Northumberland education group looks east for next stage of growth strategy

Published: 6 September 2022

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By North East Fund

National Learning Group

An ambitious Northumberland-headquartered education consultancy is looking to make its mark in the Far East after securing a second six-figure investment from the North East Fund.

National Learning Group offers educational support and tutoring services for learners of all ages which are delivered remotely by a fast-expanding network of around 150 classroom-experienced teachers with the backing of its growing Prudhoe head office team.

The business, which has seen its turnover grow by more than 600% over the last year alone, facilitates one-to-one Maths and English tuition in the UK for young people from Reception up to GCSE level, as well as providing Adult learning, A Level, special educational needs and entrance examination services.

And it is now looking to use its to break into the flourishing Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) market for adults by first establishing a service in Taiwan before moving into the much-larger Chinese market and on into continental Europe.

National Learning Group first worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers last year to bring in an investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund, which it used to enhance its management systems, processes, infrastructure and website, as well as a recruitment drive.

And it has now gone back to NEL for an investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund to help it implement its Far East expansion plans.

A new service-specific website and branding have been developed to support its entry into the region, while expert personnel with substantial experience in the local education market have been recruited and new course content has been prepared.

Since receiving its first NEL investment, National Learning Group has doubled its head office team to 16 people, with recruitment continuing for further North East sales and administration roles.

The business is also looking at other potential markets for its TEFL services in the medium term, including mainland Europe, the Middle East, India and Pakistan.

Founder and managing director Oliver Batten says: “Our core business is continuing to perform well and we’re now looking to build on our achievements so far in what is potentially a huge new market for us.

“Our initial focus is on adult learners, with government workers and business people being a key focus, and we’ve brought in new staff who have the knowledge and experience of Far East markets required to get everything up and running quickly.

“We’ve developed a high-quality product that will be delivered by highly-qualified and experienced tutors who have all had extra training from us to ensure they’re delivering fully on what we promise our clients.

“Everything is now in place for our Far East launch and we’re excited at the opportunities that we know lie ahead.

“It was always part of our strategy to go back to NEL for this additional capital and the investment team was really helpful in getting this latest deal done.”

Jane Siddle, senior investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Having access to growth capital at successive stages of their development is essential if ambitious North East firms are going to be able to fulfil their potential and we’re worked with many successful businesses on multiple occasions to enable them to do just that.

“National Learning Group has clear goals in sight for the latest stage of its growth strategy and all the resources it needs to reach them.”

The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

Find out more about the North East Small Loan Fund

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