As we reflect on this last year, we are proud to see that despite the continuing impact of COVID on our business, we have achieved many terrific outcomes and new learnings.
The effect of COVID and the uncertainty around it was very significant in our first half of the financial year with most face-to-face programs being postponed, cancelled or running with limited numbers. The impact on QELi during what would normally be one of our highest activity periods, saw schools and systems dealing with the quick move to students accessing education from home, staff working from home and social distancing strategies heavily in place. Like many businesses, the operational impact on QELi was also significant, with all staff working from home during this time.
Despite the incredible time required to respond to the waves of COVID in our local and national communities, the team ensured all program delays and postponements were effectively communicated to participants and negotiated with sponsors and key stakeholders. The QELi team continued to grow their learning in the new online space, working hard to prepare products to support our educators during this challenging time. With the ongoing support from our Board, chaired by Professor Donna Pendergast, we were able to be agile and innovative in our response to the environment.
QELi’s resilience and sustainability were tested during this time. It was terrific to see that due to our internal response to COVID, we were able to reduce expenditure and outgoings significantly and with a major increase in program delivery in the second part of this financial year, almost returning to normal, we have significantly minimised the deficit.
During this last year we have demonstrated an increase in gross profit margin, moved key programs online and expanded our delivery options and most importantly saw a continued improvement in our evaluation of impact program scores from an already high position.
As a company, it was fantastic to see that our processes reviewed by the ATO, ACNC and an external body, were very solid and confirm that the QELi Board leadership and work of staff ensures our company is transparent, accountable and we follow appropriate national regulations and policy.
We are continuing to see a strong increase in enquiries for quality programs with high success of acceptance of QELi proposals. Key areas of demand continue to be particularly focused around schools, diocese and regions focusing on middle leadership and instructional leadership for those educators who are lifted from the classroom into systemic type coaching roles such as literacy coaches, pedagogical coaches etc. Working with schools around high-performance teams and groups of principals on systemic leadership are two other areas of significant work. One day masterclasses with targeted skill development are also becoming more popular on topics including leading professional conversations, trust and resilience and wellbeing.
As we move into the 2021-22 financial year, we look forward to continuing the increase of program delivery, the building of connections to stakeholders and partners and possibly recruiting new staff as we hopefully return to our normal size over the next few months.
Once again, I would like to thank the Board, particularly Donna as Chair, for their continued support.
I look forward to working alongside our education colleagues throughout this year.
Chief Executive Officer