Today is our birthday! It’s been 10 years since the launch of Teacher’s Pet in April 2010, back when ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’ was number one and Kick-Ass was the film of choice!
A lot has happened since then, so our Founders Christina and Jay Loftus have taken a little time to reflect on some of our highlights and achievements from the last 10 years. Thank you to all our members for being part of the journey so far!
Christina and Jay, what would you say have been the top 10 achievements and highlights from the last 10 years of Teacher’s Pet?
1. An idea was born.
“It’s hard to believe now, but Teacher’s Pet was never meant to be a business. It started out as an idea for a simple way Christina could share the resources she had been making for a Reception class, with the fellow teachers in her school. But I decided to give it a name, a URL and a Facebook page, to see if other teachers might find it useful too.
4 months later, we’d had 30,000 download of Christina’s very small collection of 177 resources and it was apparent that Teacher’s Pet was going to be more than just a hobby for both of us. There was a clear need for fresh and inspirational classroom content and we were excited to step up to the challenge.” – Jay
2. Teacher’s Pet becomes a full-time business.
“After 12 months of successfully running our free displays website, it was quite clear that Teacher’s Pet was now a full-time responsibility for me. It was time to step away from teachin altogether and focus on this newly found passion.
We launched our activities website 1 year after launching our free displays website, which allowed us to add a subscription model to more premium content, which would provide me with an income so that I could commit myself to Teacher’s Pet full time and diversify our ever-growing collection of resources, to introduce games and activities, which was something we had not done before, and I was incredibly excited to do!
It was also a very nervous time for me as I had now given up a full-time career and a steady salary for something that up to this point hadn’t produced any money. It was a big sacrifice but I knew in my gut that Teacher’s Pet would look after us if we could just take that leap.
We ran a pre-launch offer to join the site and the subscriptions flooded in. It was such a blessing to see our loyal members now supporting Teacher’s Pet financially and trusting us to produce great new content, to further support them in the classroom.”
3. Hitting 1 million downloads.
“Less than 2 years after we launched. I still remember the moment it happened. We were on a shopping trip in Birmingham. We knew we would hit it at some point that day so we were checking our phones regularly.
We were stood in the middle of Birmingham City Centre high street when it happened and probably scared a lot of shoppers that day with our screaming! It was a great moment, one I will never forget.
Later, we celebrated with a visit to our favourite Italian restaurant. A truly wonderful day.
Today, we are fast approaching 12 million downloads of our content, it doesn’t quite feel real sometimes – something that started out a hobby has ended up supporting teachers and their classrooms around the world.”
4. Hitting the top 10 in the apps store and winning 2 Best App Ever Awards with What Time is it Mr. Wolf?
“I’d been wanting to get into apps for some time, it’s not something I’d had experience with at that point but I’m the type of person that once I get something into my head, I don’t stop until it’s finished… I’d already created a game called What Time is it Mr. Wolf? but had done nothing with it, and I knew he would make a brilliant time telling app. So, after 3 days of burning the candle at both ends, I’d produced my very first iPad app, submitted it to Apple and within the first 2 weeks, he had reached Number 2 in the Top Educational iPad apps and remained in the top 10 for some time! It was an incredible feeling. Later that year (2012) we were invited to the Best App Ever Awards in Barcelona but we didn’t go as we assumed we had no chance, as we were up against the likes of Minecraft … but … WE WON! We couldn’t believe it. He won Best Under 9s Kids Game and 2nd in Best Educational Game.
It’s an exciting time for me now really, as we are finally beginning to grow our team. I’ve got some big plans for this year and next year to bring back our award-winning Mr. Wolf with lots of cool new games and features and build an apps team, to start producing even more good quality teaching games and apps that you can use in the classroom and the kids can enjoy using at home. I cannot tell you how excited I am to get started”.
5. Visiting the Education Show
During our journey with Teacher’s Pet we have been incredibly lucky to work with some fantastic companies and individuals and for a time we were partnered with the company Fellowes – they produce the famous bankers’ boxes and a teacher’s best friend – the trusty laminator.In 2013, they invited us along to share their stand at the Education Show and looking back, I’m not quite sure they knew just quite what they were letting themselves in for… haha!
Within 5 minutes of the stand being open, we were flooded with teachers and trainee teachers, all desperate to get their hands on Teacher’s Pet goodies and try out all the laminators on offer… and the chaos didn’t let up for the entire 4 days that we were there.
It was a dream come true for me. I’d always loved my visits to the Education Show as a trainee and as a teacher and it was wonderful to finally be face to face with lots of our members, as well as introducing ourselves to new people that had never heard of us before.
I have so many great memories from those 4 days and I’m really hoping that we can attend BETT next year, to show people all the great things we’ve been working on behind the scenes – watch this space!”.
6. Let the Christmas Advent Begin.
Don’t you just love it when a cool idea comes out of nowhere and somehow becomes one of the best things that you ever did? Well, that’s what it is like for us and our very first Christmas Advent Calendar.
Christina was visiting a friend in Germany around mid-November and had seen all these beautiful wooden advent boxes everywhere. She popped me a message saying how great it would be if teachers could open an advent door on our website and download something different every day. I thought it was a great idea! And me being me, I worked pretty much 3 days straight to get the page built and the functionality finished.
Christina came back from Germany and did all the illustrations for it and the rest is history.
That was back in 2013… fast-forward to 2020 and our advent is pretty much on every Teacher’s Pet member’s mind come Christmas time.
Christina has come up with some amazing themes over the years including I’m Santa Get Me Out Of Here and The Great Christmas Bake-off, to name a few.
Christmas 2019 saw a whole new advent calendar be born, with the flexibility of our new website, we are able to do so much more with our advent calendar and for the first time ever, the children could get involved as well. We launched our Christmas Around the World advent calendar in December 2019, which transported children to a new destination every day, to show them how they celebrate Christmas. It went down an absolute storm and we already have this year’s theme planned… though I can’t give away any secrets otherwise I will be in BIG TROUBLE with Kevin. Haha!”.
7. Relaunching with our brand new website.
Back in 2010 when Teacher’s Pet was first born, I was primarily a Flash Web Designer and over the years I never had the time or the opportunity to try out new ways of web building. Sadly, over the years, Flash was becoming less and less prevalent on the web, despite once being the platform of choice. This meant our websites were gradually becoming inaccessible for a lot of our members and it was a frustrating time for me as I knew I wanted to rebuild the sites, I just needed time.
Christina had already begun work on a new website back in February 19 and in May 19, I took the jump, quit my full-time job and came on board with Teacher’s Pet full time instead, to complete the new website and to help get TPet to where we both wanted it to be. It was a risk and a stressful time for both of us, with a lot of sacrifices made, but looking back, it was the best decision we have ever made and I am so glad that we took that leap.
On the 18th August 2019 (after months of long days and late nights), we deleted the 7 Teacher’s Pet websites that we had built up over the years and launched with 1 brand new one. It went down a storm!
We were now in front of thousands of more teachers than we had ever been before, with a fully accessible website and all our content finally back under 1 roof.
We are now 8 months into our new website and have just over 220,000 active members, with around 2-800 new members joining us each day.
The site is by no means finished. I foresee it will always have fresh pages, functionality and cosmetic changes, but I am incredibly proud of what Christina and I have built together. I look forward to watching the website evolve over the years to come”.
8. Hiring our very first members of staff and getting our own office space!
“So, it finally happened! After 9 years of working from home, we rented our very first office space in September 2019 and advertised our first role of Creative Office Assistant. In less than 24 hours we received over 100 applications and it was clear to us that the people in the local area were crying out for a company that was willing to take people on without the skills necessary, train them up and give them an opportunity to shine.
That’s where we met Kev, and after joining us in October 2019 it became pretty obvious that he was capable of so much more.
After a few short weeks, he was helping me produce educational resources for the website, running our social media pretty much single-handedly and came up with the amazing concepts for Buddy Bots and Wellbeing Wednesday (more on that in the next highlight).
I cannot even express how proud I am to be able to hire fellow creatives in Stoke-On-Trent. I am Stoke born and bred. I love this city and despite all the bad press it gets, it is actually one of the friendliest and most creative cities I have ever lived in.
I have huge goals for the next 3-5 years for Teacher’s Pet, one of which is for us to become one of the biggest creative hires in the city.
Our goal for the end of 2020 is to finish with 10 members of staff. Josh has just joined our team and we have 2 staff lined up to join us in August. I’m also excited to finally get some teaching staff working with us full time at TPet HQ. I’m so buzzed for the future. We have barely scratched the surface of what we want to do and produce to support teachers in the classroom. It will be great to finally put into action, all these ideas I have been carrying around for the last 9 years”.
9. Meet the Buddy Bots and Meditate with Wellbeing-Wednesday
“One thing that has been fantastic this year, is to finally let loose with some creative projects again. After being bogged down with website rebuilding, mundane uploading of content and other day to day tasks, it was great to get stuck into the likes of Buddy Bots and Wellbeing Wednesday (being just 2 of the big projects we have launched this year).
It has reminded me of just how creative we can be, even under pressure, how well we complement each other as a team, all with our different strengths, and how much teachers are always crying out for new ways to approach tricky subjects and have fresh ideas for those concepts that have been around for some time, but have gone stale.
I’m excited to see what new projects we launch this year and next, as the team grows and the creative minds in the room have a chance to shine”.
10. A partnership in the works…
“This one is a little bit secret and possibly one of the biggest highlights of Teacher’s Pets’ 10 years. I wish I could go into detail here but I would get into a lot of trouble.
All I will say for now is that it is a very exciting time for us that will see Teacher’s Pet reach more schools than ever before and help grow our team to the size it needs to be, so we can start producing the content that we know teachers are crying out for.
So for now, watch this space!
I’d also like to finish off this meaty question time with a thank you. A thank you to all the hundreds of thousands of teachers, TAs, parents, schools, headteachers and other school staff that have supported us over the last 10 years.
Without you, none of what we do would be possible!
I hope this has given you a little bit of insight into Teacher’s Pet, the people behind it and how passionate we are about what we do, about supporting you, about helping to bring your teaching to life and give you back that time with family that you so deserve.”
If you’ve stayed the course and read this entire interview – well done!
If you haven’t already, make sure you drop by our fantastic 10th Birthday Competition, where we are giving £1000 worth of prizes to one lucky winner!