aspiring school leaders.

Aspiring school leaders across the LA were invited to apply for a coaching programme that would enhance their leadership. Each aspiring leader was assigned a coach from the DHT/HT group to support them in the delivery of a school project sponsored by their own HT over an academic year. Aspiring leaders undertook a 360 degree feedback process to support their leadership development .

A coaching workshop was held for the participating HT/DHT coaches to develop skills, share best practice and experiences ahead of the kick off session.

A kick off session with coaches and aspiring leaders was held at a host school at the beginning of the academic year. The coach's were allocated their coaching partner(s) and guidelines were shared on the programme.

Over the Academic year the aspiring leaders then met regularly with their coach to reflect on experiences, identify key learning and address development needs.

Key Learnings and reflections
The initial programme was delivered over a full academic year through regular coaching conversations drawing on the practice of existing Heads and Deputes. As a result of this development focus a number of aspiring leaders on the programme applied for and secured senior leadership posts in the LA and elsewhere

The key successes of the programme for both coaches and aspiring leaders:
• Encouraging personal development and providing a boost to the morale of both coaches and those being coached.
• Sharing best practice, developing shared learning, sharing knowledge and experience.
• Providing cross school, cross sector learning – early learning, special needs, primary and secondary schools participating in a coaching programme together.
• Drawing on the leadership and coaching experience already existing among Heads and Deputes in the LA.
• Delivering school improvement projects.
• Providing aspiring leaders with development feedback (360 feedback data) as the basis for developing leadership skills.

The LA has been able to take forward the programme on a self sustaining basis thus minimising cost and reducing reliance on external expertise.

Verbatim Feedback from Participants
"I would thoroughly recommend participation in this coaching programme to any colleague who is considering working towards promotion to the next level."

"I have found participating in the coaching programme rewarding and a very important part of my professional development".

"I chose to apply for FRH because of the coaching element involved in this programme. I see a huge difference in my attitude to my role as DHT and have more confidence in my ability as a result of the programme."

"I have started to apply for DHT positions and am encouraged by my experiences this year. They have certainly helped to prepare me for the demands of a senior management role."

"I have started to apply for DHT positions and am encouraged by my experiences this year. They have certainly helped to prepare me for the demands of a senior management role."

"This was very useful as it provided me with someone who could comment impartially on issues that arose as I tried to carry through my project. My coach also helped to make me think for myself on how to motivate the people I was working with and plan what I was going to do, while keeping me focused and motivated."

"I can now see myself going for DHTor HT in future, where l didn't really before. L do however feel that I can further develop my leadership skills in my current post and with the results of the ECI I can be more focused. I intend to continue to develop GLOW in my school and encourage the staff to use it more with the children - this will mean more cooperative teaching and workshops."

"I would recommend this programme to anyone interested in developing leadership skills. lt is a good first step to take on the journey to leadership."

"I found coaching to be a very worthwhile experience. The sessions are the most thought- provoking CPD I have ever undertaken. I met with my coach on a regular basis, he gave the programme an enormous amount of time to which I am extremely grateful. He supported me throughout my project with a level of expertise beyond anything I have ever experienced. Both professionally and personally my confidence as a leader has increased."

Verbatim Comments from the Head Teachers on their staff's involvement"I have seen a difference in XXX since her involvement with the programme. She has grown in her post and gained confidence in dealing with difficult situations. She is more self-reflecting (and is not quite so hard on herself!) The experience of completing the LCP has given her the confidence and motivation to take on the FRH. XXX has benefited personally and professionally - and the school has also benefited in terms of XXX's impact on the SMT, staff and pupils."

"I feel that involvement in this course has greatly enhanced the self esteem and professional confidence of this individual. Over and above this the one-to-one quality input has helped her to adopt a more reflective approach to her work and own professional capabilities. During the current session XXXX has had to take an Acting DHT role within the school and I have no doubt that being part of the coaching programme not only made her weII-placed for this professional challenge but helped give her the insight required to manage the various aspect of the job."