Wey Education PLC (LON:WEY) Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Daniell caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their recent developments and how these benefit the company.
Q1: It’s been a while since we last spoke, can you talk us through some of the more recent developments at Wey Education?
A1: It has been a while since you’ve heard from us, obviously there’s been a lot of things to sort out and a lot of things to do.
As you know, we’ve been very much focussed on growing our core businesses in delivering superior online education and we can see the opportunities in front of us with those and we’re really excited about what can be achieved and where it can lead us.
So, the first thing is that we created a new strategic post and appointed an executive headteacher to head up Wey’s academic functions across the core businesses so the academic structure now very much meets the future business needs across the group.
We have extended InterHigh school down the age groups with an additional year group, year 4 so that’s an extension of KS2 and we have opened an additional site, still conveniently local to the operations in South Wales but as a dedicated exam centre.
Most recently, we are now delighted to be working with an eminent advocate for our brand in British former sprint and hurdling athlete Colin Jackson.
Q2: Are these significant additions within the group?
A2: Yes, they are. The Executive Head role is important because the former leadership model was likely to be unsustainable in the medium and longer term, the company’s growth demands a different style and model of academic leadership and management.
So, the education perspective, we now no longer depend on the energy and vision of one of the founders, which works very well up to a point, but the group is now at the stage where its able to convert from purely entrepreneurial in its education services to a more formal educational standing.
The extension of KS2 is important, not only because it broadens our market and our channels but because it gives us more opportunities to make a difference.
The additional exam centre not only improves the logistics for our students but it also brings a much needed service to the ever-increasing home education market.
A high profile ambassador like Colin Jackson really does promote the positive attributes of online education and specifically InterHigh school and all the benefits and education solutions it provides for young people.
Q3: Can you give us some more details of these changes that have been made?
A3: The former academic structure had limitations in its scalability to match business growth so the appointment of Wayne Owens in Executive Head brings the organisation’s principals to the education structure so that is a flat hierarchy with clear layers and spans of control. This will enhance the ability to deliver future growth, the change will help to drive quality assurance, accountability, ownership as well as operational effectiveness.
Last year, for the first time, we ran a summer school which was very successful, classes quickly filled, and it revealed a perhaps unanticipated demand for year 4 so that’s age 8. So, InterHigh Juniors has its own curriculum, its own projects, its own activities etc. to suit the lower age groups and their various learning needs and budgets.
For a while now, we have been able to make good use of school champions, usually these have been past or present pupils and their families who wish very much to spread the word about the huge benefits of online schooling. This year, we talked to many, perhaps, more high-profile brand ambassadors who wish to champion Wey’s services but we felt we hadn’t really come across the right fit.
Education is a life-changer and any advocate for us had to be pertinent and sensitive to that so Colin’s post-retirement media career is focussed on the importance of young people and their learning so that’s a perfect relationship. He has a captivating personality and his authenticity is immediately apparent, he can most definitely engage with our markets in their world.
Q4: Can you explain to us some of the benefits of all this will bring to the group?
A4: Well, the Executive Head role will bring some obvious benefits to us, it will bring increased capacity for leadership and management, it will drive the implementation of best practice in teaching and learning and it will ensure the academic integrity of the AI developments that are underway.
The extending of the school down to age 8 adds to the flexibility of our offering particularly for very able pupils so children enjoying advanced academic studies can now also enjoy the enrichment activity appropriate to their emotional age. It gives us the benefit of offering a modern foreign language to a young child or to a school’s curriculum where they haven’t already got one.
With the exam centre, the obvious benefit to us is customer convenience and reaching out to that home education market but it also adds a facility for the company, it can be used for meetings and all of the training that we do out of exam season time.
Obviously, having Colin Jackson working with us as our ambassador will be a huge benefit to us, mainly through promotion and brand awareness. As well as being an elite sportsman and a BBC presenter, Colin is an experienced and dynamic coach so he’s not only able to promote sport and exercise projects that we coordinate but he also brings those motivational and inspirational dimensions so part of the strands for wellbeing for young people that we integrate into the company’s experience.
I believe that the real benefits with all of this comes from the fact that now everyone at Wey Education is now working in something they understand very well. Our experience and our research and our data, whichever stakeholder group it is, whether it’s student and parents, whether it’s school and local authorities, whether it’s our corporate clients or governments, the team are very close to that consumer.
We can recognise the needs of the market very quickly and then offer the solution and that’s basically what’s been happening in the last few months.