Rachel Vecht always wanted to be a teacher and doing work experience in a school at 15 confirmed that. After her degree, she spent several years teaching in schools, but after having children she didn’t want to go back part time. So she started doing courses for parents and eventually set up her own business, Educating Matters, which allows her to keep teaching but in a more flexible way.
Rachel had taught full time for seven years in fairly challenging inner city London schools followed by several years teaching in the private sector before she got pregnant with her first son.
During the pregnancy, parents were asking her how they could help their children to learn to read. She had run curriculum evenings for parents at school on how schools teach literacy and maths and how parents could support their children so she wrote a course and delivered it to groups of parents from her home, advertising in the local nursery. Before her son was one she was pregnant with her next child. She loved teaching, but she didn’t want to go back and do it part time. “I was very passionate. I felt I could not put everything I wanted into it and be with my own children,” she says. Instead she did one to one tuition and seminars alongside her parent sessions.
“I thought what I was telling parents was obvious stuff, but one parent – an investment banker – said it was very useful and invited me to come to his office,” she says. Gradually she started approaching companies, particularly the big banks. She started giving sessions to parents in the workplace and extended them to maths and helping parents who had recently moved to the UK to understand the education system.
She still has many of her original clients. Some people started with her when their children were two or three and they are now taking their GCSE options. Over the years she has had four children which has meant she has been able to add the practical experience of being a parent to her teaching skills. “I understand the pressures working parents are facing, how time with their children is precious and how if you are busy you don’t have the time to build a network at the school gates with other parents so you might not realise that the concerns you have are normal,” she says.
Alongside the sessions she does a lot of mentoring and lecturing to student teachers and goes into schools often so she keeps up to date with the education system. “It’s more flexible than full-time teaching and I get a great deal of job satisfaction as I feel I am helping children through their parents,” says Rachel.
When her children were young she reserved Tuesdays and Wednesdays for business sessions when she had childcare cover and made phone calls in the evenings when they were asleep. Now aged 14, 12, eight and five, two of her children are at primary school and two at secondary school which frees her time up more and means she can travel more into the City. She runs a parenting course on Mondays in her home, covering issues ranging from sibling rivalry, setting boundaries for children and bringing up resilient children to self esteem and behavioural issues. Each week she focuses on a different topic. She also does telephone consultations and is working on a new project on children’s books.
Over the years more and more parenting services have come on the market, but Rachel says what she offers is different because of her teaching experience and her focus on education. She would like to do more and has taken on two members of staff to help her out in the last few years, mainly with selling what she does so she can focus more on writing her material. She says: “The feedback I get is what keeps me going. Parents say it makes such a big difference to them.”