A Northumberland-headquartered education consultancy is aiming to build on 18 months of accelerated growth with the backing of a six-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

National Learning Group offers educational support and tutoring services for learners of all ages which are delivered remotely by a network of classroom-experienced teachers.

The business has created around 60 jobs since being set up in 2018, with an eight-strong team now based at its Prudhoe headquarters, and has experienced particularly strong growth since early last year with demand for its services increasing substantially during the pandemic.

After working with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure the £100,000 Small Loan Fund investment, National Learning Group is aiming to create up to 15 new sales and administration jobs in the North East as part of the next stage of its growth strategy.

Part of the investment will be used to enhance the business’s management systems and processes, as well as its website, so that it has the infrastructure required to support its growth ambitions.

As well as continuing to expand its client base and network of tutors, the business is also looking to break into Asian markets in the medium term by developing a new service for teaching English as a foreign language.

National Learning Group facilitates one-to-one Maths and English tuition for young people from Reception up to GCSE level, and also provides Adult learning, A Level, special educational needs and entrance examination services.

Founder and managing director Oliver Batten says: “The business has been growing steadily right from the start, but the impact of the pandemic meant that everything has accelerated over the last 18 months and we want to capitalise on the momentum we’ve built during that time.

“Our services are delivered by highly-qualified and experienced tutors who provide a tailored approach to the specific needs of each individual learner, and the feedback that we get emphasises the difference that they make not only to learners’ educational achievements, but also to their self-confidence and appetite for learning.

“With demand for our services looking likely to remain high for the foreseeable future, we want to capitalise on what we’ve done so far by taking our operations to the next level and creating more North East jobs along the way.

“We know there are also huge opportunities overseas for teaching English as a foreign language, particularly in Asia, and we’ll be looking to enhance our presence in this sector over the medium term.

“The NEL team were extremely helpful in guiding us through the investment application process, and their enthusiasm for our business development plans gave us extra confidence in what we’re looking to achieve.”

Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Oliver and his team have made very impressive progress over just a few years and there are clear opportunities for them to achieve more by building on these solid foundations.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

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.