Educate CEO, James de Bass looks back on how a business that started out supplying a wide array of school support services became the provider of one of the leading teacher performance management and school improvement solutions.
What was Educate’s first major breakthrough or watershed moment?
Switching from paper-based templates for performance management and creating an online system was a strategic turning point for us, followed soon after by our decision to focus on this specific area of expertise, rather than trying to be a full service offering.
What’s been the toughest challenge that Educate’s faced to date?
Our toughest challenge was taking the decision to withdraw from the procurement business. Demand for the service wasn’t high enough, and the cost of delivering it on a small
scale wasn’t sustainable.
What can you tell us about the company’s upcoming plans?
There are two areas I’m very excited about – one is our foray into China where we’re working alongside the Ministry of Education to introduce Standards Tracker to government schools in China. I will be going over in November, together with one of our headteacher clients, to present at their national conference in Beijing.
The second is a new planning and reporting tool. It’s a simple dashboard for reporting on school progress for governors, which at the same time has all the information needed for support and challenge in one place and online. We’re currently rolling it out to a group of over 400 schools and will be launching it to other schools towards the end of
How was Educate first founded?
Educate was founded as a result of listening to friends working in education describing frustrations with their work-life balance and the inefficiencies within their schools.
We set about looking for solutions from business that could be applied to education to help alleviate those frustrations.
What was the company’s initial vision, and to what extent has it changed?
It was to help headteachers manage their schools more efficiently and effectively, by providing them with expert support, training and systems to improve on their current practice.
We wanted to improve three aspects in particular:
- Outcomes – how can we help directly or indirectly improve KPIs?
- Time – how can we help improve internal processes within schools to free up time?
- Money – how can we lower schools’ costs?
We knew that we could improve the quality of teaching through effective staff performance management systems, and we also knew that we could save schools money through better procurement procedures.
Following the introduction of performance related pay, we went on to train many thousands of headteachers on how to implement the changes and provided them with policies and templates.
In the area of procurement, we’ve successfully saved schools and school groups considerable amounts of money through joint procurement initiatives.
In between we’ve made forays into all sorts of other interesting areas, which have included commissioning four new charitable schools in Zambia; getting into Initial Teacher Training; project managing the set up of two University Technical Colleges and carrying out recruitment work for clients.
However, we’ve since returned to our roots and now focus solely on helping schools get the best from their people through our online management systems.
Founded; educators and business people share expertise to create a services company
Acquired Head Support Ltd. and joined forces with Nigel Middleton
Launched Standards Tracker – an online version of the paper-based AESOPP audit
Signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese National Institute of Education Sciences
Educate School Services, 020 3411 1080, [email protected]