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“As Lainy is able to train, coach and mentor on such a wide variety of issues, it gives us extreme flexibility in the support we can offer our staff. Her understanding and use of human dynamics, explaining why people relate and communicate with one another the way they do, has informed how we lead, manage and teach.          


As a Principal, I find her support both transformative and highly motivating; it certainly adds a very valuable dimension to the leadership team”. 

Donna Marie Janson – CEO & Principal

Varndean College




Developing personal practice and effectiveness in leadership, management, teaching or learning support whilst creating highly functioning teams is tough, each person handles development, learning and change differently and it can be a minefield choosing and delivering the right support for everyone.


Communication and understanding those tricky interpersonal relationships and interactions we have with people at work can really make a difference to performance and change management, so we work with you to develop the skills to succeed using the latest science and research about how our brains and minds work. Studies show that the root of most problems is communication, whether that is direct, virtual or in writing and there are really good reasons for this. We will show you what happens in communication transactions and what you can do to be an expert communicator. As we know everyone learns differently and I wonder how well we apply this knowledge to staff as well as students. The other key element to an harmonious working environment where people can thrive and be successful, is in the areas conflict, disagreements and unwanted staff behaviours, so we also look in detail at why this happens, how to avoid it where possible and how to handle it when it occurs.




This human dynamics approach can inform:


  • Change management at all levels

  • Engaging and motivating students  

  • Behaviour management

  • Parent engagement

  • Career advancement

  • Managing unwanted staff behaviours

  • Having difficult conversations

  • Influencing skills

  • Conflict avoidance or resolution

  • Improved wellbeing

  • Better time management

  • Better performance and success

One thing I have learned is that basically we all want the same thing... to feel successful, to feel that we are making a difference, a valuable contribution and to be happy, enjoying our days (or evenings) at work, whilst earning enough money to feel secure.


The common things that seem to hamper having positive experiences are usually time pressures in a very busy, demanding and changing world, feeling overwhelmed, fear of redundancy, interpersonal difficulties and often poor or diminishing mental wellbeing.

Staff are also set back by lack of knowledge or understanding - feeling out of one's depth,  and in some cases technological advances.


The best thing we can do for staff individually and in teams is to start with how they think about any given situation. Positive performance starts from within and we need to look at the beliefs, values and mindset of the people we are working with and of course our own!


 Becoming more  'Conscious'  of these things is the first step

BUT knowing how to adeptly use this knowledge

(I call this the 'missing-link'), creates sustained success.












Leadership and management


With a combination of training, coaching and mentoring, develop your knowledge and understanding of the key aspects of managing and leading people successfully within an educational environment, this could be a school, a college, private training provider or within HE settings and universities. As leadership comes from all the members of the senior leadership team, we often look at the key impact leadership training or coaching would have on the whole organisation, however, it is also a very personal journey so individuals may wish to follow their own path. You can choose what to work on and set your own goals. 


  • New to management

  • New to an organisation and hitting the ground running

  • New to senior management or leadership

  • In a management role wanting career progression

  • Senior manager or leader confronting demanding challenges

  • Overcoming the imposter syndrome

  • Change management

  • Influencing skills & effective communication

  • Conflict and behaviour

  • Aspiring managers

  • Senior leadership team training

Managing your Manager

As with many of the subjects we talk about at Flourish, there have been lots of books written about this issue, how do we create better relationships with our line managers? There are several things to consider but reading about them here or in a book may not help you, this is because you need to discuss your particular situation, as well as learn the strategies. Each relationship is different. Think about members of your family and your friends, are you the same with all of them? Do you act the same way, even think the same way, or does the interaction with them bring out different aspects of your personality? 

Looking at a human dynamics approach will teach you how to do some pretty odd things that at first you may not want to; things like:

  • Empathise with their situation

  • Understanding their personality and how they best receive information

  • Using their strengths

  • Building rapport

  • Different ways of explaining or asking for things

This is just a flavour of who we can 'influence' relationships and better working dynamics.


Being coached and learning to coach others: we coach all levels of staff

These sessions are always carefully tailored to the individual and the organisational ethos and we discuss approaches before the work commences. Coaching is confidential and we will discuss this with you. Staff say they find this approach refreshing and it allows them to think and talk through things that may otherwise 'block' their success and that of their teams.

Commitment to a minimum of 6 sessions are necessary; however, we will discuss the best way forward when we understand your needs, we can work with very small groups or one-to-one. 


  • Everything discussed and planned in advance

  • Tailor-made solutions wrapped around your need

  • Positive, flexible approach to gain best results

  • Working in small management or leadership teams or with individuals

  • Working with teachers and support staff on a wide range of issues

  • We can work remotely, face-to-face or a combination of the two.

If you would like to learn how to use our human dynamic method of coaching and look at all of the elements from other coaching techniques we use, we can  work on a one-to-one or small dicreet group of staff on perfecting these skills.

Important; This is not counselling, should it emerge that counselling may be suitable as well as, or instead of coaching, Lainy will be happy to advise on how to look for a suitable practitioner.

"Lainy combines her knowledge and understanding of leadership with her considerable facilitation skills".

Ali Foss - CEO































High Performing Teams


Positive performance starts from within and we need to look at the beliefs, values and mindset of the people we are working with, and of course our own! People need to engage with one another to create and sign up to a shared goal, shared vision and shared practices. One of the things that people tell me is that they often feel a lack of respect within teams and are uncomfortable with certain team members' behaviour. Another common conversation we have is the feeling of being valued. So you can see from this that high performance from any team involves more than just the members of the team, it involves managers, deputy leaders, senior leaders, support staff and includes processes and procedures. 

Good teams can often lose focus and motivation in times of change or in  restructures, inspections, audits and obviously during times where there may be financial stresses. Teams often say that the communication cascading down from the top is lacking, confusing or is 'tone deaf' to the situation, staff often feel they could have contributed more to discussions to find solutions to problems or development needs. 

In building effective teams we will look at:

  • The common purpose of the team

  • The clear and defined roles within the team

  • Leadership of the team

  • Establishing effective processes to support the work of the team

  • Relationships and co-operation/support

  • Communication






Behaviour management

This is in any learning environment or classroom or in the staff room!!!


Any sort of potential conflict, no matter how low level, is the topic that nearly everyone dislikes the most, fear of it occurring and fear of handling it. Poor or inappropriate behaviour, particularly leading to unpleasant interactions or conflict is never enjoyable, whether in the workplace or outside of it, but we need to look at the causes, then the prevention and finally managing it.


Once people learn the human dynamics around behaviour management either in children, teens or adults and learn strategies that truly influence the situation they are stunned at how much can be avoided. Someone on one of our training days just recently exclaimed everyone should know about this and I am going to tell the whole team! It really is that powerful.

Many times behaviour issues with students land at a senior managers door or if conflict arises with staff it usually involves the HR department so we work closely with leaders and HR professionals to support processes and offer coaching and guidance.

Every situation, every class, every team is unique because every person is unique, so although we can learn basic strategies and tools to help us we must also learn the human dynamic approach in order to read each situation and respond in tailored ways for positive outcomes.


“Joining Flourish as a partner has been an enormous help to me as the Head of HR, having an unbiased person to discuss issues with is invaluable. Lainy engages with staff on a range of often quite complex and sensitive situations, coaching and mentoring them with her human dynamic approach, we always have great feedback from staff and Lainy achieves such positive results”.

Emma Rich - Head of HR














Change and Adapting


You can follow a multitude of options for change management and different people will favour different methods, our approach is to enhance all of the theories out there so they become more effective in your particular circumstances and environment.

We will:

  • Work with you on 'selling' the changes that need to happen and how to get people's 'buy-in'

  • Coach you on handling difficult conversations, situations and avoid potential conflict

  • Support HR in supporting staff who are fearful and stressed

  • Support leaders and managers to manage the change personally

  • Be a critical friend who can ask questions and help solution focussed conversations

As situations arise and change we can adapt and support you flexibly and may introduce you to others who would be a support.




Career Advancement

This section is about personal coaching with the sole purpose of looking to future career goals and the journey to them, this is individualised and person centred. We can also look at mentoring to develop certain personal skills and attributes needed for your intended role.

Lainy has seen people rising through the ranks of their profession many times over the years and if you would like a chat about what could work for you, please contact her directly.

“We went to see a psychologist with our son a couple of years ago as we were desperate for help, it cost a fortune! Things were escalating and although she listened and gave us some basic advice, we only got real results through empathy, connection, listening, using emotion coaching and looking for reasons behind behaviour. I wish we had met Lainy sooner, an hour with her would have been way more useful and I am so grateful for all the advice and help I have received from her since”.

Anon to protect child identity

Parenting partnership

Much of the work we do at Flourish is about human interaction, building rapport, managing difficult conversations and creating trust and respect between people. We have different methods of working with parents:

1.Working with school/college staff on engagements strategies and communication

2.Running parenting sessions for parenting within school/college to better understand their child/teen and so leading to better support of their learning and helps to build relationships with  school/college staff as well as improving behaviour and attendance

3.Parent coaching, one-to-one support for parents who are struggling (usually funded by the  parents but can be funded by the educational establishment)

Please see our sister site for adolescent (11+)specific help 

We can also signpost parents to colleagues dealing with specific issues around child to parent abuse and where parents may be worried about their own safety.

Case study

Cole family - Berkshire

Lainy listened to really try and understand our whole family dynamics and needs.  She asked us lots of questions to get to the nub of the issues. 

We found Lainy professional, warm, non-judgemental and easy to talk to.  Her exposure to lots of different behaviours, personalities and situations means that she draws from real experience and understanding to address issues.

Lainy also tells you straight.  For us we had to make some great mental shifts in our approaches – this requires understanding, dedication and is absolutely necessary for this to be successful. 

Key takes outs/lightbulb moments for us have been;


  • I now have a young adult not a small child and I haven’t adapted my parenting techniques in some key areas – instead of controlling I need to teach him to negotiate and make the right choices

  • To re-engage – find the nugget (whatever that nugget might be) and get all over it!


  • How our teen is processing info is very different from how we do

  • Separating the teenage behaviour from the boy

At the beginning of our journey our teen was doing what he wanted, when he wanted without a second thought for anyone else in the family and what consequences he might be creating.  He was not really communicating with us, even to the point of letting us know he was safe. His time was spent in his bedroom or out with friends (for long periods of time, every day) and coming home very late.

The journey has been bumpy – it’s been a rollercoaster ride and we are strapped in for the ride.

We have had weeks of real improvement – positive and impressive, then weeks of awful behaviour when it felt like we had taken many steps backwards. 

However, on reflection, each obstacle never quite took us back to the beginning so we were making progress all the time BUT it didn’t feel like it.  We are not going to lie our journey hasn’t been easy and it takes commitment and effort (bucket loads).  We’ve celebrated our successes and cried through some tough times and everything in between!

Having the sessions as a couple has worked well for us.  Seeing where we each struggle in certain areas has allowed us to support each other better.  We can also discuss things constructively rather than just getting wound up about the situation.  We quite often find ourselves asking ‘what do you think Lainy would have done/said?’ etc 

Coaching is powerful when you can’t see the wood for the trees and are overwhelmed with emotions – Lainy has helped us carve a path and tackle issues step by step.  We have been given guidance on strategies and tactics that are right for us and our family.

In terms of our goals;

  • We have managed to re-engage with our son (and continue to work on this)

  • We have created many opportunities to communicate

  • We are communicating better (and continue to work on this) – as well as general communication we have had some real breakthrough moments in terms of him opening up to us about a peer relationship breakdown and about an incident with another group of teenagers.

  • In terms of amending the inappropriate behaviour –

    • he is now not coming home late every evening – we have negotiated timings during the week and timings for the weekend

    • he now answers most of our calls/messages and lets us know he is ok or where he is etc

    • he engages with the family unit more

    • we laugh more together

    • we hug more

  • boost happiness with all family members –

    • the reduced aggravation and anger is very noticeable in the household

    • this makes life much nicer for our other son too

    • we have not shouted for many many weeks now – it’s so much nicer

    • the good moments are so wonderful it gives us the strength to keep going

We are still on our journey and always will be as life will continually evolve and the teens will grow and bring other challenges we’re sure.  We feel better equipped and know that there is support available for us too.


"We worked at integrating the maths and English teachers into the sports curriculum area to engage the students in different ways and raise their attainment. They were the only group in the college to attain at the national benchmark level that year"

"Success has come where Lainy had been able to engage with teachers over extended periods of time, observing teaching, providing focussed feedback, coaching support and working with teachers to implement new strategies". 

Stuart Barlow – VP Curriculum

Teaching adolescents

Teaching Times article on teaching maths 

Yes it is different, and yes it is from the age of 11!!!

The minute a child hits 'big' school, they start to metamorphose, as the process increases with age we can get very lost in the their journey and teaching becomes more challenging. So now you need to learn how to become a 'teen whisperer', we will look at the following while working individually or with groups of staff.

  • What's happening to them physically and biologically that is impacting on teaching and learning

  • Psychology of the teen

  • New engagement methods for this age and as they go through adolescence

  • Motivation

  • Communication

  • Wellbeing and mental health

  • Independence - the emerging young adult

  • Parent engagement (above 'Parenting Partnership')

“The comments that came from staff said it all  – most relevant training in a long time, because it focussed specifically on the types of students staff are working with. Lainy really understood students with SEND and working with students with behavioural issues.” 

T Cole - Managing Director Highbury College


There are a number of important elements to this strand of work and we work with education providers, local authority staff, parents and carers.

Lainy regularly works with Inside Government Education to talk about EHCPs in the transition from school to post 16 and adulthood. See here for details.

Teaching Times article on SEND by Lainy Russell 

In schools and colleges across the country, staff are teaching and supporting young people with a myriad of special needs and disabilities. There are so many variations and individuality to these needs, that it is almost impossible to have a ‘standard’ solution that fully and most appropriately supports each young person. Think about how many personality types there are, how much human diversity there is, what cultural differences we see, and we all see life through a unique perspective. So, you may have cerebral palsy, but who are you? Cultural beliefs, personal beliefs, gender, sexuality, extrovert or introvert, creative or practical, likes and dislikes all make up part of a person’s identity, but it is also important to ask, “what are your life goals?” Everyone will learn differently due to their unique personal identity whether they have a special educational need or disability (SEND) or not.  


  • Independence

  • What does inclusion actually mean?

  • Getting the best out of your EHCP

  • Getting over the fear factor - what if I get it wrong?

  • Multi-disciplinary working

  • Behaviour issues

  • Anxiety and mental health

  • Work experience

  • Annual reviews

  • Parental engagement

  • Hidden disability awareness

  • Unconscious bias

"She (Lainy) is adept at identifying ways to help teams find and own solutions. Lainy inspires trust, and always demonstrates the highest levels of professionalism and integrity".


Ali Foss - CEO


"Lainy was exceptional at getting to know me as a person and, therefore, understanding how I work best and where I might need to develop as a leader. Her questions challenged me to think and consider new approaches, making me realise some things about myself that maybe I hadn't considered before. Having a coach that cares about my development from a personal perspective is really important to me; Lainy takes the lead from you and works from there, so you feel comfortable in celebrating the positive and working through areas to improve. A very positive experience with you at the centre of it".

Clare Last - Manager in the Sports Industry

"When our action plan wasn’t working, she (Lainy') probed into the reasons why and quickly changed focus and got the team on side working on a new plan.  We addressed the elephant in the room (behaviour management) and this took over as our major focus. This only happened as we began getting to know each other and the team and Lainy built up a trusting and supportive relationship, I don’t think this would have come out at the beginning. As one of our team commented, “she not only talks the talk, but walks the walk” as she went undercover as an LSA to observe some issues that then supported staff  training and coaching". 

D. Cuffe - Head of department

"We kicked the year off with Lainy delivering to over 100 staff on the importance of identifying, planning for and working on the changes we needed to embed.  

We also took a very proactive and forward thinking look at our senior leaders and management team and Lainy worked with this group on developing a shared management style, shared communication methods and agreed ways of delivering organisational strategies and action plans. 

Assistant Principal - 6th Form College, Southampton


"Because I valued the support so much, Lainy followed me to my new, more senior role and we worked together for another year".


A Parsons 

case student parent
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