All posts by Kathrine Smith

Doing Something Different in Education

Last Friday I attended the IPEN (International Positive Education Network) “Ultimate Wellbeing in Education” conference in London and what a day it was!

The day was all about young people and how we can prepare them for a flourishing life. There were teachers, clinicians, coaches and therapists in the room and the atmosphere was buzzing.

Sir Anthony Seldon Introduced an array of amazing speakers including:

  • Gilde Scarfe – Founder of Positive Action UK
  • Mike Buchanan – Executive Director of HMC (the Headmasters & Headmistresses’ Conference is a professional association of heads of the world’s leading independent schools)
  • Stephanie Davies – Founder of Laughology
  • Richard Crellin – The Children’s Society
  • Lucy Baily – CEO of Bounce Forward
  • Luke Rees – #IWILL Campaigner
  • Geoff Barton – General Secretary, ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders)
  • Mark Williamson – Director of Action for Happiness
  • Prof. Martin Seligman – University of Pensylvania
  • Natasha Devon MBE – Author and Mental Health Speaker

The message of the day was ‘Where inspiration meets action’ and there were certainly some awe inspiring speakers with some amazing ideas.

Being with people that are focused on supporting young people to be happy and successful in life and not just from an academic perspective is both exciting and comforting for me.

We can all make a difference to our school students by taking small steps to create bigger change to the current curriculum. Education should not be about statistics or budgets. Learning needs to be fun and thought provoking and it is also about the whole student not just the academic ability.

I am excited to go back to my schools after half term to implement some of the many simple and inspiring ideas that I picked up at the conference. I look forward to seeing what difference I can make for my students next term.

If you know of a young person that would benefit from coaching then please contact me.






Shifting the Educational Focus – Mindfully


Over the last few weeks I have spent some time in London attending the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MISP) conference followed by their four day training course to become a qualified .b teacher trained to teach Mindfulness to 11-18 year olds.

The .b training not only equips you with tools, techniques and lesson plans to assist you in teaching a fun and engaging ten session mindfulness course for young people, it also provides space, time and tranquillity for teachers to work on their own wellbeing.

I have personally been practising Mindfulness over the last four years and have experienced first hand the benefits it can bring to everyday life.

I am looking forward to introducing the .b content into the schools where I currently coach and mentor young people. The potential benefits of introducing mindfulness to students are:

  • An increased feeling of calm and positivity
  • Helps cope with stress and anxiety
  • Improves concentration and focus
  • Builds self-awareness and awareness of others
  • Improves psychological health and wellbeing

Studies of school mindfulness programmes provide evidence  that they have the potential to improve some pupils’ behaviour, executive functioning, psychological health and regulating attention and behaviour.

Mindfulness is something that I offer to all my coaching students in their toolkit of coping strategies for life. The students that have decided to investigate further have said that it helps to clear their head, not feel as overwhelmed and allows them to take things one step at a time.

Mindfulness is not a panacea although if implemented slowly and steadily it can start a transformative and beneficial process for students, teachers and parents involved in the educational environment.

If you are interested in finding out about a more mindful approach in your educational environment from a qualified MISP .b teacher then please contact me.

Young People, Social Media and Energy Drinks

Recently I attended a meeting with the UK Parliament Education and Engagement Service. The other attendees were parents, nurses, teachers, youth workers and carers all of varying age demographics.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the impact on young people regarding:

  • Social Media/Screen Use
  • Energy Drinks

Both subjects have quite an impact on my coaching students across all the schools that I work in so I was pleased to be included in the debate.

The meeting was led by the chair of the Science and Technology select Committee, Norman Lamb (MP). What Norman and his team wanted to find out was:

Energy Drinks

  • What age groups are drinking these drinks
  • Is it a common practice amongst the British public
  • Do people know the difference between energy and fizzy drinks andthe caffeine content
  • Should there be an age limit on purchasing these drinks
  • What are the effects of these drinks on young people under 16
  • Is there a link between energy drinks, online gaming and behaviour
  • What is the public perception around the marketing of energy drinks
  • Is the marketing more appealing to under or over 16’s.

Social Media/Screen Use

  • Do the benefits of social media/screen use outweigh the possible harms
  • Are fears about social media overblown
  • Should there be an age limit for social media
  • What do young people use social media for
  • Are there any well-being benefits from the use of social media
  • What measures are used to police the time young people spend on social media
  • Should the time that young people spend on social media/in front of a screen be monitored and if so by who
  • What measures/controls are needed around screen use/social media for young people

We agreed a set of recommendations from the meeting, which were:

  • Energy drinks should be treated like alcohol and not sold to anyone under the age of 18
  • Energy drinks should not be allowed in school
  • Education around energy drinks to be included in PHSE
  • Parenting Guideline to be produced for social media/screen time
  • Introduction of life skills in school to enable young people to deal with negative impact of social media and build resilience

I have certainly been asked by parents in both my school and private coaching work about ‘what is an acceptable amount of time’ for their children to spend in an evening/weekend gaming or on screens. This suggests that a government or educational guideline would be useful for some families.

Over the four and a half years that I have been coaching young people, I have certainly seen a change in my students behaviours and personalities as they come to work with me. It is very noticeable when they have had an energy drink or even smoked a chemical substance on the way to school. This is where I feel the environment for young people is so different to when I went to school.  Combine that with constantly changing technology, multi-tasking and academic pressure and it is no surprise that the mental health figures are rising.

I am glad to see that there are conversations taking place regarding young people and their environments. I look forward to finding out the outcomes that UK Parliament and Engagement Service take forward to hopefully improve things for our young people.

If you know of a young person that would benefit from coaching or mentoring  then please contact me.

Amazing Opportunity for University Students

I have had a awesome weekend watching my Goddaughter playing sport and having fun at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

As part of the University Officers’ Training Corps (OTC), she was participating in the Queens Challenge Cup (QCC). The QCC tournaments included Netball, Football, Rugby, Hockey, Orienteering and Tug of War. The teams consisted of students from a variety of UK Universities. There were teams from Exeter, Sheffield, Southampton, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and more.

It was amazing to see both male and female students coming together from different parts of the UK to compete in the sporting events. The students also have the opportunity to socialise and get to know one another in the officers’ mess in the evening.

The atmosphere, social interaction and banter between all the students was great to see and a good time was had by all.

Since joining OTC my Goddaughter has also been skiing and plays polo and how amazing that she gets paid to try  different things out.

This is a fantastic opportunity for any university student that is interested in sport, basic and advanced military techniques, map reading, radio procedures, camouflage, weapons training and would like to earn an income whilst doing it.

On the social side there is a lively social scene, formal dinners and fancy dress parties.

The society certainly offers an abundance of opportunities to young people to improve their social, communication and employability skills and I was blown away by what they had to offer.

I had no idea that this opportunity existed so if you know of a young person who would benefit from this sort of society then just click on the link above for more details or find the OTC stand during University Freshers week.

Employability Skills for Young People

I had a super time yesterday at Winchester School of Art, which is part of the University of Southampton.

EmployabilityUK invited me to join a team of professional people to present ‘Inspiration Extra’ to a group of 14-18 year old students from local education establishments.

The workshop enables young people to:

  • Develop confidence
  • Improve employability skills
  • Consider job/career paths
  • Improve their mental health and wellbeing
  • Create financial independence and self-reliance
  • Build self-awareness
  • Be more self-confident, successful, passionate and fulfilled
  • Create their vision board

The students worked individually and collaboratively on their goals giving them the opportunity to develop both their team building and communication skills.

The students found it very useful being able to tap into the knowledge from the varied skills and talents of the team with a view to their future careers.

The workshop is delivered in a familiar, fun and relaxed environment to encourage young people to gently step outside of their comfort zones.

If you know of any young people that would benefit from participating in ‘Inspiration Extra’ then please contact me.

Are You Using An Accredited Coach?

I have been celebrating this week as I have passed my Master Coach Accreditation (AMC) with the IAPC&M (International Authority For Professional Coaching&Mentoring).

Kathrine Smith – AMC certificate

It has taken me just over 2 years to achieve the status of AMC so that I can demonstrate the highest levels of professional standards in the industry.

To achieve my accreditation I have had to provide the following documentary evidence:

  • 180 coach/mentor specific training hours
  • 1500 coaching/mentoring hours
  • 30 hours of CPD each year
  • 15 client testimonials
  • My personal mentoring and supervision details
  • Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance

On top of that I have completed:

  • A 50 minute capability based interview to show my understanding of Professional Standards and Code of Conduct
  • Completed a 50 minute coaching/mentoring session with a coach of a higher grade than myself
  • A reflection essay following my assessment and interview

So what does my accreditation mean for my clients?

It means that:

  • I have passed a recognised process of competence
  • I can provide a quality assurance of service provision
  • I demonstrate personal commitment to my training, certification, experience, capability, competency and integrity
  • It differentiates me from those that are not accredited
  • My clients have somewhere to go, if they are not happy with my services

Continually growing and developing my skills and knowledge is very important to me so that I am able to assist my clients in getting excellent results in what they want to achieve.

As Aristotle quoted “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”

Since becoming a coach I have developed my coaching skills and moved up the professional levels of:

  • Associate
  • Accredited Practitioner
  • Accredited Senior
  • And now to Accredited Master

I am looking forward to continuing my development journey as I work towards my Accredited Fellow Coach (AFC).  Although perhaps a little break from studying and a period of celebrating and fun is in order before I move on.

If you are looking for a Master Coach that strives for excellence and will be pivotal in making successful change happen then please contact me.



Pressure and Stress – Is there a Difference?

It’s that time of year where lots of young people start to feel the pressure as GCSE and A Level exams start to become a reality and the clock starts ticking.

Coaching my students in this final stretch is always challenging and pressure and stress are words that regularly feature. What I do know is that the current school environment is very different to when I was at secondary school. The pressure on young people today to do well and achieve excellent grades is phenomenal. I agree that some of this can come from teachers and parents but it can also come from the young person themselves.

Pressure from social media, a competitive job market and high property prices were not something that I had to contend with, but they are certainly prominent in today’s environment.

Self-awareness and understanding are the main areas that I coach my students on to enable them to develop strength and resilience so that they can flourish as they progress through their education.

Knowing the difference between pressure and stress means they can then select the most effective tools and strategies from their toolbox in order to maintain a balanced life.

Pressure is what young people feel when they have deadlines and goals regarding coursework and exams. This pressure can be managed and is under their control as long as they:

  • Understand what sort of student they are, what makes them tick and what works for them
  • Completely understand what is required of them
  • Use specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related goals
  • Use the 3 P’s – Planning, Preparation and Practice
  • Maintain a good work/fun balance
  • Remove interruptions (social media, phones and technology) so that they can stay focused

When stressed my students experience a lack of control and the fear of the unknown can be rather daunting. Quite often they are not sure what is required of them and they feel anxious and overwhelmed which can lower productivity and output. When stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol which reduces brain activity affecting attention span, concentration and can lead to short-term memory loss. Maintaining a manageable stress level is crucial if young people are to succeed in their exams.

If you know a young person that is feeling stressed about school and exams, and it is affecting their productivity and well-being then please contact me.

Communication and Children’s Mental Health Week

This week is children’s mental health week which runs from 5-11 February 2018.

Many charities are getting involved to raise awareness around mental health and where young people can go to get help.

You can find lots of information at Place2Be so why not have a look and get involved.

A significant part of my coaching work involves working with young people who are struggling in life. This can be for a variety of reasons and very often it relates to their mental health.

Offering young people a safe, familiar and comfortable environment to talk is very important if they are to open up about their worries and fears.  Once they start to talk then it is vital that we listen actively and allow them to speak without interrupting.

Assisting them in taking small, gradual  steps within their own limits is how I encourage them to move forward. My job is to help them remove the obstacles that get in the way of them achieving what they want to do.

If you know a young person that is struggling in life and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.

Reflection and Direction for 2018

Happy 2018 Everybody and I hope you all had a great time over the holidays. I had a fantastic time with friends and family and it was lovely to have my daughter home from university as I had not seen her for several months.

This week I have returned to school to my coaching students and it has been amazing to hear all about their celebrations and the fun they have had. Many of them have already thought about what they want to achieve this year and have started to work on their goals and timelines.

January is definitely a time for reflection. It has been interesting to look back over the past year and acknowledge the things that I have achieved and the fun I have had with family and friends. It certainly gives me food for thought regarding what I want to do this year.

If I look back over the last four years since I set up SimplyPositive, it is unbelievable how my business has grown in so many different directions. When I first started I mainly coached students in school on a one to one basis. Over the last couple of years my work has organically grown where I now also:

  • Lead group workshops
  • Work with teaching staff
  • Visit students at home
  • Work with parents

I am excited to see what 2018 holds for both me and my clients and who knows where we will end up over the year.

If you know of anyone that is struggling with anxiety, motivation or is stuck in a rut and would benefit from life coaching, then please contact me.

Emotional Intelligence for Primary School Children

I love a bit of variety and this week I have not only been coaching, I have also been working with staff from local primary schools about ways in which they can help to increase Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in younger children.

The staff learnt about the four main components of EQ:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Management

We looked at simple strategies and mindful activities that could be done in the classroom to encourage young people to talk about how they are feeling and different ways of expressing their emotions.

Emotions play a big part in the choices and decisions young people make. Not being able to express how they feel on a particular day can also lead to poor choices and decisions which in turn can mean them experiencing more negative emotions like anger, frustration and confusion.

Building emotional intelligence as early as possible means that young people have more understanding about life especially regarding how they feel and the choices and actions they take. EQ encourages young people to be resilient so that they can bounce back when things do not always go to plan.

Combine EQ with a growth-mindset and some Mindfulness and a young person has the main ingredients to create a happy, contented and successful life.

If you know of teaching staff or a young person that would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.