A year, a whole year! 365 days ago today, Best in Class was officially born. None of us can quite believe it, and this year feels simultaneously like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye, but also like we can never imagine not being together in our own office, taking the Bradford Education Recruitment game by storm.
We have spent this week in disbelief, feeling nostalgic and reminiscent of Best in Class’ first year. We wanted to share some of those memories with you, but there were far too many (some not for public consumption) to be able to list here. So instead, we decided to take you through our year, month by month, and share how special this time has been, and how far Best in Class has come with a whole lot of love and hard work.
Best in Class was born in September of 2021, when the company consisted of only two employees, our wonderful directors, Sophie and Scott. Because little old me didn’t show up until January, I took the liberty of grilling them to find out what Best in Class was like in the early days.
They both recalled with great fondness the office. A giant wooden table in the middle, whiteboards that rested on the floor, and two hand-me-down laptops. They say great things come from small beginnings, and what a small office it was to begin in.
But mostly they remember the excitement, the ‘pinch me’ moment of answering the phone for the first time with, ‘Best in Class’, and the hilarious questions of, ‘where on earth do we start?’. Luckily for all of us, where they started was a pretty solid foundation, and it laid path for everything that came next, starting with October.
By October, Sophie and Scott were getting a little more into the swing of things. They’d registered the business and were getting systems in place to make compliance easier (and speaking as our compliance administrator – it really paid off!)
But things were not slow by any means, in fact, we hit a Best in Class personal best, of registering 13 candidates in a day, old school style. In and out like a revolving door, lining up and scanning documents, and getting them all uploaded. I imagine they both slept well that evening. But with candidates ready and raring to go, it was time to start booking days! This came in November.
The first days booked in – the very basis for Education Recruitment. The all shining, glittering, golden medal, called days. From one of their primary schools right here in Bradford, was Best in Class’ first booking. Only two months in, Best in Class was already going from strength to strength, registering more candidates and making more contacts in schools, and it’s a trend that we’re happy to still be following.
One of the proudest moments that both Scott and Sophie pointed to, was a candidate they had in November, who came to us having fallen a little bit out of love with teaching. They had been let down by several agencies and felt disheartened by the whole system. Not only did they have a successful registration with us, but Sophie and Scott got to watch as they supported someone through a career that they had almost given up on. It’s those special moments that are really a gift.
Where better to go to from gifts, than to the run up to Christmas? This was the last month that Sophie and Scott were the only Best in Class employees, because on the 17th of December (on a rainy Friday morning), they interviewed me – hi! In a cardigan that my roommate promised would make me look smart (doubtful, in hindsight), I rocked up to find Sophie and Scott still sitting around the giant table, still working tirelessly from whiteboards on the floor.
Halfway through the interview, our partner, Sharaz came in, stole the whiteboard, and while we chatted about their vision for the company, he rubbed off all of their information about their clients and candidates. I wasn’t here when they realised this, but I imagine it involved a head-in-hands moment when they did.
Aside from me, Sophie and Scott were incredibly hard at work. On the run up to their January drive, the days reached 12 hours long, and all they seemed to find time to eat was porridge (pots upon pots upon pots of porridge). By the end of the school term, both of them had been forced to take a quick trip down to ASDA to buy new trousers, as their old ones were now too big.
But it all paid off when they smashed their January target. After a determined January drive, Scott and Sophie collapsed into a tired hug, and cried, and promised not to see each other again until they’d had a decent rest over Christmas.
Well rested and raring to go, January kicked off with a bang. A big month for Best in Class (and for me too!), with the arrival of their first recruit. I started as our Candidate and Compliance Administrator and had an amazing time learning the process of compliance and getting to spruce up our marketing with fun job adverts, education news, and blog posts, just like this one! I can’t believe that it’s been almost 9 months since I wrote my first blog about starting my brand-new job.
On my first day, I quite quickly realised that I had made one terrible mistake – I had read Best in Class’ first post on their website, and assumed that Scott and Sophie were married (based partly on my skim-reading, and partly on Sophie’s lack of commas), and I thank my lucky stars to this day that I didn’t mention this in my interview. I realised, as soon as Sophie mentioned her husband, and Scott told me about his children, that I had definitely got my wires crossed.
All three of us look back and don’t know where the time went, and couldn’t have predicted where we’d be today. But we’re skipping too far ahead, because next came February.
Having settled into the swing of February in recruitment, and almost gotten a hand on compliance, February was a whirlwind of asking the same question a hundred times, silly little games to get to know each other, clearing more candidates and booking more days! I was introduced some of our favourite traditions, breakfast sandwiches on a Friday morning, and Scott’s greatest invention (besides Best in Class), Whoeee?, a game which, to this day, I still think he needs to patent and sell because of how much fun it is.
On the same day that I cleared my first ever candidate by myself, we had a special addition to our office; a water feature. It was a water feature that wasn’t exactly intentional, but rather an unfortunate side effect of Storm Eunice, and a crack in our ceiling. Mid-celebration about my compliance victory, I was rudely interrupted by a stream of water pouring down onto us while we worked.
Cold and damp, but with still high spirits, we powered through February to March, which hopefully held better weather for us.
March was our company personal best for placing candidates, and only reminded us how fast Best in Class was growing, and how much all of our hard work was coming back to us. We signed a huge Academies Trust deal, and celebrated every small victory where we could.
This month also introduced my least favourite game; tea or coffee. The game revolved around trying to get each other to say ‘tea’ or ‘coffee’, and if we succeeded, the bitter loser had to go make everyone a brew. We lived on edge, constantly suspicious of each other and never wanting to engage in conversation for fear of being caught (which I have to admit, I almost always was). I’ve been told I’m not allowed to divulge any of our favourite victories, because Ciara has just been introduced to the game, and we don’t want to waste our material, but I’ll pass along one.
Scott added a new candidate to the system, completely pulled from thin air, and named him Kofey Jonah. You can see where this is going, but what you can’t see, is the deep shade of fury red that Sophie turned when she realised the trap she’d walked into.
March was also full of anticipation. On the whiteboards (which were now finally nailed onto the walls!), we had a daily countdown. To what, you ask? A huge milestone for the company, a new colleague, a new roof? All good guesses, but no. It was our countdown for Sophie’s birthday, which wasn’t until April, but was discussed daily in preparation. As exciting as it was, it served to highlight to us just how quickly time was passing, we would blink and the countdown had gone from 14 days, to 2 and no one knew how, but April was here.
After a long, long countdown, Sophie’s birthday finally arrived. We spent the day before blowing up balloons, hanging streamers and ordering cakes, and luckily, she had the best day and all of our efforts and excitement really paid off.
But there was lots to celebrate in April, because we were also graced by the wonderful and irreplaceable presence of Lance! Lance joined us as a Recruitment Consultant to support both Scott and Sophie with Primary and Secondary. Within a day, it was hard to imagine him ever not being there, and he well and truly shook up our dynamic and regularly had us all in stitches.
He was thrown into the deep end, and swam through with ease, at the Newly Qualified Teacher day at Leeds Trinity University. A moment of disbelief hit Scott, when we attended the fair, and people knew our name, and knew who we were. Luckily the fame hasn’t gone to his head just yet, but armed with branded water bottles and lots and lots and lots of cupcakes, we got to go and speak to candidates and spread the word about ourselves.
I was quite happy when there were a few cupcakes left over by the end of the day, and I was finally allowed to steal one from the box.
May was a huge month for us, as we moved into our very own office. We moved a few minutes down the road into our own space, and loved it. On a very fond afternoon, we received our Best in Class sign, which needed piecing together. We all worked together to align the stencil, peel off the sticky-tape, and place each individual letter. Being 5 foot and considerably shorter than the wall, I was able to place the ‘t’ in Education Recruitment with a little bit of help. We were all so proud, not only of our handiwork, but of how far we’d come already.
With more room and fewer neighbours, our music gradually got louder and we were regularly dancing around the office and singing along. Thus began a trend of Sophie choosing a favourite song for the week, and playing it so often that (whether we liked it or not), we all knew the words within a day. Some of her standouts for the summer have been Stay the Night, Shake my Booty, If it Makes You Happy, Move Your Body and Undo my Heart. Some days felt more like Ibiza that Cottingley, but there was never a dull moment.
June started our September drive, and kicked everything up a notch. Candidates and days only grew and we were (and still are!) optimistic about the prospects for the rest of the year. To keep things fun, our targets were rewarded with a range of prizes from jars (featuring salad cream, new water bottles, all the way up to air fryers!), and if you missed a target, you had to spin a wheel of disgusting jellybeans. Speaking from first-hand experience, the worst one was the dog food.
But June was also a lot of fun. We spent one of our evenings in a friendly, but still very competitive bowling tournament against our friends over at Be Assured Law, followed by a delicious curry afterwards.
We also met Jeffrey for the first time. Jeffrey is the beautiful dog from the next-door office, who army crawls around the floor in his bow tie with a toothy grin, and always brightens our day. On busy days, all he needed to do was pop his head around the door, and we’d be spurred on for another good few hours.
The end of term and the start of summer also signaled the end of our first Best in Class September drive, and after all of the hard work we had all put in, we were ready for a celebration. On the final day, we all went for a work meal and while we enjoyed delicious food and cocktails, a couple on the table beside us got engaged – coincidentally just after Sophie had complained she’d never seen anyone get engaged, and then promptly disappeared to the toilet. Safe to say, she was a little skeptical of our story when she came back.
July gave us a minute to catch ourselves back up, and celebrate our efforts. One lunchtime on a particularly sunny day (which seems hard to remember now, through the clouds), Sophie, Lance and I spend our lunch hour lounging around on picnic benches outside and eating our body weight in pizza. Sophie mum-ed us all and insisted on sun cream and sunglasses to protect ourselves, but given the rising temperatures, she probably saved us a bad case of sunburn!
August followed in the July heatwave, and we spent the boiling days in the office laughing and joking around, playing Whoeee?, and creating our vision boards for the year. Getting to talk about our hopes for the future, and knowing that we have the support to get there was a lot of fun, and they’re still proudly displayed in our office as a reminder of all of the positive things coming our way next year.
August also featured Ciara! Starting as a Primary and SEND Consultant, Ciara joined us and had caused a controversy in the office before she even arrived. Having a sister-in-law with the name Ciara, I was sure I was pronouncing it correctly, but Sophie was equally sure that it was Key-ara. Lance suggested Cay-ra and eventually, we texted her to voice message it over and end our war. We now know it’s Ciara, like Keira Knightley, but Sophie will still occasionally whip out Key-ara out of nowhere. She’s trying.
Which brings us all the way back around the September! Even just going through our favourite memories of the year has been so staggering, and we’re all sat wondering if we’ll ever feel like a whole year has passed us by. Before we can blink, it’ll be 2 years, and it makes my head spin to think about 5, or even 10.
We also want to extend a huge thanks to everyone who has supported Best in Class through this year, all of our wonderful candidates and clients, and to everyone who has helped to get us to this point. You enable us to do a job that we love, and we’re endlessly grateful for it. Thank you guys so much!
I know I speak for Lance, Ciara and myself when I say that we can’t extend our thanks to Sophie and Scott enough, for their constant and unwavering optimism and support. From little gifts to celebrate small victories, to every Friday listing the things that we’re grateful for (and when Sophie can get everyone to agree, listing our favourite things about each other), work never feels like work, and instead always feel like you’re crossing off your to-do list next to some of the greatest friends, who only ever want you to succeed.
I’m sure the level of pride that they feel in the business (and hopefully us!) is immeasurable, but we feel equally as astounded by the not only successful, but supportive company that they’ve been able to build in only one year.
So, here’s to another year of music quizzes, lunches around a table that’s able to topple, passive aggressive coughing for tea runs, inappropriate games of hangman, Lance always pushing the boundaries with his jokes, Ciara’s sneaky one-liners that completely catch us off guard, and me always tripping over my own feet on a morning. Here’s to more of Scott’s dancing and his stories, and Sophie’s infectious laugh and outrageous facts (don’t ever ask her about dolphins…)
Hey guys, here’s to us!
Happy first year to Best in Class, and cheers to many more!