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Spotlight on Balham school manager, Emily

Jigsaw Balham school manager

Welcome to the Jigsaw franchise network Emily! 

Emily has been a teacher and manager at Jigsaw Performing Arts Schools for just over 6 years and leads the singing teacher induction days. Emily had just taken ownership of the school when lockdown hit, not exactly what she was expecting at the beginning of her franchise journey. Emily had just completed her training and then all of her plans had to go on hold.

However, in July, Chestnut Grove Academy announced they were ready to take Jigsaw back, so Emily jumped at the chance of running the Covid Safe pilot for the whole network of Jigsaw schools.


How did the trial at Jigsaw Balham go?

The trial went brilliantly! It was so wonderful to get back to some normality and to see some of our Jigsaw Balham family. It has been such a strange time for everybody and it felt great to be able to offer the students the opportunity to see friends before the summer holidays.

It was fantastic to see the physically distanced classes happen, whilst not losing the usual joy and fun of Jigsaw. The parents were fantastic as ever and supported the few changes we made to ensure the safety of the children and staff. The atmosphere felt just like a normal Saturday at Jigsaw, it was super! 


Did the new safety measures impact on the children’s enjoyment of their classes?

Not at all. The classes were specially designed to ensure the children were physically distanced and we had a one way system in place to ensure the groups of children stayed separate at all times. Jigsaw looked and felt like normal with a few minor tweaks. For example, we asked the parents not to come into the building, instead queuing up to drop off and collect their child outside. We also limited bags and snacks and ensured heightened hand hygiene.

Utilising spots, the children had their own space to explore the exciting, engaging activities the teachers had planned. Whilst Jigsaw might have looked a little different, the children still had the same wonderful, upbeat and creative experience. 


Now that the trial is done, you are ready to run your annual summer school.  What do you have planned?

 Yes, we are running a week long summer school at Chestnut Grove Academy in Balham from Monday the 10th of August to Friday the 14th of August 2020. Summer school is my favourite week of the year, I am so excited to get back in the room and get creative. This year, my fab team and I will be running mini projects and workshops throughout the week with different themes each day. I am particularly looking forward to TV Tuesday and West End Wednesday.

I think it is super important that children have the opportunity to attend structured activities over the holidays in preparation for a return to school in September. Attending summer schools gives the chance to let off some steam, supports their mental health, make new friends and most importantly, have lots and lots of fun! 

Jigsaw Balham Show


You must be excited to get back to the weekend classes in September too.  When does the term start?

 I am SO excited to get back! Whilst the team and I have kept being super creative since March, engaging with students via the Jigsaw At Home videos and the interactive zoom quizzes we have all grown accustomed to, nothing will beat that feeling when we see everyone again on the first day of term. We will be back at Jigsaw Balham  on Saturday the 26th of September to Saturday 5th of December at Chestnut Grove Academy. 


What made you decide to become a Jigsaw franchisee?

I started off working with Jigsaw to support my career as a performer back in 2014. I started as a singing teacher at Jigsaw Balham, moving to manager in 2016. I very quickly fell in love with the ethos and positive vibe the network has. When the opportunity arose to take over as a franchisee, there were no questions asked.

Jigsaw has this unique family feel to it that I have never found anywhere else. It provides a place where any child can find their sparkle and their place to belong, no matter if they have dreams of being on Broadway or just come along to have some fun and make new friends. Jigsaw Arts brings accessible performing arts education to the community, teaching the whole child and supporting their journey to become confident young adults. I couldn’t be happier to be embarking on this exciting journey as a new franchisee. 


We wish Emily lots of success with her new franchise.  She has been such a fantastic teacher and manager at Jigsaw that we are confident she will be an outstanding franchisee.  Good luck!