In recent dealmaking news, the Faria Education Group makes an acquisition, a British private-equity firm invests in the company Texthelp, and the international private school provider GEMS Education announces an expansion in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the British government is accepting applications from ed-tech organizations—including those outside the United Kingdom—interested in receiving grants from an “innovation fund” focused on bringing new approaches to ed-tech to British schools and colleges.
Faria Education Group acquires Dynamic Internet Solutions. Faria Education Group Limited, a K-12 technology company based in Portland, Ore., has acquired Dynamic Internet Solutions. The latter company is the provider of Curriculum Trak, a curriculum-mapping tool for K-12 faith-based schools.
Founded in 2006, Faria says it serves 10,000 schools and districts and 3 million students with a suite of three services: ManageBac, its flagship product for curriculum planning, assessment and reporting for IB World schools; OpenApply, a service focused on paperless admissions from inquiry to enrollment; and Atlas, a curriculum-management tool. The company operates globally across eight offices.
With the acquisition, Faria and DIS will serve 1,700 faith-based schools with a learning management platform that “connects faith-based curricular concepts to everyday learning,” the organizations said in a statement.
Mike Vander Berg, the managing director of Curriculum Trak, said the pairing of the companies “is the best way to even more effectively and quickly provide the additional tools and solutions Curriculum Trak schools have been seeking.”
During the 2019-2020 academic year, Faria says it plans to enhance the Curriculum Trak platform with a host of strategic features.
LDC Invests in Texthelp. Texthelp, an education and corporate software provider based in Northern Ireland, has received an investment of an undisclosed amount from the LDC, a British private-equity firm.
Texthelp offers a range of assistive technology solutions to help students as well as their teachers. The company’s literacy-support tools give students extra help with reading and writing in the classroom and at home. Besides K-12 and college support, the company’s software products help companies’ employees, and individuals working in a second language, or who have dyslexia. Texthelp says its customers include some of the biggest school districts in North America and Australia, as well as Fortune 500 corporations.
The investment is meant to help the company with growth and product development, particularly in the area of data analytics, LDC said in a statement. LDC is the private-equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group; LDC says it typically backs U.K.-based, medium-sized companies seeking up to £100 million of investment. It invests in sectors including health care, retail and consumer goods, travel, and financial services.
GEMS Education plans expansion. One of the world’s best-known operators of private schools, GEMS Education, and a partner will build more than 50 new schools in Saudi Arabia, a move that stems from their earlier acquisition of a school operator in that country, according to a report.
GEMS, based in the United Arab Emirates, is a major operator of private schools, serving expatriate families and others; it says it runs 55 schools in three countries, the vast majority of them in the UAE. It is planning to build the new schools with its joint venture partner, Hassana Investment Company, as part of their acquisition of the largest school operator in Saudi Arabia, the Ma’arif Education Group, according to a story in Arabian Business. Demand for private education, particularly programs viewed as preparing students for college, has soared in regions across the world, including the Middle East.
Ma’arif Education Group is the largest private school owner and operator in Saudi Arabia, serving more than 22,000 students, according to the report. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that the deal to acquire Ma’arif might be worth about $400 million.
Grants for ed-tech innovation. The British department of education is accepting applications for grants of up to £100,000 apiece for companies interested in helping schools and colleges make better use of technology.
The effort is part of a broader ed-tech initiative by the British government meant to support ed-tech innovations in certain areas, including cutting the time that teachers spend grading in-class assessments and homework; improving parent participation and communication; creating more flexible work schedules, and reducing time spent on grading essays. The overall fund of £4.6 million is based on £3.5 million funding from the Department for Education, and £1.1 million support from Nesta, a British foundation.
The grant program is open to organizations from outside of England, though the proposed projects should be focused on serving British schools and colleges. Up to 20 organizations could be funded. The deadline to apply for the first round of funding is July 15. More information can be found in the selection criteria and in the frequently asked questions.