Employer – Angharad Thomas (Co-Founder) talks to us about life at East Learning

Employer – Angharad Thomas (Co-Founder) talks to us about life at East Learning

Movemeon employer spotlights are a series of articles highlighting our clients. They detail the internal company culture, employee experience and outline their ideal candidate.

Here, we speak to Angharad, the Co-Founder of East Learning.

Lara, East Learning’s Growth Manager
“Angharad and Matt are both dedicated to making a difference in the education sector. Having both left consulting, they are now building an incredible team to help them in their mission to narrow the inequalities in the education system which can have a lasting impact on children from disadvantaged backgrounds”

In your own words, please describe what the East Learning does.

East helps schools provide better, more personalised development opportunities and support for their students. We do this by helping schools collect and use data to understand where to focus their (typically limited) resources, based on student interests and needs, and then measure the effectiveness of their efforts. This is done through a combination of software and what is essentially consultancy/change management support – upskilling school leaders in how to interpret data and use it to inform and review strategic plans, training teachers, running practice sharing workshops – whatever is most effective for a particular school.

Most of the schools we work with are in highly disadvantaged areas, with large numbers of students who don’t get much in the way of support and encouragement at home. The number of 16-year-olds who have reported that they aren’t good at anything, or don’t have any plans for their future, is heartbreaking – and something we want to help schools eliminate.

Where has the East Learning been and where do you see it going?

East Learning was ‘born’ in 2017, although the concept has been percolating in Matt’s mind for about a decade. We’ve gone from 300 students in that first year to 3,000 in 2018-9, to at least 30,000 this academic year – so we’re on a pretty solid trajectory! Our aim is to have our programme Aspirations in every school in the country – so for now, our focus is on proving impact, ensuring scalability, and making sure what we’re doing is as effective as it can be.

We’ve also just started to work with our first Local Authority to help them work with their schools to ensure that all young peoples’ needs are being met. While there is a lot of individual schools can do, a network of regional support can be significantly more effective. 

What is your current role at East Learning and what was your path to getting there?

I’m a co-founder, responsible for the product and operations side of the business – which essentially means everything that isn’t actually working in the schools or building our pipeline.

I started my career at Oliver Wyman, where I spent 6 years between the London and Dubai offices before eventually getting fed up of suitcase living and going back to university to do an MSc in Computer Science. After this I joined another social enterprise, SuperCarers, where I took on a variety of roles corresponding to whatever the company needed most at the time – initially COO and Head of Product, then Director of Product and Marketing, then finally taking on sales and partnerships to cover the whole of the Customer side of the business – although always with a focus on product development, which is what I am most passionate about. 

What motivated you to join East Learning?

Just over a year ago I went for coffee with Matt – a friend of a friend – to get his advice on making a move into the education sector. At that point, Matt was wrapping up his first year trialling his idea for data-driven development programmes with promising early results. Over the course of two hours, we realised that our strengths and areas of interests perfectly complemented each other, and started to get really excited about what we could achieve together. I quit my job the next day!

What is the East Learning culture like?

At the moment we’re still very small (two founders plus six part-time contractors), so the culture is defined largely by our individual personalities!

We get on incredibly well and spend a lot of our time laughing, which is a helpful antidote to the inevitable stress of starting a company. We have extremely ambitious goals, but we also know that we work best when we’re rested, healthy and happy – which means spending time with family/friends and pursuing our hobbies will always be a priority. Another focus for us is self-development, both personally and professionally – unsurprisingly, given what we do!

Beyond that, we have lots of ideas about how we want our company culture to develop but will also want this to be shaped by the rest of our team. The only thing we’re really set on is continuing our tradition of East Week, where our time is split between surfing, working and generally enjoying being by the sea! 

What kind of person would suit working at East Learning?

Someone who really cares about making equality of opportunity a reality. You’ll also need to be self-motivated and comfortable working in a state of flux, given we’re dealing with both rapid growth and an extremely dynamic client base!

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