You know we are always told to trust our instinct? Our ‘spidey senses? One of the most important applications for this I have come to trust implicitly is my gut instinct about what you can tell when you walk into a school. And St Ninian’s has a rating of A+++, an amazing school that strives so hard to help its young people achieve. St Ninian’s is a school with a lived belief in relationships at the core.

My core is also exercised in different ways – through belly laughter with pupils and staff alike – appropriate humour is an important part of relationship-building in the coaching process. This relational approach is modelled by the senior leadership team and across the school.

The team at St Ninian’s are driven to help young people aspire – reinforcing Mindset – and deeply embedding a culture of high aspirations in the wider community. I have been working on training pupil peer mentors to work with younger pupils, undertake coaching with them for their own aspirations, and do 1:1 coaching with young people.

The impact has been profound. By building a positive and trusting relationship, young people have explored issues of anxiety; body image; gender identity, bullying, study skills, dealing with friendship breakdowns; and a recurring theme of building resilience. Young people’s honesty has humbled me, as has their utter determination to succeed with support. We should never underestimate the potential for wisdom and insight to emerge when we hold the space with young people and give them the tools to reflect.

Coaching provides a great vehicle to help with educational recovery by allowing young people a space to reflect on their place in the world, make sense of previous experiences and be goal-orientated in tackling challenges and issues that they want to change in their lives.

Coaching young people requires you to hold the coaching model in your head, and I find I have to work harder to ensure the themes from weekly coaching are not lost. The biggest challenge that young people need help with is accountability. What has been fascinating at St Ninian’s has been young people’s willingness to reflect, take action and engage with curiosity in the process. This is partly due to the excellent relationships that young people have with staff in terms of relational trust.

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