Scotland’s teachers to be offered free coaching to improve wellbeing


TEACHING staff and education professionals across Scottish schools and early learning facilities are to be offered free wellbeing coaching as part of a new initiative funded by the Scottish Government aimed at helping individuals cope with pressures on mental health. 

The £200,000 programme will be delivered by Know You More – an Edinburgh-based social enterprise specialising in coaching and training – providing education professionals with a range of skills and techniques for improving wellness and mental health. The free-to-access coaching has been arranged in collaboration with Education Scotland and will be available to anyone from teaching assistants to head teachers, board members and trustees. The programme has been funded to provide a total of 1,250 hours of coaching which will benefit over 500 people.

A survey published by the EIS earlier this year highlighted the extent of the pressures Scotland’s teaching community is currently facing, with increased workloads and the cost-of-living crisis underpinning the need for further support. Last year’s Teacher Wellbeing Index, commissioned by Education Support, found that record numbers of teachers across the UK (59%) had considered leaving the sector due to pressures on their mental health and wellbeing[1].

The initiative follows a successful coaching scheme offered during the Covid-19 pandemic, which provided more than 800 teaching staff across Scotland with guidance and leadership coaching to navigate the difficult periods of lockdown. 

While the new wellbeing coaching scheme is primarily aimed at education professionals, Know You More anticipates that the benefits will also transcend into the classroom as well as having benefits for the wider workforce. The programme is closely aligned with the Scottish Government’s ambition for a wellbeing economy, prioritising equality, prosperity and the health of everyone in Scotland.

Gillian Jones, principal teacher at Banchory Primary School and a previous participant of Know You More’s coaching, said: “On the back of my own coaching experience, having the opportunity to support newly qualified teachers has been inspirational. Even when I’m in the classroom I’m using the techniques I learned throughout the course, so it really is having a profound effect on my practice.”

By awarding the contract to a social enterprise, the funding will also indirectly support Know You More’s wider mission to make coaching accessible to young people via its Level Up programme. Last year, the organisation supported 750 people aged between 18-25 to help realise their potential as they transition from education into employment. 

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth, said: “We value our teachers and education professionals and are committed to understanding their needs and providing them with the right support. This coaching will help provide a safe and confidential place for them to focus on their own wellbeing and we know from their feedback how helpful it can be.”

Tim Mart, founder of Know You More, said: “We’ve seen the benefits that coaching focussed on wellbeing brings to employees and employers, and we are looking forward to working with teaching staff over the coming months to support those working in the education system. Employers are beginning to recognise that personalised support is most effective when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace. Offering things like meditation apps and free fruit is nice, but unfortunately doesn’t scratch the surface, so it is important to support our key workers with the tools they need to feel empowered to manage their own wellbeing. Everyone responds differently to different techniques, so rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we have created a bespoke programme tailored to individuals. 

“There is also an element of future-proofing, and while we are supporting the education sector today, we also hope to empower employees to become coaches themselves in the future and support up and coming talent. To improve Scotland’s wellbeing, not just in the education sector but in other areas of the economy too, we need to work together to offer employers and employees the tools they need to make positive changes.”

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