The education recruitment market is underpinned by strong market fundamentals including a high teacher drop-out rate, many teachers taking early retirement, and increasing pupil numbers. This has contributed to a market facing chronic talent shortages, but one where recruiters able to access vetted and compliant candidates have prospered.
Whilst the majority of recruitment firms continue to follow traditional forms of expansion, often through a branch roll-out strategy, others have turned to M&A. Over the past year dealflow has been driven by private equity backed recruiters seeking geographic spread. Examples include TPG Capital-backed TES Global, which acquired Smart Education, and Sovereign Capital-owned Synarbor which acquired Just Teachers.
The catering market continues to report steady growth as both councils and independent school operators increasingly use professional providers to cut costs and deliver an improved service while meeting complex nutritional standards and health and safety legislation.
France-based Elior group’s acquisition of Waterfall Catering Group exemplified the trend, but it also highlighted a return to the market of one of the big five global contract caterers. Another deal saw MML-backed CH&Co, a business that merged with Host Catermasters Group in 2015, purchase education specialist The Brookwood Partnership.
Whilst textbook publisher Pearson continues to struggle in the US, education publishers in the highly regulated Netherlands market have courted interest from private equity investors. Over the past year all three largest publishers have changed hands with Iddink Groep, Van Dijk Educate B.V and Noordhoff Uitgevers being acquired by NPM Capital, TowerBrook Capital and Compass Partners respectively.
A standout deal in the services to schools market saw LLCP beat off competition from Providence Equity to purchase educational assessments business GL Assessment in a deal reportedly worth €245m, representing a 14.0x multiple.
Meanwhile parents are increasingly investing in tutoring services. For instance in Germany it has been estimated1 that approximately 1.2 million pupils are receiving tutoring, with parents spending on average €87 per month. Private equity funds are courting leading players. Deutsche Beteiligungs AG backed the management of Schülerhilfe GmbH, and Aurelius acquired Studienkreis GmbH. In the UK Graphite Capital acquired Explore Learning.
Read about our recent transactions
Clearwater International advises on €26m sale of Synarbor to Sovereign Capital
Synarbor plc (Synarbor), a market leading education recruitment business, has been sold to Sovereign Capital Partners LLP. Clearwater International advised the company on the sale.
Synarbor, head-quartered in Sheffield, has over 20 years’ experience in placing staff in the state, independent and international education sectors. The business predominantly supplies temporary teachers, teaching assistants and support staff to its clients, which comprise primary and secondary schools (including academies), and also special educational needs schools and nurseries. The business is differentiated in the market by its unique managed service, schools collaborative approach, including added value offerings ranging from consultancy through to fully managed turnaround services. The business engages with approximately 2,000 clients.
Clearwater International advises Waterfall Services on secondary buyout
Clearwater International has advised leading independent contract caterer Waterfall Services (“Waterfall”) on its €25m secondary buyout, backed by LDC.
Headquartered in Warrington, Waterfall operates through two very strong brands in Taylor Shaw and Caterplus. Taylor Shaw operates in the education sector with contracts for state primary & secondary schools and colleges, whilst also maintaining a presence in business and industry. Caterplus, which services residential and care homes across the country as well as welfare charities and shelters, is regarded as the largest operator in the sector.
Vision For Education acquired by TES Global
Fast-growing supply teaching agency Vision for Education has been sold to TES Global, the UK’s leading player in teacher recruitment.
Operating from nine offices across the North, Vision for Education has grown rapidly since its foundation in 2008. The business provides teaching staff to a wide range of schools, offering competitive rates to schools and to the teachers it recruits, and it has seen the number of teachers it places per week double over the past two years.
TES Global, formerly known as TSL Education, is the UK’s number one agency for teacher recruitment – advertising over 70,000 teaching jobs in the last 12 months alone. The company’s online platforms host the largest network of teachers in the world with over 5.9 million teaching members in 197 countries across the globe.
Clearwater International facilitated an introduction between the two companies.