When ICF coach Ron de Vries’ child started school in Auckland, New Zealand, Ron visited the Principal to ask if they might find value in having coaching support. The Principal was intrigued by Ron’s offer to support their development and commented that it sounded like the support they receive from Springboard Trust.

That generous offer and subsequent connection has led to a strategic partnership between ICF NZ and Springboard Trust that has benefited nearly 50 school leaders in the last two years.

As Ron was making his offer, Springboard Trust were developing a leadership framework for educators that reflects the Aotearoa NZ context. Little did he know that we were about to pilot that framework, as the basis for 360-degree feedback, paired with coaching support for the school leader to unpack their feedback, acknowledge their strengths and identify areas for development.  An initial meeting led to nine coaches being part of our pilot of the service and the continued support of five to ten coaches per school term since then.

The connection with Ron and ICF and the opportunity to access accredited coaches, has been invaluable for Springboard and our school leaders. Each coach brings a high degree of care, support and professionalism, a level of questioning and stretch that school leaders receive when matched with an ICF volunteer. As an organisation we are lucky to have this strong commitment to supporting each individual to find the answers within themselves.

While the majority of ICF coaches that we have accessed are based in New Zealand, some have supported from as far away as Oman and London, working flexibly to ensure that their availability aligns with the school leader.

Many ICF coaches work remotely as part of their own practice and build rapport easily in this environment. Prior to this year, many school leaders only had face to face interactions with students and parents, and the experience of building rapport online put them in good stead when pivoting to online teaching during lockdown.

Having met, inducted and matched most of the ICF coaches, I am struck not just by how skilful each is, but also how personable, positive and genuine each and every person is. When debriefing with school leaders at the end of each engagement, many comment that their coach helped them to see themselves as a leader and they can’t believe we found the perfect person for them. It’s the first time many of our school leaders have received individualised support and having a strong coach in their corner has given many the confidence to make dramatic changes within their work.

The voluntary nature of ICF’s support for Springboard Trust and school leaders has enabled many to access coaching that would not otherwise be accessible for them. This is a huge benefit for leaders who themselves are focused on ensuring excellent and equitable outcomes for their students.

Amavi Mey is Head of Strategy and Innovation at Springboard Trust, based in Auckland, New Zealand. She has also held Programme Manager and Delivery Lead roles at the Trust.

Originally from Cambodia, Amavi previously worked in Human Resources in the UK and NZ before retraining as a primary school teacher. These roles and a passion for people provided the perfect foundations for her to join Springboard Trust – an education change organisation that supports school Principals to enhance their strategic leadership capability and transform schools for students, staff and their communities.