Richard’s ILM journey

I’m Richard and have been working in schools both in Britain and Internationally for the last twenty-five years. I began my ILM L5 Coaching and Mentoring qualification in November 2021 and finished in April 2023. 

What does your role involve? 

When I began my qualification, I was an experienced school leader. Throughout my teaching and leadership career I my default leadership style has been that of a coach, however much of this was instinctive and the rest was learnt through reading and studying for my MBA. I felt it was time to discover what I didn’t know and to try to fill the holes in my knowledge and practice.  

What was the apprenticeship process like? 

The ILM Coaching and Mentoring Level 5 course was a good balance of theory and practice. I had regular ‘teach and learn’ sessions with my wonderful mentor, Karen Webb, and spent time on my own working through the various workbooks created by ILM. I received regular feedback from Karen when I began to wander ‘off-piste’, but what I really valued was the opportunity to think out loud and make efforts to connect dots in my experience and learning during my sessions with her. My world of ad-hoc coaching began to make much more sense and I was able to recognise mistakes and assumptions I had made. 

What is the best thing you’ve learnt? 

The ILM Level 5 modules are numerous but were very useful in improving my coaching and mentoring knowledge and understanding. The qualification opened me up to further reading and two books in particular had a profound impact on my understanding and practice. I still regularly return to ‘Radical Candor’ by Kim Scott and ‘Time to Think’ by Nancy Kline and often hear myself recommending them to others who display the slightest interest in coaching and leadership. You have been warned! 

What are you most proud about? 

I’m most proud about the fact that I am still learning! It does get harder as I get older, but I know I miss it enormously when I am not finding out about new stuff and trying to be the best I can be.  

What would your advice be for those considering an apprenticeship? 

Go for it! I needed to become a better time manager to meet the multiple demands of being a father, husband, employee, and student. If you remain disciplined in this area and keep your eyes on the task in hand – not worrying about where the finish line is – it will be a far more enjoyable experience. In these situations, I always remind myself of the Edmund Hillary quote: ‘It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves’. 

What are your next learning steps? 

My next steps will be to put into practice much of what I have learned and be the best coach I can be. I will do this by regularly asking for feedback from people I work with and by seeking opportunities to learn more from others more experienced by asking questions. 

Thank you to everyone at Blue Sky for making this the most enjoyable and rewarding of experiences. Your care was always genuine and your support fulsome. 

Published 10/08/2023 & Filed in Blue Sky Blog


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