The Maths and English department at East Sussex College Eastbourne has taken an innovative approach to students’ learning this academic year

The team has employed the services of a confidence coach to boost the performance of students taking Maths and English GCSEs at the college.

It has been shown that performance for students in further education is closely related to confidence and self-belief, as well as knowledge of the subject being studied. With this in mind, the department bid for funding from the OFS Uni Connect project, through the Sussex Learning Network, to employ the services of Zoe Carroll. Zoe, as well as being a Public Services tutor at ESC, is a life coach with a specialism in fear and confidence, and is using this role to help prepare students ahead of their assessments.

The GCSE students were taught about what happens in their brains when they feel nervous, and given eight methods to apply before and during assessments to boost their confidence and self-belief, alongside techniques to stay calm.

Sandra Archer-Simmons, head of Maths and English at the college said, “We could see that our students needed support with their confidence and leapt at the chance to try something different. It has been great to have Zoe’s support and to show our students that by using these simple techniques, they can reach their potential in their assessments.”

Zoe has previously worked with sports performers who suffered from performance anxiety before competitions. Studying fear and how extreme sports people dealt with it, she’s taken what she learnt and is now applying it inside the classroom as well as on the pitch.

She says, “When we’re anxious, our mind can start shutting down, while our body wants to run away, so it speeds up our heart rate and breathing. This isn’t ideal in an exam or test! If we can help these students to stay calm and manage their performance worries, they are better able to reach their potential.”

The GCSE results are eagerly awaited but the coaching has already shown an increase of almost 25 per cent in students’ confidence levels. This extra confidence will enable students to readily handle more stressful situations, both now and in the future.