Coaching for Progress – Working with Infants

We wanted to know if coaching with infants works. After a four month project at an outstanding school in North Somerset, we can say hand on heart, it does! Please read Judith’s report on our work with Yatton Infant School, North Somerset, which includes the stories of two teachers, Polly and Sarah, who trained with us and then went back to school and made a big difference!


Coaching for progress with Infants

We have often thought that the C4P model would work with infants and luckily we have had the chance to try it out. Two teachers Polly Beynon and Sarah Croft from Yatton Infant School in North Somerset came on our training course and then we had the opportunity to into their school for 8 fortnightly sessions to work with two groups and six individual Year One pupils.


The good news is that it worked like a dream and provided us with many opportunities to extend our skills and activities and adapt them for the infant age range.


Here’s a quote from one of the teachers, Sarah:


I really feel that the children are walking away from these sessions more empowered to create their own successes in their work. They clearly know how to move themselves forward and have started to put this into action in their work. The children have understood the need to set targets and move forward and were/are always keen to head for the green spot. The children have learnt to be active learners that are focussed on working hard to meet their target. Some of the children that have attended these sessions were once passive learners and have now moved on to become more independent and willing to have a go.

Each session was planned to follow the C4P model with a rapport building starter to relax the children and get them talking. That was followed by some time spent recapping on their targets from the week before. The final part of the session was devoted to working on new targets.


What we learned was that the younger the children the more props you need and with this in mind we used teddies, stickers and Mr Men playing cards to make the sessions as fun as possible.


One of the most successful tools we used was the red amber green circles (the traffic lights). The children would say their targets and then step onto the red amber and green circles and visualise what the target would look like if it was red, amber or green.


This is what Sarah said about the traffic lights:


The red, amber and green spots were such a great tool for the children to clearly visualise where they are now and what they need to do to get to the next stage. They could talk about what the green, amber and red spots looks like to do with their target and realistically place themselves where they believe they are.

Both teachers felt that the questioning skills they had learned on the course had positively affected their classroom practice:


The use of the effective questioning has allowed the children to be extremely reflective and it has been lovely to hear such detailed responses from children so young! – Polly Beynon.

One of the visual props we used was C4P’s own cartoon character Mr Mighty Brain. We used this to try and instil into the children a growth mindset so that they would value learning and time spent practicing towards their targets.


Polly said:


Mr Mighty Brain is a winner!  Having something visual has helped them. Getting the children to link him to how they use their mighty brain has again helped them know what they need to do to learn and achieve their targets.

Another valuable activity in one of the group sessions was the composition of the “Good work recipe”. The children were asked to think about what the magic ingredients were for a piece of good work. The children then self-assessed their work against the recipe. Sarah then made this as a visual reminder for the classroom and see below for the results.


We use the good work recipe in the classroom with all the children and created our own pot for display. The children then look at this for each session and I ask them what they will use from the recipe to help them create a good piece of work, they are very enthusiastic to say ‘I am using head down.’ ‘ I am going to concentrate.’ We are really enjoying using this for each session and the language is embedded in. – Sarah.

Finally in the last session we asked the children for their own evaluation of the sessions. The level of sophistication in their language was stunning and they were truly able to reflect on their learning.


T said:


I liked the traffic lights best because it helped me think about my next steps.

So what was the added value of holding the 8 sessions? That is best answered by Sarah and Polly:


I have changed the style of my questioning, both during class inputs and working one to one with the children – I ask questions that promote independent learning. The children are becoming capable at thinking for themselves and solving their own problems; therefore getting out of the habit of forming a queue

Setting and revisiting targets during the sessions has helped the children focus on what they need to do, (they are so involved in their own learning journey, again is great to see in such young children.

For more details of how C4P with infants could work in your school please contact Judith or Neil:

Telephone: 07733 140232

You can download this report here