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Running a performing arts school in a challenging time!

The last six months have been a challenging time for many businesses and Jigsaw Performing Arts School was also one of them. We had to close our doors before the end of the Spring term and lots of shows that the children had been working towards didn’t go ahead. It was very disappointing. We never imagined we wouldn’t run any classes at all in the Summer term and after 25 years of classes, this was something we hadn’t experienced before.

We spoke to our experienced franchisee, Katie, who runs three Jigsaw schools in Bushey, Watford and Hendon to find out about the impact that the lockdown had on her and how she is getting ready to relaunch weekend classes in September.

 

How did you feel when you had to close the schools before the end of term?

​It was devastating to finish the term early, especially in Jigsaw Hendon where sadly our 5-6’s and main school students couldn’t perform the shows that they had worked so hard for! Luckily we know there will be plenty more opportunities to come in the future and it will be even more exciting next time round!

How did you fill your time during lockdown?

​I spent a lot of time in lockdown trying to get ahead and prepare my schools for when we could safely reopen as in the early lockdown days we weren’t sure whether this would be in May or September. I am expecting my first baby in a few weeks time so I have spent lots of time preparing for his arrival which is lots of fun and of course going to all my scans/appointments!

As soon as we heard we could run Summer Schools it was full steam ahead as I felt it was so important that children have the opportunity to get back into their activities, structure and to see their friends again. I am so glad we could make this happen at Jigsaw.

Did you manage to keep in touch with your students?

​Our “Jigsaw at Home” videos were provided by head office for free and were a great way of keeping in touch with our students and making sure they had the opportunity to continue with Jigsaw during lockdown. It was always lovely to receive photos and videos of our students performing in their living rooms!

Did you receive any support from head office?

Head office were very helpful with preparing to re-open our weekend schools – the communication has been strong and I feel we have been guided every step of the way to make it all happen. The Jigsaw network is one big team and it has been wonderful to support each other throughout such unusual times.

How did you know it was time to relaunch?

I was delighted when I got the go ahead from my Jigsaw venues that we could run Summer Schools. This enabled me to put all of our safety measures in place so in a few weeks time when we are back at our weekend school I feel super confident that it is the right time to be back. I’m very excited to see our students thriving again in their Jigsaw environment!

You were able to run two summer schools in Watford and Hendon, did it feel different to normal?

We were very lucky to be able to run Summer Schools in Watford and Hendon so my focus over the last few weeks has been to bring together a superb team of teachers who could deliver fantastic sessions for our students. It was amazing to be back at Jigsaw and to hear the school full of music and laughter again.

I thought it would feel different to usual as I know behind the scenes we put in a lot of effort to ensure an extra safe environment. However for our students it was very much the same Jigsaw that they know and love – just with the added hand washing! We kept them on their toes with exciting daily themes such as “Musical Monday” and “Tune in Thursday” so they produced some wonderful pieces across the week. We had so much fun!

Will anything be different in September?

In September, we are reducing class sizes so it is more important than ever to secure your child’s place as soon as possible! We are very lucky that our venues provide lovely large well ventilated spaces for us, and we already use “spots” in classes for our younger students to stand on so they have plenty of space.  I have made sure my schools have their own entrance/exit/toilets for Jigsaw use only and our sessions will be “drop off” as usual. Our students will still be enjoying all aspects of the performing arts and I look forward to seeing them continue to gain confidence over next term. That is what we are all about!

 

We can’t wait to be back for our Autumn term at Jigsaw Watford and Hendon on Saturday 26th September and Jigsaw Bushey on Sunday 27th September! For more information about our two week trial for new students just contact Katie on 020 3553 1082 or e-mail katie@jigsaw-arts.co.uk. Spaces are limited so get in touch soon!

Or if you’d like to be a part of the Jigsaw network and run your performing arts school franchise, you can find more information here or contact our Director of Franchising, Andy Hutchings by emailing franchise@jigsaw-arts.co.uk