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UK Coaching Team
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Children Young people Organising and Planning

How to Coach a Range of Abilities Within a Large Group

Do your team training sessions comprise a mix of experienced and inexperienced performers that span a spectrum of abilities? Do you coach adults and youngsters in the same group, or teenagers at different stages of maturation? This article contains advice on how to keep every participant engaged and challenged in sessions, maintaining individual learning pathways while being careful not to compromise support to the wider group

It is a common concern of parents whose children attend primary school to question the level of individual support they receive from their class teachers.

Parents of more able children worry they are not being sufficiently challenged because teachers are spending too much time trying to develop those with special educational needs, or those pupils who struggle to keep up in lessons.

Similarly, parents of those who are not as academically advanced as some of their classmates fear the cleverest pupils are receiving more one-to-one support, to the detriment of their own child’s learning and development.

Most parents air their views privately, but some complain all-too publicly that either their child’s ample potential is being stymied, or that they are being left trailing in their classmates’ slipstream because of an imbalanced system.

It is a classic case of, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and I am sure this will resonate with some coaches too.

In fact, teachers take great pains to make sure they provide equal access to learning.

Schools have a range of creative strategies at their disposal to ensure the needs of all pupils are being met.

And while the coaching industry has its own domain-specific learning strategies to draw on, it has been quick to adopt and adapt some of the transferable techniques which the teaching profession has been at the forefront of developing.

UK Coaching's Blake Richardson spoke to a head teacher trained in child-centred group learning strategies to demonstrate how the two sectors can learn from each other on overseeing large mixed ability sessions.

Peer mentoring model

A teacher/coach cannot be in several places at once and so is unable to watch every pupil/participant all of the time. In a large group, it is much easier to monitor and assess progress if participants are divided into small-sided groups, with a peer mentor allocated to each cluster to enforce learning objectives.

Challenging the more experienced or more technically adept players to help the newer children/less advanced will allow you to focus on a particular skill station or single group.

Kully Richardson is head teacher at Kirkstall Valley Primary School in Leeds. She explains in more detail the method behind the peer mentor model.

We use the children to assess each other and themselves. It is a fundamental approach in teaching.”

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UK Coaching Team