coaching empowers pupils

by Sarah Smith

Coaching is a conversation with purpose.

It’s not mentoring: a coach won’t give you advice or give you their opinion.

And it’s not counselling. It’s not delving into the past.

Coaching is all about asking really powerful questions because we all have the answers within ourselves.

A coach will ask the questions to unlock what the individual is looking for.

It could be around setting goals, or around changing behaviours and what lies beneath that. A coach will explore and encourage that person to figure out how they might change those behaviours or reach those goals.


Coaching really empowers young people to be able to figure out the answers themselves.

When a young person – or any person, really - realises that they’ve figured out how to answer their own questions, it’s amazing to watch.

At lightbulb, we work with individuals so they can become the best version of themselves. We see value in developing our future now and we want coaching to be mainstream for young people.

For a young person – and I’ve worked with senior executives and the same topics still come up – it’s about how to increase their confidence, have a bigger impact and to overcome personal barriers.

It’s about how to be visible and how to find their voice.

Coaching really empowers young people to be able to figure out the answers themselves Sarah Smith ·


Often it can be around particular times in their lives – for example, during exams – when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Maybe they’re struggling with the workload, juggling part-time jobs or have caring responsibilities, and they can’t see how to manage everything. It can become too much.

Coaching can help them understand how they can get past that feeling of being overwhelmed and those feelings of anxiety.

We work with young people around choice and ask: what’s causing those feelings, what are the triggers and how can they change those feelings?

Coaching raises self-awareness so in the future, if they experience those feeling again, they recognise the “why”, and are able to act on it early so it doesn’t become a barrier or a limiting belief.

How do they reach their goals? How can they pass their exams, what strategies do they need to put into place - if that is what their goal is? A coaching session is driven by the client’s agenda, and the coach will partner them through that journey to where they want to be.

Pass it on

What’s more, coaching can be the gift that keeps on giving. It can create a virtuous circle.

Young people are ideally placed to coach each other around certain issues or barriers.

To be honest, they’re much more likely to listen to one another. Then they can use coaching skills to coach their teachers, to coach their parents, to coach each other and their younger siblings, it can be extremely positive.

And that’s why I’ve taken some time to develop a course for young people to become a professional coach.

They have a real opportunity to add a differentiator to their CV too. As they leave school, they have their Nat 5s or their Highers, but they can also gain a professional qualification in coaching. This can really set them apart.

The skills that they will learn; active listening, empathy, effective communication, growth mindset, powerful questioning (to name but a few) are all transferrable across all professions and sectors. These are skills that we will always need.

If you want to find out more about tapping into the self-sufficiency and resilience that coaching can uncover, get in touch at

Sarah Smith is the founder of, an Aberdeen-based coaching and talent consultancy. She is an accredited coach with the International Coaching Federation. The University of Aberdeen has recognised Sarah for her work as a change agent with an Honorary Research Fellowship and she has contributed to published work by the Business School.