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May 12, 2021

How the Pandemic Transformed My Education Business: Part 2

In the second of this three-part series, One Day Founder and Managing Director, Becky, shares an insight into her world as a small business owner and new mother during the coronavirus pandemic. See part 1 here

“Having thought about the idea non-stop for weeks, we decided we needed to pilot the idea of an on-demand video platform for teachers with a group of trusted schools. We built a website called Uno – a basic version of what it is now – and filmed a few videos. This feels like a lifetime ago and so much has changed since then…”

All of a sudden, September 2020 was here and children were back in schools! How did that happen? Now was the time to launch the very first version of Uno that we had been working hard on over the summer.

Autumn Term 2020: Testing the Online Learning Waters

To start things off, we handpicked a small number of topics to film. We settled on Mindfulness videos for KS1 & KS2, a full day Ancient Rome workshop, a full day Great Fire of London workshop, plus a few shorter warm up activities and songs, including our popular Stone Age rap. Our willing volunteers were 15 primary schools here in the UK, as well as an international school in Malaysia. We gave them their very own Uno logins and welcomed them to get stuck in!

After a nail-biting few weeks, it was time to hear their first reactions to Uno. Hand on heart, I knew that much of Autumn Term 1 had been spent firefighting. Teachers were adapting to the ‘new normal’ and busy supporting the wellbeing of their pupils after a very difficult period of change. I didn’t want our schools to feel as though they had more work to do. So, rather than the Zoom calls we had originally planned, instead I put together a simple feedback form.

The results came in and… they were positive! Most importantly, we received much-needed validation that the concept worked. We now knew that any teacher could press play and instantly feel as though a One Day Facilitator was live and interacting with their pupils in their very own classroom.

Encouraged by this feedback, we quickly began to line up more filming dates. The core One Day team were already brimming with ideas on which topics would be of most benefit to primary schools, such as Online Safety.

When I first had the idea about Uno, one of my main concerns was killing one business model with another. I didn’t want teachers to look at Uno and think they didn’t need live workshops anymore. As the months went on, I slowly realised this wouldn’t happen. The schools who value that face-to-face engagement still loved our workshops. Let’s face it, nothing beats the in-person rapport our Facilitators have with children! Uno’s interactive videos were a unique and necessary recourse, not a replacement. It was a relief to know schools had room for both.

November was much busier than expected and we delivered around 60 in-school workshops (as opposed to the usual 200+, but still I was over the moon!). As we broke for the Christmas holidays, I was already looking forward to launching the New Year with positivity and, finally, a sense of normality.

Spring Term 2021: A Big Setback and the Power of Sharing

Monday 4th January came and the One Day team were raring to begin promoting both our in-school and Uno workshops for Spring Term 1. However, by mid-morning there were whispers of a national address from the PM. My heart sank. Could there really be another lockdown on the way? Safer Internet Week in February (alongside Anti-Bullying Week in November) is our busiest week of the year by far, when we deliver anywhere between 10-15 workshops per day. This was a real opportunity for One Day to get back to some sort of financial health. Sadly, as news came in of the next national lockdown, we realised it was not meant to be…

I swiftly made a video announcement in my little girl’s bedroom about how schools can use Uno as a useful tool for remote learning, particularly during Safer Internet Week. THANK GOODNESS some of the first Uno content we set out to film was our KS1 & KS2 Online Safety videos! We also had another breakthrough – we added a ‘share’ button to our videos. Suddenly, Uno took on a whole new lease of life…

This share button enabled teachers to send our videos to their pupils, for them watch safely from home. Crucially, children didn’t have to create a login or sign in to Uno (which was designed for teachers to use) to access their online learning. We started sending out ‘Safer Internet Week 2021 @ Home’ emails and before long we were swamped with enquiries! My Uno demo calendar had never been so booked up! Many schools that initially came to purchase the Online Safety videos then went on to sign up for a whole year’s subscription. This was it – things were finally starting to happen for Uno.

At this point I felt proud. Keeping children healthy, happy and safe online had always been part of One Day’s ethos. Even when children were not ‘in school’ and we were unable to deliver our traditional Online Safety workshops, we could still reach pupils and make a difference.

Shortly after Safer Internet Week, the world received a new announcement from Mr Johnson. Finally, the date we’d been waiting for. All primary schools set to return on Monday 8th March…

Please stay tuned for part 3 of this series. Catch up on part 1 here

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