As Shakespeare said, ‘all the world’s a stage’ and Footlights consistently strives to be part of it. During the first week of the pandemic of COVID-19 the company put in place the strictest measures of safety they could, whilst maintaining as much ‘normality’ as possible for the students through their weekly classes. Then came the heart-breaking but essential news that all schools, clubs and activities should close with immediate effect. The news was devasting not only to Head Office but of course to the Franchisees, some of whom have been building their businesses for less than a year.
Fortunately, the CEO of Footlights, Jo Fisher, is also a fully qualified teacher and has years of experience in leading departments through unusual situations. She quickly drew up her masterplan: within 24 hours of the news she held a Zoom meeting with all Franchisees and by Monday 23 March, just four days after the government announcement, had launched the Footlights Online campaign #WeWillRise
Not a minute of learning has been lost. Not only are tutors across the organisation delivering live sessions for all the family across social media platforms, but their REGULAR 55 MINUTE weekly lessons are running across all franchisees and company owned units – with homework and feedback! In conjunction with one of her key educationalists, Jo Fisher set up Google Classrooms for each student across the whole of Footlights to access their full length Acting, Singing and Dance lessons. They can take part in the classes, complete assignments, submit them for feedback and even receive a certificate of achievement for the hours they have studied!
Jo said: “Live classes are excellent during normal circumstances, and I appreciate the immediate gratification of them, however we know that we are preparing the performers of the future and we wanted them to continue their learning without disruption. This is also a great opportunity for students to learn at their own pace; practise dance routines repeatedly, hone their singing skills, and prepare performance work to hand in. It’s a ‘stop and start’ system, they can pause and rewind as needed, and the classes are there for them to return to whenever they have time.” Jo Fisher
Liliana, a parent, writes “Although Libbie is really missing her Footlights family – the teachers and her friends – she is really enjoying the online classes. I want to say thank you to you all for making sure the kids are still learning what they love to do. Footlights has been part of our lives for the past eight years so, if Libbie didn’t have these online classes now, it would just add to all the chaos and abnormality that is already going on in her life at the moment.”
The Franchisees have had great feedback too. Anna Morgan (Director, Footlights Sale) said: “In our first week quite a few signed on and took part on Saturday but I know more are doing it through the week as well which is good. The F2s were saying hi to each other and commenting on how excited they were for the classes on the ‘stream’ tab which was lovely to read!”
Lisa Donnelly (Director, Footlights Bolton South) has been getting involved herself: “I’ve been joining in and I have even had a couple of brand new kids sign up, it’s genius! Of course there is nothing like face-to-face contact teaching but I’m over the moon we can offer full lessons and keep in contact with our children’s families”
Footlights face-to-face classes will be back as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, this situation has brought together our Franchisees even more, the support network is constantly full of ideas, advice and positivity. With more than 300 children logging into our online classes during the first weekend, our Franchisees have more faith in our brand than ever before, they know that our Footlights will continue to shine.