Skip to content

← Back
Frequently asked questions
Find answers about Steplab and professional development in schools. Got a question that isn't answered here? Get in touch.
How can Steplab help improve teaching in my school?

Steplab is suite of tools and content which have been designed and developed over a number of years, along with schools, to systematically improve teaching. At its heart, Steplab focussed on helping schools to implement instructional coaching (IC), because evidence suggests this is one of the best ways to improve teaching. Steplab provides everything schools need to do IC well, including thousands of small teaching targets, hundreds of videos of effective teaching, practice tasks and more. It also provides school leads with data dashboards to help track and improve IC over time.

What is instructional coaching (IC)?

At the most basic level, instructional coaching is where one teacher helps another teacher to improve, through regular cycles of observation and feedback, focussing on one small improvement (or 'step') at a time. Here's a video walkthrough from Peps on the basic approach in more detail:

At Steplab we are building out a slightly more sophisticated version of this approach called responsive instructional coaching (RIC). See this essay by Josh for an overview of RIC.

Is there any evidence behind the Steplab approach?

Yes, lots! The average improvement in Progress 8 for all schools using Steplab between 2019 and 2022 was +0.57. This reflects the wider research that instructional coaching is one of the few PD approaches that has been shown to have a positive impact on pupil outcomes. For a comprehensive analysis the evidence underpinning the Steplab approach, check out this white paper written by Arielle and Josh.

Can Steplab help experienced teachers get better, or is it just for new teachers?

Instructional coaching is a powerful approach for ALL teachers, not just those at the start of their career. Teaching is a complex professional activity, and just as top singers, athletes use coaches to help them stay on top of their game, coaching can help experienced teachers to keep getting better too. The approach we use at Steplab is called responsive instructional coaching, which adapts to the expertise of the teacher being coached. See this this essay on responsive coaching by Josh for more.

Can I customise the experience?

As well as powering high quality coaching, Steplab allows schools to build courses consisting of various modules and quizzes. This can be a great way to deliver remote professional development sessions, particularly when working across a group of schools where schools may be geographically distant. The system then helps learners to check their understanding and gives insights into their progress across the course.

Designers have flexibility around how courses and modules are released to users:

  1. Standalone study modules: a single module, unrelated to other learning
  2. Courses consisting of modules that release sequentially i.e. once you complete module 1, module 2 is released
  3. Courses consisting of modules that release all at once.
What is a module and what does it include?

Modules are single units of learning. We would expect that a user completes a module in a single sitting.

A module can consist of any amount, order and arrangement of four types of content:

Questions served and auto-marked with instructor feedback

Upload and host directly on Steplab or link to a YouTube/Vimeo video

Write documents in a rich text editor, and embed videos and images

Collect responses to questions, with optional instructor feedback

How much support will we get from Steplab to make it work in our school? Can Steplab help us develop our staff into great coaches?

We provide a range of support to help schools make Steplab work well. This includes 1-to-1 support for school leads to help them get Steplab set up, train their coaches, and continue to develop their approach to maximise impact. We also provide online training materials and resources, which can be used at any time, to help train up coaches in your school. Finally, we provide regular webinars for school leads and coaches to provide schools with advice from experts and other schools around how to make Steplab work to maximum effect.

Can Steplab help us to see what's going on in our school and so help continually improve teaching and school culture?

Yes, Steplab has a powerful database which help school leads and coaches to see exactly what kinds of professional development is happening in school, by who, and when. Alongside this are a number of tools which schools can use to create the culture needed to make professional development work, including 'drop-ins' and 'shoutouts'. Together, these tools enable continual tracking, improvement, and celebration, and over time, develop more effective teaching and culture across schools and trusts.

We use Steplab as part of an Ambition/Teach First programme. Can we use Steplab for our other staff?

Absolutely. Whilst Steplab supports national provides with their programmes, our core work is helping schools and trusts to implement instructional coaching for all (or at least large proportions) of their staff. We have been helping schools to implement whole-school instructional coaching for over 5 years, and so have lots of expertise in how to make it work, and overcome common barriers such as timetabling and how to do a pilot within your school. Over 700 schools use us for whole-school instructional coaching: get in touch to explore how Steplab might help your school or trust.

What if I want to see coaching in action? Can Steplab help?

Absolutely! We have schools all over the country that act as Steplab Coaching Hubs offering termly visits for those interested in seeing coaching in action. These schools are using Steplab in successful, novel and interesting ways to power great instructional coaching programmes. They’ve navigated the challenges of contextual adaptation, implementation and culture-building and are happy to share their experiences and offer school-to school support. Whether you are a current Steplab user, or are just interested, get in touch with us to book a visit by emailing [email protected]. You can also find out more about our hubs here.

What cyber security cerifications does Steplab have?

Steplab is certified by the National Cyber Security Centre Cyber Essentials programme.

Where does Steplab store data?

Data on Steplab is stored in the UK, with the exception of data from schools in Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific region, which is stored in Australia. Personal data remains within its respective storage country, either the UK or Australia.

Is it possible to do a trial of Steplab?

Yes, we offer a 1-month free trial. Just get in touch to find out more and set this up for your school.

Want to know more about Steplab?