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Dixons Academies Trust

Bradford Research School: Dixons new approach to professional growth

Posted 11th May 2023

We have recently launched an approach to professional growth which aims to fuel future performance and strengthen our relationships by introducing coaching check-ins for all members of Team Dixons. Our approach relies on regular positive interaction through coaching conversations and provides continuous feedback rather than traditional periodic appraisal. This supports our principle of agility by enabling bespoke and responsive support to remove blockages and enable talent to flourish.

We believe that if you talk simply and honestly about performance on a regular basis, you can get great results; our staff are supported to keep getting better through a continuous cycle of positive conversations and over time, every employee learns to give as well as receive feedback.  These interactions are based on caring personally, interacting with humility and respect, but not avoiding challenge.

Everyone at Dixons is supported to keep getting better through regular and intensive coaching check-ins: 

  • Associate Staff (every 3-4 weeks)
  • Teachers (weekly or fortnightly)
  • Middle and Senior Leaders (weekly)

At its most simple, coaching helps colleagues to get better at their work – it usually involves colleagues focussing on embedding a weekly, actionable and specific step, or goal setting and problem solving, with the help of a coach.  Goals may support specific career progression or short term work tasks or problems but will always accelerate growth.  Our coaches will utilise different coaching approaches, often within the same conversation, to have greatest impact according to the expertise and needs of the coachee.

We know that we need to work hard to embed and sustain our new approach so our Centre for Growth is providing structure, processes, training, and guidance to give us space for, and to ensure the quality of, professional dialogue and recognition.

Every cycle, leaders harness feedback from colleagues to quality assure and further refine our approach, and to keep professional growth at the forefront.  Our feedback so far shows green shoots of growth - staff feel valued and connected to Dixons and supported by the bespoke support to get better in their roles, to experience a sense of mastery. Our most recent feedback includes these comments:

“Staff are really engaged with the process and feel very supported with their own professional development needs.”

“It feels more 'live' as a process and something which can be more effectively tailored to individuals as the year progresses.”

“Engagement and commitment to professional development has increased. Coaching conversations have enabled areas of development to be identified earlier on so that we can support and encourage team members on their career pathway.”

“There is a stronger culture of learning developing amongst all staff. Relationships between coaches and coachees are positive and based on a shared understanding that we all want to be great at what we do in the best interests of the students.”

Our coaching conversations give us space to reflect and grow.