As the lockdown began, Role Models had to make rapid changes to continue to bring their life skills courses to children around the world. Fortunately, the company succeeded in moving its resilience and growth mindset-based classes online – and they have seen major growth in applications.
For founder and managing director Hugo Shephard, this has been a significant step forward in the business’ ultimate goal of teaching one million children how to “communicate well, collaborate effectively, think critically, solve problems creatively and lead brilliantly, so that they can shape their future and those around them.”
On Role Models’ courses, children learn useful life skills that will form a robust foundation for all the learning that lies ahead. Since its founding in late 2013, the company has pioneered the development of several courses to set children up with the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century. Role Models has partners in ten countries around the world, and it works closely with several schools here in the UK.
Unsurprisingly, courses which emphasise mental health and wellbeing are even more popular than usual at the moment. The most popular course among 8 to 11-year-olds is Resilience, while among 5 to 7-year-olds it is Brilliant Me and My Feelings. “I think the current situation has accentuated this even further,” adds Hugo.
Taking children’s courses online
Role Models has always offered in-person courses for children, but on 30 March, the business moved entirely online. Since then, they have been delivering between three and six five-day courses every week. Despite the suddenness of the move, it has been relatively smooth: The company was already offering online courses, so the framework for delivering classes online was already in place.
Parents are involved from the start and help set up their children on Zoom – although in many cases, says Hugo, the children are better than the parents on computers – and they’re good to go! Sessions are spent with an eponymous ‘Role Model’ guiding the way. At the end of the course, children receive additional content such as an online videos to continue reinforcing the lessons they have learnt.
Succeeding in uncertain times
“There’s certainly been a huge uplift in the online courses during the lockdown, which has been tremendously encouraging,” says Hugo. Since 30 March, Role Models has run online sessions with 30 times more children than they did across all of 2019. Although the number of children taking courses online has significantly increased, the business hasn’t wavered in its commitment to quality – and parents have noticed. “We were having a dreadful day at home-school, and the session really lifted [my son’s] spirits,” one UK parent wrote.
Catering to children around the world, the organisation is also offering free places on its online courses to the children of NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic, and free trials to everyone. In the face of adversity, Role Models’ adaptability and pragmatism have enabled them to continue operating, and the positive educational experiences they offer are in huge demand. According to Hugo, the business’ success in upscaling comes down to its “incredibly committed, adaptable and resilient team.”
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