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But does it work?

Life coaching sounds fine in theory, but how to put it to the test? Katherine Twyman (below), 22, is a teacher and has just embarked on a three-month course of telephone sessions with Monique (below, left), courtesy of The TES. We'll report back in the summer to find out if coaching has changed her life.

"I didn't know anything about life coaching," says Katherine, "and I've never felt I needed something like it. But it sounds interesting." One thing she does know is that, as an NQT, she couldn't afford it herself. "It's around pound;100 a month. I don't see how any teacher could afford it."

Katherine teaches English at the Westlands school, a 1,500-pupil secondary in Sittingbourne, Kent. She lives in Dover with her boyfriend, Philip.

After her initial session, Katherine is enthusiastic. "Monique is easy to talk to but she's challenging too. She brings up things I've never really considered. You can tell she knows what she's talking about."

One of the first issues discussed was finances. "I've got to budget better," says Katherine. Te initial session dealt mostly with Katherine' school life, but her personal life will soon come under scrutiny.

Katherine confided her worries as a new teacher. "We spoke about my insecurities. I'm still finding my feet. And I'm a little paranoid, not relaxed enough."

Teaching pupils aged 11-18 in such a large school, Katherine feels "frustrated at the wide variety of special needs and behavioural problems". She and Monique will be working on how she can spread herself around better.

Having made the decision to go into teaching, Katherine is now wondering if she did the right thing. "I didn't realise it would be so demanding. Phil's work shifts aren't compatible with my work and we rarely go out together any more," she says.

On the other hand, though, she admits: "You do feel a high after a good lesson." The most refreshing aspect of the first session for Katherine was its "can-do" nature. "Monique won't take any whingeing," she says. "She has already made me see I sometimes moan about things I could easily change."

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