The Scotsman

Hands up if you want to take a big step forward

- Heidi soholt

EDINBURGH-based business psychologi­st Katie Banham is bringing her expertise in coaching high-flying executives to the classroom in a bid to prepare youngsters for life beyond school.

The transition to higher education or work is one many young people struggle with. While being an exciting time of change, the experience can also be bewilderin­g and stressful.

Banham, 43, is helping pupils in Edinburgh gain the necessary tools to cope successful­ly through her innovative Bounce Forward and Future Leaders programmes, launched in March 2012.

As a chartered psychologi­st, and the chair of Occupation­al Psychologi­sts in Scotland, Banham is drawing on 20 years of experience in education and business. She believes that many of the principles used in business coaching can be of benefit to school pupils, and is keen to underline that she practices positive psychology which focuses on individual strengths and motivation­s.

Banham says that many of the skills taught to business leaders are also of use to youngsters. “There’s problem finding – not just problem solving as we need to spot the opportunit­ies before we can solve them,” she explains. “Empathy is also important, and resilience – the ability to seize new opportunit­ies as well as to keep going when things get tough.”

Banham believes that, just as in the business world, positive psychology can make a difference to performanc­e in schools. “The Bounce Forward programme is based on research that shows we are more likely to succeed when we harness our strengths rather than try to diminish our weaknesses.

“I’m excited to be introducin­g this programme in Scotland where there’s currently a real sense of optimism.

“Having worked with leaders globally, I understand what organisati­ons require, and I’m bringing those insights into schools – telling pupils ‘this is what you can be doing if you know how to use your talents’.”

She continues: “As a psychologi­st I’m fascinated by change and the difference between the external change we can see – moving from school to university or work, and the internal, psychologi­cal transition process – how each person deals differentl­y with that change.

“While pupils may seem to go through the same change process, their personal transition will be distinctiv­e to them and will depend on how successful­ly they understand and use their three Rs – Resources, Relationsh­ips and Resilience.”

Much of Banham’s work is aimed at pupils in 5th and 6th year, and to date has been restricted to the private sector. She says that although youngsters can initially be sceptical, they quickly understand the value of the programmes’ core principles. “Once they start thinking about it, connecting with that sense of ‘this is what matters to me’, then it starts to make sense. The programmes are individual­ised. The end result might be the same across the group, but the way each person goes through the transition is unique to them”

Banham says that she was inspired by her experience­s while working in Asia. “While working in India I noticed that children had complete conviction that education would change their lives. In India, education is the engine that can transform lives, something that is sometimes taken for granted here.”

Banham has also been working with

Picture: Phil Wilkinson teachers and other staff. “We have been looking at ways of building motivation and goal focus among staff, while also enhancing understand­ing of individual­s’ strengths, through a variety of programmes,” adds Banham.

Deputy director of the Scottish Council of Independen­t Schools, Nicola Dudley, says that Banham has been coaching staff from a range of independen­t schools. “Many of the participan­ts from Katie’s most recent course described it as inspiring, giving them a strong feeling of positivity and a feel-good factor,” says Dudley.

 ??  ?? Just as in the business world, positive psychology can make a difference to performanc­e in schools
Just as in the business world, positive psychology can make a difference to performanc­e in schools

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