Teacher training provider rides out COVID storm by moving online


A Cardiff-based teacher training provider has successfully navigated the challenges of COVID-19 by moving its business from face-to-face to online only.

Dragonfly Training, one of the largest teacher training providers in the UK and internationally, adapted its business model at the start of the pandemic after securing a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan from NatWest.

The funding allowed the business to invest in the technology required to continue delivering its sessions virtually to teachers across the globe.

Before the pandemic, the training provider would deliver face-to-face bespoke sessions, travelling to schools in more than 50 countries covering Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East. But business grinded to halt almost overnight in March 2020, when travel was suspended, and all schools and venues were closed with immediate effect.

Following a significant fall in revenue, Co-Directors Steve Chapman, Mary Chapman and Nadeeke Illeperuma, opted to steer the business in a new direction in an attempt to stay afloat, adapting their existing course provision to be deliverable online.

By swiftly investing in IT infrastructure for its trainers and by leveraging the IT expertise of Mr Illeperuma and his second company Cardiff App Developers, Dragonfly Training was one of the first teacher training companies to offer its services digitally.

To date, Dragonfly Training has delivered more than 400 online sessions.

Nadeeke Illeperuma said: “The funding we received was a lifeline. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have been able to continue operating. We’ve always wanted to offer online sessions, but the pandemic pushed us to make the move. It’s been great as we’ve been able to broaden our customer base, providing training sessions to schools in completely new markets who previously may not have been in a position to access our offering. We’re also able to offer more sessions at different times and in different formats to optimise accessibility for our clients.

“Our carbon footprint has also massively reduced and that’s something we are very keen to continue. Before the pandemic, the business would make around 160 flights each year, but this has been reduced to zero. We know that this new business model is effective, so hopefully we can continue to reduce our air miles even after the pandemic is over.”

Dragonfly Training is now in the process of launching a new website, which has been streamlined and optimised in terms of accessibility and ease of navigation to enable clients to access and book onto their full range of online courses from across the globe.

Andrew Tummon, Relationship Manager at NatWest, said: “We’ve worked with Dragonfly Training for 18 years and have a great relationship with Nadeeke, Steve, Mary and the team. They’ve built a really solid business that performs consistently well. When the pandemic hit, it was understandably a really worrying time for the team and we had a responsibility to ensure we secured the funding and support to help them through the challenging times.”