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The Story of Ely Classrooms: A Message from the Founder

After a long career of teaching and management in the independent sector, I conceived the idea of Ely Classrooms in 2021 after leaving my management position at Stowe School and moving back to the Ely area, where I had lived briefly 20 years ago and absolutely loved.

What struck me at the time, after two years of centre and teacher assessment, was that our pupils at Stowe, a top end boarding school, really didn’t suffer much loss of learning at all. The social isolation was difficult of course, and some found online learning to be challenging, but all in all, most pupils ended up academically in much the same positions that they would have been in anyway. That’s because we got up to speed with online learning very quickly, had fantastic IT backup and ongoing training and as a head of department, I put the same effort into ensuring quality content and delivery as I did when we were in school. That pattern seemed to be repeated across the independent sector.

In the meantime, the news was full of stories of pupils missing substantial content and the situation in the state sector seemed to be very different. I have many colleagues and friends who teach in state schools and they confirmed that they faced different challenges in delivering their courses online.

The difference is plain: in the independent sector we had fee paying parents and money to spend on training and resources, as well as small classes which could be much more easily managed in online classrooms. We were also able to maintain the pastoral tutoring so the pupils always had a teacher they could speak to about any struggles they were facing.

Like many teachers who take early retirement, the obvious way to continue to earn was through tutoring, but I wanted to go beyond my subject and think about education more holistically. In 2021, with both children now at university, I made the decision to move back to the Ely area, a place which held fond memories for me. After years working in independent schools, I felt it was time to give something back. Using the skills and knowledge that I acquired during my years of teaching and management, I decided that I wanted to create a tuition service that would make the kinds of opportunities offered in independent schools available at affordable prices.

That’s how Ely Classrooms was conceived. It couldn’t be born until I found premises because the vision is based on the dynamics of small group lessons. I’m so excited to have taken over Michelle’s fantastic beauty shop at the village crossroads  – a fitting metaphor as we are poised at a once in a generation crossroads in education.

Thank you for all your support so far: I’ve loved hearing your thoughts and ideas! Do keep them coming and send me an email if you have any questions or suggestions as we build this up together.

Allison Puranik
allison@elyclassrooms.co.uk

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