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Learning to thrive: The education franchises guide

Learning to thrive: The education franchises guide

School up on this in-demand sector, and you could turn your passion for learning into a long-term career

The prospects for tutoring and education franchises are looking particularly good right now. The Schools White Paper, Opportunity for All, published 28 March 2022, sets out a series of new government measures – including the provision of up to six million tutoring courses by 2024 – and action to cement tuition as a permanent feature of the school system.

Who will deliver this tuition? Franchises are among the front runners.

Education franchises cover a whole host of subjects. Franchisees are delivering lessons in maths, English, foreign languages, I.T., science, sport – even fencing – through education and tutoring. There are franchises covering every age and stage of education, from babies and toddlers to primary, secondary, and even undergraduates.

You don’t need to be a teacher

It’s not necessary to have a background in education to take on these franchises – most of them are management franchises, which combine the satisfaction of helping children achieve with building a business.

Some involve running a learning centre, where staff help children work through specially created worksheets to learn skills required by the national curriculum. Others require you to market tutoring services, find suitable tutors and then match them with families. And then there are those franchises which deliver sessions in sports, music and arts, where children are taught by self-employed coaches, sourced by the franchisee.

A growing market

Tutoring was already booming, pre-pandemic, driven by the increased pressure on families to get children through national exams. But the enforced periods of home learning during 2020 and 2021 accelerated demand. “By the end of 2020, children in England were roughly two months behind where they should have been. This lag was present across virtually all subjects and year groups,” states an article by the Economic Observatory, a Bristol University-led economics education organisation.

The government responded with the National Tutoring Programme to help children catch up. Among the companies signed up as partners to deliver the tutoring was Tutor Doctor, whose franchisees match families to tutors according to the subject or subjects requiring extra help.

Frank Milner, president of Tutor Doctor, says: “Three franchisees were approved as tuition partners – Rob Kerrison of Tutor Doctor Cambridge, Neeta Rai of Tutor Doctor Beeston Park, and Chin & Rachael Tan of Tutor Doctor Bristol – and they began supplying targeted support for pupils in secondary schools, whose educational learning has been most affected as a result of the pandemic.”

The experience has convinced the government that tutoring, already hugely popular with parents, should be a permanent fixture.

Increased demand

Many tutoring franchises report increased demand following the pandemic.

Ed Hyslop, CEO of First Class Learning, which has over 300 tuition centres throughout the U.K., says: “In January we had our busiest month since the company started. Education was hit badly by the lockdowns, and concerned parents are now determined to help their children catch up. We have received a record number of enquiries from parents who know their children need some extra support. This is where we can help, by offering supplementary tuition in English and maths.”

Frank Milner says: “With one in four children in the U.K. (increasing to 40 per cent in London) using private tutors, the industry looks set to continue on an upward trajectory [Sutton Trust, 2019].

“At Tutor Doctor, we continue to grow at an unprecedented rate and have seen an incredible rise in the demand for tutors across our 78 franchises in the U.K. We have changed the lives of 200,000-plus students globally. With schools’ increased focus on improving academic performance overall, as well as the ever-increasing number of students working towards filling in learning gaps, I believe there’ll be a strong demand for private tutoring for many years to come.”

Many franchises are already working with schools, marketing their services to education authorities and local head teachers.

Giving something back

Education franchises are not just about providing education for the children of the rich. As well as government-backed schemes, such as the National Tutoring Programme, some franchises are keen to make learning more accessible to the whole community.

Justin Nihiser, chief executive of Code Ninjas, whose franchisees offer coding classes, says: “When prospects enquire about investing in a Code Ninjas franchise, it’s imperative that we feel they will make a real effort to support their communities wholeheartedly. Being a business owner comes with a certain amount of responsibility and, for Code Ninjas, working with those less fortunate couldn’t be more of a priority.”

Not just children

Pitman Training is one of the best-known adult education brands in the world and has been providing office skills training for over 180 years. With over 70 training centre locations across the U.K. and Ireland, it offers 50 individual flexi-study courses leading to Pitman Diplomas in a variety of subjects, including accounting technician, executive PA, legal secretary, medical secretary. and more.

It’s a management franchise, so franchisees don’t need a background in teaching, I.T., or career skills. Pitman recently launched a new marketing website to generate leads, on which each franchise partner has its own microsite. As well as this, Pitman also offers franchise partners training and ongoing support.

Education business adds up for Edinburgh franchise

Husband and wife team Gayle and Grant Jones are celebrating two years as owners of the Edinburgh First Class Learning (FCL) franchise which delivers English and maths tuition.

Gayle had already been running a thriving tutoring business in Edinburgh for seven years but felt something was missing. “When I came across First Class Learning I was immediately impressed by the quality of their materials and how much they were in sync with the national curriculum and the needs of students,” said Gayle.

She adds: “I met FCL’s chief executive and felt inspired, then went to talk with an existing franchisee and was excited by what I heard. The systems, processes, and work plans all seemed first class.”

Entering the education world has been a radical change for the couple, who previously spent eight years in Australia building up a successful property development business. “We really enjoyed the property sector but it’s quite volatile, so we looked for a business that was sustainable and had a bright future. Helping children realise their full potential is very satisfying. We have former students now at university, who bring their younger siblings to classes, which is a great feeling,” says Gayle.

Gayle runs four classes a week with over 300 students. Her goal is to grow this to 400 by May next year, with the help of a full-time receptionist and 20 part-time teaching assistants. The business operates from a dedicated teaching centre located on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Gayle says: “The support from FCL has been brilliant. Whatever we need, they’ve been there to help. We couldn’t have achieved what we have on our own.”

From freelance to franchisee: Joy Renshaw’s journey into education franchising

Joy Renshaw has been helping students at Pitman Training Brighton realise their dreams for 23 years.

After a career as an executive PA and then I.T. skills trainer, she became the centre manager and corporate I.T. trainer at Pitman Brighton, tutoring students and delivering I.T. skills training, and then in 2005 became the business owner as a Pitman franchisee.

“I never have a dull day because my students take a huge range of courses and diplomas here,” says Joy. “After 23 years, I still enjoy the work. Because Pitman is so well-established, I’ve been able to help far more people than I could have when I was working freelance.

“Head office provides business management systems and marketing support. They’re always looking to develop the products we use to ensure there are various innovative ways for students to learn.”

Joy runs the centre with her husband who manages the accounts while she sells the courses and advises students.

Joy advises: “If you’re looking to become a franchise partner with Pitman, always put your students first. Helping students choose the right course feels rewarding and provides a consistent income throughout the year.”

Code Ninjas Cheltenham brings more kids into coding

Dafydd Moore and wife Mel, from Cheltenham, were struggling to find after-school coding clubs for their two sons. Realising the need, they invested in a Code Ninjas franchise, which teaches children coding.

“The demand for the Code Ninjas curriculum really helps to demonstrate that as a society and a community, we’re taking positive steps towards equipping our younger generation with the ability to navigate the ongoing technological developments in the workplace,” says Dafydd, who as well as being a Code Ninjas franchisee is head of I.T. for a global technology brand.

Now the franchise is up and running, Dafydd has launched his scholarship programme, allowing disadvantaged children to take part in Code Ninjas’ coding classes, making problem-solving and critical thinking skills more accessible for all.

“With access to the scholarship, children from low-income families who are showing an interest in coding get the chance to learn with us at our Code Ninjas location and gain skills for the future. To ensure this scholarship scheme is accessible to as many students as possible, we’ve made a plea to local technology companies in Cheltenham, asking them to contribute approximately £100 per month towards the scheme,” says Dafydd.

Those chosen for the scholarship programme also have the opportunity to attend a one-week Code Ninjas summer camp, with equipment and extras covered by Dafydd and Mel. Dafydd says: “I was inspired to utilise the programme, which other Code Ninjas franchisees around the world operate in their own locations, so we can help children in our own community.”

Could franchising be the future of U.K. education?

Franchises might form the basis of U.K. education in the future. OK, stop laughing at the back, and think about it.

We now have a national curriculum that must include the subjects listed below. Many, possibly all of them could be delivered by tutoring and educational franchises, working in schools, local centres or family homes, taught by freelance tutors, face-to-face or on screen.

Who could deliver it? How about:

English: Kumon, Tutor Doctor, MagiKats
Maths: All of the above, Mathnasium, and more
Science: Boost Education (science, maths, English)
Design and technology: tutoring franchises
History and geography: tutoring franchises
Art and design: The Creation Station
Music: Kiddleydivey, UK Pianos
Physical education and swimming: Premier Education, Sportworks, Water Babies, Puddle Ducks, and many more
I.T. and computing: Code Ninjas, Jam Coding
Ancient and modern foreign languages: LCF Clubs (French and Spanish) and tutoring franchises can supply other teachers of other languages
There are even franchises that support children with special educational needs, such as dyslexia or autism: Choice Home Tutoring and KO-NEKT.

There are many more than those listed here – and some franchises are already working with schools to deliver parts of the curriculum. This could work relatively easily for primary education. Secondary may be more difficult, but the big tutoring franchises offer tutoring to secondary level, and even to undergraduates.

Some may undoubtedly think this is a terrible idea, but love it or loathe it, this could well be the way education is going – check here in 10 years’ time to find out.

Adding it up

• There are 19.2 million families in the U.K. (ONS, 2019) and 15.5 million children aged 0-19 (Statista.com 2018)
• A OnePoll survey of 1,000 parents of 10–16-year-olds across the country found 45 per cent believe paying for extra tuition is crucial to guarantee success in exams, says School Online
• U.K. parents are spending up to £1,500 a week on private tutors according to The Times
• The Tutors’ Association estimates that there are up to 100,000 tutors in the U.K. “This is a clear indication that private tutoring is becoming one of the most widely adopted learning methods to improve a student’s academic performance,” says Tutor Doctor president Frank Milner.

The author
Linda Whitney writes about franchising for the Daily Mail, What Franchise and many other publications

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