Principal in the spotlight – Rachel Bradshaw
Rachel Bradshaw has been a Little Voices Principal since 2015. Here, she shares with us what led her to Little Voices, how she manages to juggle being a business owner with a busy family life, and who inspires her.
Tell us a little bit about your background
I was born into a musical family: music, and in particular musical theatre, was always on in the car when we were on our way to school! From playing the recorder at junior school, to singing in productions, learning to play the piano and the tenor horn, and trying my hand at other instruments along the way, music has always been a constant strand that’s run through every area of my life.
What led you to becoming a Little Voices principal?
I stepped down from my role as Deputy Head of 6th Form when my daughter was born 11 years ago, and instead, took a part-time role as a teacher at an Independent School. Although I loved being a mum, I missed a challenge, and felt something in my life was missing. One of my friends at work knew how much I loved the performing arts, as well as my background qualifications. And so, when she asked me to train as a LAMDA tutor to help tutor children at the school, I jumped at the chance!
I was nervous at first, but absolutely loved it. Then soon after, I met another friend who told me that the Little Voices franchise in Preston, Leyland and Chorley was up for sale, and how it would be perfect for me. I met with Jane, and let’s just say the rest is history. I offered the full asking price for the franchise and can honestly say that I haven’t looked back!
What do you love about your role as principal at Little Voices?
So many things! I love working with our pupils and seeing them coming running into the studio each week excited to see their friends. I love seeing children who go from being terrified at their free trial lessons, to volunteering for a solo, or to read the main parts in a new script, just a few weeks later as their confidence has grown so much in such a short space of time. I love watching my tutors deliver an amazing lesson, and a pupil taking the time to thank them, or give them a cuddle as they leave the studio because they enjoyed it so much.
I love receiving an email from a parent telling me how their child has received an award at school because they’ve found the confidence to start putting their hand up in class, thanks to their Little Voices lessons.
What are your top 3 tips for balancing being a business owner with a busy family life?
Firstly, it’s important to carve out regular family time. So for me, Friday night to Sunday night is devoted to spending time together as a family, and I make sure I plan activities so we all have things to look forward to. That way, while my children may not see much of me during the week, they always know they’ll have my undivided attention all weekend and we’ll be together as a family doing something fun!
Secondly, I believe good organisation is essential to keeping on track. So at the end of each day, I write a to-do list of everything I need to do the following day – and I stick to it!
And thirdly, make sure you surround yourself with a good team. Little Voices Preston isn’t just me – it’s a whole team effort. From my husband, without whom I simply wouldn’t be able to do what I do, to my tutors, who are so reliable, I know that I can depend on everyone to play their part. Everyone knows the high expectations that I have for Little Voices, so we all work together as a team to make sure we are the best we can be.
How did you navigate your way through the pandemic successfully?
The pandemic was scary as all 9 venues I was teaching out of said that they weren’t planning on resuming any classes after Lockdown. Which meant I had to decide whether to get my own premises, or not do anything and risk losing everything I had worked so hard for. So after spending hours searching for the right premises, I eventually found our happy place – our own Little Voices studio in Hoghton, which opened in September 2021. This, combined with our successful online programme, meant that we not only retained all our current pupils, but we also even gained new ones!
What, or who, inspires you?
I’m inspired all the time by others who are achieving in different ways. From famous business people earning millions, to my good friend who has beaten cancer and stayed strong along the way. Inspiration and life lessons come to me all the time. I love learning, and try to read a lot, too.
Tell us about the children that you teach – what do you find they benefit from the most from what you offer at Little Voices?
Our lessons have so many benefits – from building confidence to developing valuable life skills, such as improved diction, good eye contact, and the ability to handle anxiety and nerves. And undoubtedly, our small class sizes also help children make friends – it’s so lovely to see them helping and encouraging one another as those friendships blossom.
If Rachel’s story has inspired you, and you’d like to explore owning and running your own performing arts franchise in your area, please just get in touch.