Student Coaching

Coaching: helping students to develop lifelong habits

Crowther Centre March 9th, 2021 · 5 minute read

Why coaching?

Coaching done well, may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.”  (Atul Gawande)

Education is becoming increasingly demanding and complex for young people. Students need to balance academics, relationships, co-curricular activities and their own wellbeing.

Coaching is an opportunity for your child to build their independence and direct their own life. The process of coaching is designed to build self-directedness in students, as well as improve academic performance and develop resilience. It is a structured conversation to help your child reflect, set goals, solve problems and plan next steps.

What do the experts say?

Good coaching has many positive outcomes for students. The primary outcome is that it helps build social and emotional skills in students. Research into student coaching has found significant increases in wellbeing, hope, resilience and a significant decrease in depression, anxiety and stress (Green, Grant & Rynsaardt, 2007).

Coaching also helps students develop ‘soft’ skills. For example, students who have engaged in coaching demonstrate higher scores on emotional intelligence tests and have improved attitudes to learning. They also show enhanced communication skills, such as: asking better questions, actively listening, giving and receiving feedback more effectively. As a result of this, students have then been seen to have increased self-confidence and improved relationships with peers, teachers and siblings (van Nieuwerburgh & Tong, 2013).

In regard to academic pursuits, coaching has been explicitly linked to enhanced academic performance (Passmore & Brown, 2009). Specifically, coaching benefits students by enhancing their study skills, as well as aiding their ability to set personally relevant learning goals, and developing their goal striving resilience (Grant, Green & Rynsaardt, 2010, Green et al., 2007).

Coaching allows students the time to pause, think, problem solve and plan. The structured conversation helps students understand their current reality and the contributing factors that have led them to this point. From here, each student can set specific goals and talk through the tactics and habits they need to develop to help meet their goals.


Schools that have adopted coaching see it as the primary method for improving performance. These schools have developed programs that include leadership coaching, instructional coaching, tutor/student and student/student coaching.

The positive impact on a student’s relationship with their tutor can be seen in the reflections below, gathered from a Melbourne school.

 (n=396) Item Pre coaching Post coaching
My tutor knows me as a person 69% 84%
My tutor has a clear understanding of the challenges I face 57% 75%
My tutor really knows what I want to achieve 53% 80%


So, what are these coaching methods? Leadership coaching is used to build capacity in staff, whereas instructional coaching focuses on improving classroom practice through the use of video.  Tutor/student coaching is used for reflection, goal setting and progress monitoring as students graduate through the years of school. Finally, student/student coaching is where older students help younger students. For example, Year 11 students help Year 6 students with their transitions between Years 6 and 7.

An example of coaching in schools

During an allocated coaching time, the student will have 20 minutes to sit down with their tutor to share their story and goals. The student will be asked to reflect on their year so far, including their academic performance, co-curricular involvement and their service to others. The conversation will unpack the contributing factors of their current reality in preparation for planning and goal setting in the next term.

On a dedicated coaching day, students will be given the opportunity to share their story with an adult. They will be the focus of the conversation and have a chance to genuinely be heard. Staff at one school reported the coaching day was a ‘game changer’ for the students, in addition to improving relationships had by all across the school.

What types of questions do tutors ask?

The following are some examples of the types of questions a typical coaching conversation might entail:

Building relationships

  • Tell me a bit about yourself. What interests you?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of school? What has changed the most in your life this year?


  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a perfect year and 1 being the opposite, how would you rate your school year so far?

Analyse Contributing Factors

  • What actions or steps did you take to help make these things go well?
  • Who are the people who have helped you the most this year? How have they helped?
  • Is there anything getting in the way, maybe something you need to stop doing, that would help you?


  • What are four or five things that would be different if the year was a 10/10? Specifically, what would be different?  How would you feel?  What would be different for you, if it had been a 10/10?


  • What are two or three goals you’d like to work on this semester?

How can you help?

  • Ask your child about their goals for this year. Contact your child’s tutor to discuss their progress.
  • Have conversations to help your child reflect on their progress towards their goals. For example, ask: ‘What went well at school today?’ or ‘What did you find challenging this week?’
  • Model goal setting with your child. Talk about current challenges you are facing and the strategies you are using to overcome them.
  • Encourage your child to seek support towards their goals. Having a strong network of people helps students succeed.


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