Way back in 1997, when I was working as a Junior Account Executive for one of only two education marketing agencies in the country , one of my first clients was the charity Dogs Trust. They approached us as they wanted to encourage the next generation to be responsible dog owners, and schools seemed to be a good place to start.
What we did then was known as educational sponsorship; we produced teaching resources and classroom materials on behalf of our clients. We made them relevant to teachers by ensuring they delivered for the curriculum, and we made them work for our clients with creative ways of conveying their messages. The very first resource we produced for Dogs Trust was a History resource called Dogs in War.
Following Dogs in War we created an English resource, using examples of Dogs Trust advertising to look at persuasive texts; a Business Studies resource focused around running a charity and a Citizenship resource all about rights and responsibilities using peer-led learning. Over the years we created resources for primary schools and preschools all the with the aim of creating a ‘continuum of contact’ with young people. We maximised the opportunities for Dogs Trust learning resources to be used in schools with all ages, and therefore pupils exposure to their key messages.
In 2003, we were challenged with coming up with something different. After many hours around the brainstorming table we had one good idea, but we needed an alternative. I decided to throw in an ‘out there’ idea; let’s send a Dogs Trust person into schools to deliver workshops. Little did I know that this one idea would lay the foundation for their hugely successful schools workshop programme. Today they have 33 education officers and youth trainers delivering classroom lessons, assemblies, workshops, events and 1-2-1 experiences across the UK, teaching young people to Be Dog Smart.
This is my 20th year of working with the Dogs Trust education team, and every year their education offering gets more refined and focused in response to the needs of schools and children. Over the past twenty years together we have produced resources, films, posters, certificates, workshop activities, competitions, websites, research, cuddly toys, games, marketing campaigns and much, much more!
The Dogs Trust education programme is one of the longest running programmes in the UK. They have committed to education and invested in their offering to schools year on year, which is why they have been so successful and why they are a brilliant client to work with. Education communications works best when it is planned and nurtured, and I am privileged to have worked on this programme for so long.