Levine Leichtman backs MBO of UK education provider MPW

US private equity group Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) has made its first European platform investment, teaming up with the management of UK-based Mander Portman Woodward Limited (MPW) to buy out the company.

The business was previously owned by Apollo Global Inc, a unit of US private education provider Apollo Group Inc (NASDAQ:APOL). No information on financial terms was included in the announcement.

MPW is headquartered in London and specialises in educational courses for UK and foreign secondary school graduates looking to continue their education at well-known UK universities. Its services are used by more than 900 students every year and the courses are conducted at MPW’s campuses in London, Cambridge and Birmingham.

Lauren Leichtman, who co-founded LLCP and serves as its chief executive, said that MPW was the UK leader in its field and had built an outstanding reputation for the quality of its services and the success rate of its students.

MPW is a company with a strong record of growth and profitability and LLCP is eager to participate in the next phase of its development, working closely with MPW’s chief executive Nigel Stout and his team of senior managers, Leichtman added.

Stout said that MPW’s leadership was very excited about having as partner a company of LLCP’s calibre and would benefit greatly from its knowledge and long experience. With the strategic, financial and deal-making expertise of LLCP behind it, MWP expects to make the most of future growth opportunities, Stout said.

Educating one million girls to tackle poverty

Britain will help up to a million of the poorest girls in the world go to school, the Deputy Prime Minister announced today.

The Girls Education Challenge is a new project that will call on NGOs, charities and the private sector to find better ways of getting girls into school in the poorest countries in Africa and Asia which the UK has identified as a priority, including Bangladesh, South Sudan and Nigeria.

The projects will help provide:

  • 650,000 girls with a full six years of primary education or
  • Up to a million girls with a junior secondary education for three years.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Women and girls continue to bear the brunt of poverty. Investing in them early on and giving them an education not only radically alters their lives but has a massive knock on effect benefitting their families and communities. Girls who have been to school are likely to do significantly better financially, socially and be far healthier.

“The action we are taking is ambitious and something of which Britain should be enormously proud. It will help to lift hundreds of thousands of girls out of poverty so that they can fulfil their potential.”

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:

“Educating girls tackles the root causes of poverty. Research shows that providing girls with an extra year of schooling can increase their wages by up to 20 per cent, while also lowering birth rates, which can have a profound economic impact.

“These initiatives will also have positive impacts on future generations. They will mean girls are more likely to go on to help their sisters and younger girls in the community to follow their example – go to school and widen their choices,  to get married later, for example, and to earn their own income.”

The Girls Education Challenge will be a competitive process that encourages organisations to set up schemes targeting marginalised girls of primary and lower secondary age. Non-government organisations – including businesses and charities – are being asked to put forward ideas to get girls into good quality education and there will be a focus on working with new organisations and partners – to try new approaches where traditional approaches have not been successful.  The British Government will then back the best of these.

In order to receive continued funding, the organisations will have to demonstrate measurable improvements in the quality of education and increased numbers of girls going to school. Only programmes which can demonstrate the most cost-effective ways of working will receive backing.

The programmes will also have to show  that they will get more marginalised girls into school. It is likely that some of the activities which are supported will ensure that facilities at school – for example separate latrines and “safe spaces” for girls – are provided. The types of initiative are those that provide a combination of support to girls and young women: scholarships which not only pay for school fees but ensure girls are able to buy their own uniform, travel safely to school and support them to find work once they leave school.

Girls who are educated are more likely to:

  • marry later – a girl who has attended secondary school is less likely to marry during her adolescent years
  • have fewer children – on average a woman’s fertility rate drops by one birth for every four years of additional schooling
  • get immunisation and other health treatments for themselves and their babies
  • avoid HIV – a study shows girls with secondary education are three times less likely to be HIV positive
  • find employment and earn more – an extra year of schooling sees wages increase 10 to 20 percent

The International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell will give more details at the UN General Assembly this week.

This new support is in addition to the Coalition Government’s commitment to support 9 million children from developing countries in primary and 2 million in secondary education by 2015.

Less than £10 spend per child on ICT in many UK schools

Across in England and Wales 1,804 primary schools spend less than £10 per pupil on ICT (Information and Communication Technology) equipment. Many pupils are therefore going without up-to-date learning tools, reveals research by Syscap, a leading independent IT finance provider to the education sector.

Worse still between the period of April 1 2009 to March 31 2010 377 of the 14,495 primary schools in England and Wales spent nothing at all.

Philip White, Chief Executive of Syscap, comments: “To hear that 12% of primary schools are spending £10 per primary school pupil is especially worrying as this data covers a period before the real tightening of education budgets began.”

Says Philip White: “ICT resources have a very short shelf life especially in a school environment. Low levels of ICT investment means that schools will soon be running old, slow and very unreliable equipment which will impair the effectiveness of learning through ICT use.”

“When you consider the pace of change in ICT equipment and the increasing importance of ICT to the competitiveness of the UK economy such a small per pupil expenditure seems anachronistic.”

“Arguably you can choose to put off investing in other parts of the school’s infrastructure for a while such, as buildings, but deferring investing in technology can have a very quick and detrimental impact on the effectiveness and relevance of their ICT assets.”

“Even the national average spend annual spend on ICT of £50 per primary school pupil is seen by many commentators as too low.”

“Ofsted’s surveys of the use of ICT in schools find that technology can be extremely effective in helping pupils to acquire literacy skills. For example, using the internet for research is a great way to engage boys who are felt to be reluctant readers and writers, and computer software can be used to help children with English as a second language with their grammar and pronunciation.”

“But obsolete equipment will mean that schools can’t use the latest educational software, and pupils will inevitably lose their enthusiasm for a project if the computer keeps crashing”

Philip White added: “Most of us take access to the internet and using a computer for granted, and it is easy to forget that for many children, school is the only place where they can use technology.”

“Of course new investment is difficult in this economic climate, but it is vital that pupils are not left behind in a world where more and more information is being delivered through technology.”

Philip White says schools can bypass the short-shelf life of IT resources easing ICT equipment at a fixed cost per year.