GS Mini Academy: Putting our Parents and Carers First

With Mother’s Day approaching this Sunday, we thought it would be great, as a feature of our International Women’s Day support, to show how the challenge that home schooling brought to all parents – be they mum, dad or carers – was alleviated by one of our GS wellbeing initiatives.

Following a suggestion from Partner, Katrina Paget, about setting up a GS teaching resource, our HR team, led by Tina Reid, quickly established a new GS mini Academy, ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week. Ever conscious of the pressure that lockdown and caring responsibilities were having on our immediate people, we were also aware that it was taking its toll on the many children in the wider GS family. 40% of us have children under 18 at home and though we have loved their regular appearance and contributions to Teams meetings, briefings and updates, it was clear that they often needed some focused attention away from mum and dad and something to look forward to at regular points in the week.       

And so was born our ‘Learning with Penny’ sessions with Penny Johnson, a qualified teacher who built and delivered virtual learning modules focused upon physical and mental wellbeing as well as more curriculum-based activity. Up to three sessions a week catered for separate groups of Reception to Y3, where Monday’s ‘Show and Tell’ was a popular highlight and then Y4-6. For curriculum based sessions, the emphasis was upon Science, Art, Geography or History where we could all own up to not having spent quite enough time home schooling. In the physical and well being sessions, a real benefit was giving our children some social interaction and allowing them to make new friends in a completely safe space. 

Time was also spent exploring personal emotions about going back to school and lockdown. One of our children has learning difficulties and reported enjoying learning more than ever, and her confidence over recent weeks has gone from strength to strength. Meanwhile, mums or dads could take a break themselves or catch up on work. As one of our grateful, and slightly less exhausted parents commented: 

My daughter has really enjoyed joining these sessions and getting to know the other children all over the country! It’s been a great help!    

While we are all thrilled that our children have largely returned to school (and yes, there were quite a few wine glasses raised by our challenged parents), we are really pleased that we offered some respite when people seemed to need it most. As Kevin Gordon, CEO stated:

As with many initiatives we have implemented across the last year, GS has proved that listening to good ideas, reacting quickly and having a culture that puts people first has enabled multiple agile solutions. Getting a lot of the smaller, but important, things right has added up to a massive benefit in terms of our people wellbeing and service delivery.

Now, anyone can do the maths on that one.                                        

If you’d like to know more about the GS mini Academy, please contact Tina Read, Head of HR, at

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