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Interview with Dick Palmer

[Reading time: 9 minutes]

In this Interview our Chairman, Dick Palmer talks about EduGrowth and what we have to offer.

Can you tell us a little bit about you and your background?

My background is mostly in education. Although, once I left university in the late 1970s, I did for a while, both travel and work abroad, and indeed set up my own business. In the early 1980s, I started teaching in York and in Leeds, in further education colleges, and then I moved to London and to progress my career within further education, eventually becoming Principal of City College, Norwich in 2003. Whilst I was there, I built up that college, developed it from a medium sized institution to the largest college in the East of England. And also, in the latter years of my tenure there, I created something called the Transforming Education in Norfolk group. Within that group, we had two further education colleges, five schools, one primary, a university technical college and a teacher training institution.

Since then, I’ve become an Education, Skills and Governance consultant. I’m chairman of an educational training provider and Deputy Chairman of larger educational group. And also, of course, I’m Chair of EduGrowth and have been since the inception of the company. So, I work with Joseph, our Managing Director, and founder and the team to set strategy and vision. I also have been involved in content development and relationship management for EduGrowth but my main role as the Chair is setting the strategy and working with the founder to develop the business.

What does EduGrowth do?

The company has three main strands. Firstly, we provide off the shelf learning programmes to educational institutions, which they can deliver to their learners. They have been primarily, to date, in the in the areas of entrepreneurship, team building, hybrid working, and coaching and mentoring. That’s the first strand.

The second strand is that we develop bespoke programmes for educational institutions and indeed employers. We can take a conceptual idea from an education institution, lets say around a training programme that they want to deliver, but they don’t currently have the capacity to do so, and we can create that for them and host it on our online learning platform – from which they can then deliver it. Then the third strand we have is around general consultancy relating, for example, to delivery of vocational education, assessment of and indeed quality assurance of vocational education. So, we’re an educational services company that works to support other educational institutions and the delivery of professional educational programmes to their learners.

What do you think the main strengths of the EduGrowth offer are?

I think EduGrowth has a range of strengths which enable it to have a unique position in the marketplace. I think first and foremost, we have a real diversity of skills and experiences across our team – including the board, team members, and the wider group of advisors that we have supporting the work of the company. That diversity of skills and experience crosses all sectors of education, from schools into further education, higher education, and also gives us a range of experience in awarding organisations around assessment, quality assurance etc. And indeed, for corporates, many of our staff have been involved in learning and development in large corporate organisations and have a great deal of experience developing staff development,through in house training for example, for those organisations. So that’s our first key strength, diversity of skills and experience within our team.

I think then, secondly, we have a real strength in that our complete approach to education and vocational training is has a practical focus, and you can see that in our online programmes where all of our assessments and course based activities, required of the learners, have a practical element and are focused on doing practical things rather than theorising around subjects. That gives us a competitive edge in the marketplace, I think, because it sets us apart from some of our competitors who tend to have a more academic focus.

I think our third key strength is around our international experience. We have experience in Africa, India, the Far East, China, America, wider Europe, etc. And across a range of countries again, through the experiences of the range of our team members. So, the ability to work with international companies and educational institutions, to be aware of the cultural, social and economic differences inherent in those international domains – this is a is a real core strength of the EduGrowth team. Also, I think we’re very clear in our mission. That’s another strength of the company. And our mission is very clear and simple. Our mission is to ‘empower educators’; we are a facilitating organisation, we provide educational, and primarily vocational educational, opportunities that will empower others, including learners themselves, to enhance their lifetime opportunities.

I think another one of our other main strengths is our focus upon quality. We have a range of experience within our team around both quality development and quality improvement, and indeed quality assurance. Our team members have been involved in the delivery of online and face to face programmes for a number of years and know what’s expected. And then finally, I think our other key strength is in our values and principles. Our values are key to the organisation, they are understood and carried out by the complete range of team members. And we are proud to have a range of ways of working that support our values and the principles that we adhere to.

You mentioned the EduGrowth values. Can you tell us a little more about those?

So, I think the educational that the EduGrowth values are a key part of how our organisation works. Probably our primary value is that we are focused on the needs of the learner. So, we develop programmes of learning that are adaptable, and can be flexed so that they suit particular groups of learners and indeed, host providers. So having that focus on the needs of the learners as a group, and indeed the individuals themselves, means that we are constantly thinking about how do our programmes facilitate accessibility, ease of understanding, knowledge assimilation, etc. One of our other key values is our contemporary resources. That is, we keep our learning resources up to date. They are always relevant in the marketplace in today’s workforce and workplace environment. We are proud of the fact that they are developed in conjunction with industry, academic and skills experts. Another value, which that EduGrowth tries to exhibit is our practical focus that I mentioned earlier. We create and develop deliver programmes, which not only provide skills and knowledge acquisition, but give them a context for the learners that are practical to them. Therefore, learners can create and construct individual responses to their activities that meet their own personal needs. So, for example, in the case of our entrepreneurial programmes, where we have a module on marketing, the actual assessment activities, and the learner practice activities, are all around creating a marketing plan. So that the end of that module , the learner will have not simply an understanding of marketing and the need for a marketing plan, but they will also physically have a marketing plan for their own entrepreneurial idea – and that focus upon practical activity is really important to EduGrowth as a company.

Another of values are that we aim for all of our learning programmes to be purposeful; they have to have clear aims behind all of the activities that learners undertake, so that our programmes very clearly identify the competencies, the outcomes, and what’s expected of every learner across the range of activities. Having that purpose is really important to us. Both externally and internally, we wish to develop a culture of continuous improvement. So, we use this approach in the development of both our products, but also, the ethos and the culture of the company as a whole. Continuous improvement is a key value for us because it shows that we are constantly striving to get better to improve our services to make our products more applicable, more relevant, and more accessible to both our partners and the learners they serve. A further value is that we uphold the highest levels of professionalism, and in particular in relation to providing outstanding customer service. Always putting the client needs first means that we have a professional responsibility to responding, reflecting, and creating services that the clients want and are relevant to them and offer both a quality service or product, but also provides value for money.

Our penultimate value regards utilisation of innovative technology. We predominantly provide services that are online; we have developed our own online platform that enables both individual learners and employers, or educational institutional partners, to deliver online vocational education and training. And we will continue to look to develop other technological innovations, for example around artificial intelligence and augmented reality learning programmes – so that we can enhance and ensure that the learning experience remains contemporary and up to date. Our final value is around efficiency; efficiency of delivery of programmes in collaboration with our partners is a key aspect of what we do. We are constantly reviewing how, what and when we provide services to ensure that they are both effective and meet our client’s needs.

What type of organisations does EduGrowth work with?

The types of organisations, EduGrowth works with are quite varied. Many are educational institutions (colleges and universities), both here in the UK and internationally. They vary in size, – some are quite small, from a small training provider, right through to a large internationally renowned vocationally based university. We also work with innovative corporates, companies that have multi sites across the UK, and also with small SMEs (small and medium enterprises) where we are offering very individualised, bespoke and targeted programmes to meet their needs. Also, the organisations that we work with come from many different countries across the globe. So we are working with partners in Asia, in the Far East, in the Middle East, in Africa, in India, China, and both North and South Americas.. But there is no single institution or organisation that EduGrowth won’t work with in this context because we wish to support everyone with vocational learning that can help them to succeed. So whatever organisations are out there, we’re willing to work with them as long as they share the same passion for quality learning as we do.

Why should organisations work with EduGrowth?

I think if you’re an organisation looking to develop your in-house training, your staff development programme as a corporate, or if you’re large international company or indeed a small enterprise with a local workforce, or an educational institution looking to develop online programmes for your learners and have particular local requirements – whatever your context, if you’re looking for a partner to help you deliver vocational and skills, education and in training, EduGrowth is the right place to be. We’re innovative, we’re responsive, we provide value for money, we will focus upon you, as a company, and you and your learners in that specialised programme that you wish to develop. We will tailor the programme, we will develop it, so it meets your particular needs. And we will do it in a professional and values-based way ensuring that the efficiency and effectiveness of the programme works for you and your clients.

Come and work with EduGrowth because we believe in the power of vocational education and skills to transform opportunities for people to grow and develop (personally and professionally), and we can help you do that – either for your workforce or with your learning community.