When facing redundancy friends of 9 years Sharon Edwards and Shelley Garrett saw it as an opportunity. Using their wealth of experience in the field of educational consultancy they set up ‘Quality First Training & Consultancy’ in Stockport and haven’t looked back.

Sharon said “When the government cuts came, Manchester was hit harder than anyone anticipated. Myself and colleagues within the field of education were offered severance packages. It was very daunting the thought of giving up a well-paid job, but the offer of the severance was both a push and a cushion at the same time. The opportunity to work for ourselves was scary and exciting in equal measures.”

Sharon, Shelley and other colleagues who were also facing redundancy and considering self-employment decided to share their contact details so as not to lose touch. Before they knew it they had created their own network of support for their fledgling businesses. Meeting the first Wednesday of the month at Metropolitan Pub in Didsbury, the former colleagues share information, offer emotional support to one another and share their wealth of skills and ideas. The group who also keep in contact via email circulation has proven invaluable for support and was the starting point of Sharon and Shelley finding out about the free business support available through The Women’s Organisation.

“The help from The Women’s Organisation was excellent”, said Sharon. “Our business adviser there Lisa was so clear and organised. We hadn’t really understood the need for a business plan really. I suppose we were just of the mind of ‘go out there and start doing’. But putting together the plan with Lisa’s help has really focussed us. We refer back to it constantly to see if we are meeting our targets, and the blurb that took us time to pull together for the plan we now use in our marketing. So it was well worth it.”

Both Sharon and Shelley’s friends and family have been a great support in helping them develop their business. Shelley’s partner offered support with photography for their promotional materials, Sharon’s daughter is helping them all the way from New Zealand to set up their website, Sharon’s brother in law supported them with accountancy advice and Shelley’s 15 month old son has been offering plenty of supportive smiles along the way.

Sharon said of their journey “We were always very resourceful in our previous employment, so I guess that prepared us for self-employment and learning new skills as we go. Having come through redundancy it’s almost like we rose from the ashes. Things are going well so far and the people who have accessed our consultancy services and attended our courses have given us very positive feedback so we are feeling optimistic about the future.”

Quality First Training and Consultancy offers specialist support in behaviour and attendance, emotional health and well-being and coaching. Between them, Shelley and Sharon bring a wealth of experience. Having both started out as classroom teachers then working as Behaviour Needs teachers they were asked to take on the role of Behaviour and Attendance Consultants. They were then able to roll out the national ‘Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning’ programme to Manchester schools, where their work was recognised nationally. With the added bonus of having worked in both primary and secondary education settings they can fully understand and appreciate all aspects of the day to day issues facing local schools and educational organisations. Quality First Services are broken down into 4 key areas:

Quality First Consultancy
Offering schools, academies and settings bespoke consultancy in any area of behaviour and attendance.

Quality First Training
A range of training packages available, e.g. behaviour management, improving attendance, using solution focused approaches, SEAL. These are available for delivery to whole staff or groups during staff meetings, twilights or training days. In addition support can be offered to plan, deliver and evaluate bespoke training events in your workplace and across networks.

Quality First Behaviour Reviews
Behaviour reviews of various lengths, starting from 1 day, are available tailored to the specific focus identified and / or size of your school, academy or setting. A written report will be compiled with recommendations and discussed in detail at a follow up meeting.

Quality First Coaching
Whatever your needs Quality First offer skilled and experienced coaches who can provide professional and personal coaching to support you to develop your capacity to find sustainable solutions to your challenges.

For more information on what Quality First Training and Consultancy can offer visit their website at www.qualityfirst.uk.com or contact them on 07415 705653 or info@qualityfirst.uk.com

And if like Sharon and Shelley you are looking for support to develop your own business then why not contact The Women’s Organisation on 0161 833 8800/0151 706 8111 or info@thewo.org.uk for more information on the FREE support available to women.