Coaching is becoming increasingly popular in education and schools. You may already be using coaching with staff in your school or setting to support their development and performance. However coaching is a valuable way of supporting the academic achievement and personal development of young people. Coaching can also support the development of young people’s wellbeing and resilience. This article explores how coaching can support young people with academic achievement.

Why is academic achievement important for wellbeing?

What we know from working with young people and what the research tells us is that personally motivated academic achievement can act as a protective factor that can prevent the onset of mental health problems for young people. While a school environment that supports personal development creates the right environment for young people to build strategies for wellbeing.

How can coaching support academic achievement? 

We really want young people to be academically successful and helping them through a coaching approach is a really great way of supporting them to achieve academically.

When we talk about achieving academically, we don't mean get an A star or get five A stars or get 10 A stars. We mean achievement for them and how they feel and think about that personal achievement. This is about helping them identify subjective success in regard to how they perform academically and whatever success means for them. We also through the process of coaching help the young person to understand what achievement really means for them and what makes them feel proud, this builds their confidence and helps boost wellbeing

This highlights that coaching is a really great opportunity to work with a trusted adult who is non-judgmental, who's got hope and belief in the young person and their ability to be able to improve their grades or work towards the academic-related goals that they've set for themselves. 

How does coaching reduce barriers to learning and achievement?

When we coach young people, we support them holistically, as a whole person. Even if we are providing coaching for an academic purpose, we are ultimately coaching them to be more successful, it's really whatever that success or achievement means for the young person. Working with them to help them identify this and work towards it, helps the young person develop and in doing so will have a positive impact on other areas of their life.

So for example a coach supporting a young person academically may actually be working with a young person on things that are going on at home or with friendship problems, because they are stopping their ability to concentrate or focus, as maybe they are thinking about or are worrying about these things during lessons so they are creating a barrier to academic achievement. 

Academic coaching can be about reducing these barriers to achievement. Which can and does include worries, fears, thoughts, feelings behaviours, issues and stressors in their lives. When you address these areas you're also helping the young person to have more space, to be able to think clearly and learn, reflect and really reduce a lot of these barriers that could be having a negative and knock-on effect to their learning.

How does a coach support academic achievement? 

A coach will work with a young person to develop academic achievement through establishing an effective coaching relationship with that young person. It is this relationship that is the container or the foundation for the coaching intervention to be successful. The coaching relationship is the reason why any strategies or action planning will be more likely to help a young person to move forward. 

The first step is to establish an effective relationship. The coach will offer the young person an opportunity to engage in the coaching process, this is an important part of what makes coaching a success as coaching has to be a choice for it to be most successful.

Then the coach will talk to the person about what the young person's goals are. Depending on how the coaching has been set up or the general purpose of the academic coaching there might be a wider performance-related agenda, such as struggling school or a generally shared understanding that the coaching is taking place to improve academic achievement. The coach will also explain that they are helping the young person develop in other areas of their life and that we're working with them as a whole person. So the coaching sessions will often cover and bring in other aspects of their file and not just what they want to do or achieve academically

Once the goals are established the young person starts action planning and establishing ways to work towards achieving those goals. That can also include discussing obstacles to these goals, identifying and overcoming barriers and how to get back on track when plans fail and things go wrong. Because of this the coaching will naturally cover barriers to achieving academically, such as managing stress stressors or getting worries out of their mind or talking about things that are going on at home or school that are preventing effective learning. It is this process of working towards goals and overcoming barriers that also helps build wellbeing and resilience.

Find out more and Next Steps 

To find out more about the benefits of coaching young people, register on our FREE coaching young people webinar series. Find out more about our coach training course and learn to become a coach yourself. Or find out about the coaching and support we can provide directly to your students or young people in your school or setting.

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