A Stratford maths tutor has completely transformed her business due to the coronavirus pandemic by moving teaching sessions online, in a move which could see her work internationally in the future.
Steph Madden, of Testing Times Maths Limited, offers tutoring services to students with maths difficulties, maths anxiety and those with the learning disorder dyscalculia, which causes difficulties in comprehending arithmetic.
The specialist maths practitioner was forced to stop holding face-to-face sessions in schools and at her home following the outbreak of Covid-19, but has diversified in a bid to keep her business running and now holds tutoring sessions through Skype, including continuing her volunteer work with students from low-income and refugee families.
Steph is also receiving support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, forming part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme. It is also funded by Warwickshire County Council and the district & borough councils.
Steph received support to develop her wider business plan, which includes releasing a workbook to help to teach core number sense – something which could also now happen sooner than planned.
Steph said: “My business has always been face-to-face and I’ve never really had an interest in technology, but I faced losing all of my students overnight so I knew I needed to take action.
“My tutoring sessions are very multisensory so I was unsure how well they would be delivered online, but they have actually translated beautifully and we are still able to do all of the activities we normally would.
“I teach people from the age of seven right to adults, but my current students are all aged between seven and 14 so this kind of technology suits them perfectly. Using video calls means I am also still able to speak to all of the parents.
“Some of my students travel from miles away to attend tutoring, so it may be that they choose to continue their sessions online when the lockdown period is over.
“There is also a high demand for dyscalculia tutors internationally, so delivering sessions online could open a huge number of doors for me in the future.”
Steph added: “Having the backing of the Chamber has given me the confidence to maintain my business goals and also bring forward some of my ideas quicker than I would have been able to with their help.
“Despite working on my own, having that support means I do not feel isolated and I have someone to email or call with concerns or questions, or just a reassuring chat.
“The Chamber has also supported me in developing my business plan, showing me the steps I need to take to get my workbook to market and advising on the potential funding options available.
“A meeting I was due to have with Chamber took place online and we discussed how I can use this time at home as an opportunity to accelerate my plans, such as by working remotely with my extremely talented graphic designer Zoë Bread, and potentially get the book and other resources to market sooner than expected.”
Keely Hancox, Operations Manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is fantastic to see how Steph has diversified her business to enable her to continue offering tutoring services through an online platform.
“Although it is a difficult time for some businesses, we are finding a lot of companies using this time to diversify and bring forward growth plans that originally they may have delayed, all of which can open up market opportunities.
“Examples such as this, show the benefits of accessing support and advice and we would reach out to SMEs, and new start businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire to get in touch.”
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