A firm that developed software to help North East teachers is about to see its technology rolled out across UK primary schools.
Set up a year ago in the Team Valley, Gateshead, Mesma was self-financed by three colleagues working in the learning and skills sector. Its directors, who all work part-time, invested £10,000 at the outset, alongside a £2,000 grant.
The company was set up in response to changes implemented by education watchdog Ofsted, which led to schools, colleges and independent providers having reduced notice of inspection.
Due to its success, the firm aims to more than double its turnover to £75,000 by August 2014 and also increase staffing.
Although its founders Neil Donkin and Carole Loader work for other companies, and Mesma director Louise Doyle runs another business, the trio have increased the number of independent training provider clients nationally from 20 to 32. They also have plans to become a five-strong team within two years by moving into the primary schools market. It could potentially be rolled out to 17,000 UK primary schools.
The software aims to give colleges and training providers more time to spend on teaching and less on paperwork. It is designed to help training providers complete self-assessment, a requirement of the Ofsted common inspection framework.
Mesma software could also be rolled out internationally.
Doyle said: “We have spoken with UKTI who have been very supportive and we could roll the software out to the Middle East and Australia in the future.”
Donkin, a software developer with the awarding body NCFE, developed the programme, which is available through an annual subscription fee.
Mesma was also a finalist in The Journal’s If We Can You Can 2013, run by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.
Doyle added: “The changes Ofsted introduced last year are increasing the pressure on education providers at what was already a very stressful time for all involved.
“By reducing the notice period to as little as 48 hours, management teams no longer have the time to ensure everything is in place before the inspectors arrive. Therefore, it is vital that everything is at hand at all times, with information updated contemporaneously.
“That is what our software and support makes possible and we have adapted the system for the primary school market, to reflect the unique issues faced by those involved. This is an issue faced by every primary school, secondary school, college or independent provider, so we believe there is a lot we can do in that market and that by working with headteachers and management teams we can support them and create strong growth within our business.”