Client Case Study - Virtual Assistant support for Teach Outdoors
Posted on 18th June 2023 at 19:46
Alchemy VA Client Case Study - Teach Outdoors
They say people are born to teach, and Jo Clanfield is one of them.
A highly experienced teacher with an unwavering passion for education and the outdoors, Jo took the leap to combine both. This was eight years ago and she’s never looked back.
Jo’s experience of teaching in Reception provided the catalyst for her love of outdoor education. Embracing the early years ethos of child-led learning - often in an outdoor setting - Jo took the approach to older year groups. The impact on the children was huge. With smiles on their faces, they became engaged as learning was practical and fun.
Exploring this further, Jo found research highlighting the benefits of outdoor learning: from well-being and greater levels of physical activity to emphasis on developing life skills and more.
It’s a sad fact that, from the age of seven, opportunities to be active and play outdoors begin to decrease for our children. Physical activity declines by 4% every year as they lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Undoubtedly, our modern age of digital technology has contributed to this decline in physical activity. Along with perceived physical safety issues, education pressures to teach specific curriculum objectives, and the emphasis on data and accountability - there is a multitude of reasons why sedentary learning is becoming the norm.
But research supports the benefits of active lifestyles and being physically active. And so, with a desire to implement active learning into schools in a way that would support both children and teachers…
...Jo found her niche.
After the birth of her children, Jo stayed within education, teaching, supporting teachers and reviewing educational resources while juggling motherhood. She took her extensive training further with beach and forest school qualifications and founded her company Teach Outdoors - a consultancy service that supports and trains schools to utilise their outdoor spaces effectively. With her deep knowledge and understanding of ways that outdoor learning can support regulation, improve engagement and promote well-being, Jo’s vital services interrupt the perfect storm of decreased activity and increased mental health issues in children.
When it comes to teaching, Jo knows her stuff, and she has what it takes to build a business. But Jo’s heart is in the classroom - teaching and supporting educators are where she needs and wants to be. Social media and understanding marketing were proving a stumbling block for Jo’s business. She knew what she needed to do, but having the time and skills to do them was a challenge.
As so many find when going it alone, so much time was being spent working in the business, not on the business.
There were too many plates to spin with too much on them for Jo alone, and so she knew that infrastructure and systems to run the business were needed.
Early on, Jo enlisted the help of the University of Northampton with great success. Working with the Business Support Team, she was signposted to the Knowledge Exchange For Better Business (KE4BB) Programme, and with help from a Business Advisor began working with Ruth Roan, Founder and Consultant at Building Business.
With Ruth’s guidance, recommendations were made for Teach Outdoors to get support through the KE4BB and Alchemy VA.
Jo was also able to take an opportunity with the Changemaker Hub Big 22, so the programmes became intertwined. The programmes allowed Jo to hire an intern, and then working with Alchemy VA was an open book. Jo had not used VA services before, and wasn’t quite sure how to take advantage, but once Sarah and the team sat down together, it soon became abundantly clear. Laying the groundwork and going through all the finer details of the business, Jo and Alchemy got infrastructure and plans in place.
Jo describes Rachel who is a valued member of Sarah's Damani's Alchemy Virtual Assistance Franchise - as having a 'best friend' in the business. Rachel’s knowledge and experience complement Jo’s perfectly, and the advantages they each bring to Teach Outdoors are invaluable.
Through building a plan with Alchemy VA, working ‘on’ the business became possible. The primary service was social media and marketing, but with a huge dose of organisational input and structure, enabling Jo to concentrate on identifying her offering and creating consistency with it.
With a quickly developing relationship came focus and accountability.
When challenges presented themselves, Sarah, Rachel and the wider Alchemy Virtual Assistant family helped Jo to channel her focus and create some clarity in tricky times. With Alchemy's knowledge and support, Jo could tighten up procedures and systems and implement consistency in communications.
Actionable and practical services aside, Jo was able to lean on Rachel and Alchemy VA at a time of significant growth. When asked why she thinks Teach Outdoors and Alchemy VA work so well together, Jo waxes lyrical on her relationship with Rachel...
“Working with Alchemy Virtual Assistance has given me confidence, someone on my side, who is pushing me to get to the growth I want to achieve - helping me find venues for events, sound boarding my offers and services and more. My biggest cheerleader in so many ways, we get on famously, but she also understands the business. She’s taken the time to get deep into what we are about, from the nuances to the bigger picture. And she goes over and above to make sure my message is communicated to the right people, in the right way.”
Moving forward, Jo has learned to lean on others to get the job done. Having experienced the difference a Virtual Assistant can make, there is no turning back, and Jo continues to work with Alchemy Virtual Assistance post-KE4BB. In doing so, Jo can forecast real growth for Teach Outdoors, hire experts, serve more schools and enrich more students. And dreams with becoming a reality, she held her first event on the 13th June 2023 - the Outdoor Learning Conference at the University of Northampton, something she had always wanted to do but that had always been on the back burner. With Alchemy’s support, it was ready to go.
Jo says if you’re unsure about a Virtual Assistant, ask yourself this...
What takes up your time and takes you away from the core elements of your business?
And there is where you’ll find the answer to whether you need an Alchemy Virtual Assistant...
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