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Build it and they will come

Key Learning opens a brand-new learning centre in Bingley thanks to a £10k Start Up loan from BEF.

Marie McAvan is the founder of Bingley-based Key Learning, a private education provider that offers professional tutoring in English, Maths and Science for students aged 6 to 18.

“We make academic subjects accessible and bring them to life.” Marie said, “We work with a cross spectrum of clients from the local area. Our learners could be working to improve exam grades, fill in any gaps in their curriculum knowledge, or build confidence in a subject. Whatever their needs, we provide real tuition in small groups that helps them to achieve their goal.”

Marie is no stranger to classrooms. Twenty years ago, Marie was Head of English within a school and working towards becoming a Head Teacher when a life-changing illness resulted in her leaving the teaching profession. Having recovered from her illness, Marie worked within the Marketing industry for 10 years. More recently she worked as a tutor in a local education centre, Kip McGrath before she decided to launch Key Learning.

“I love interacting with learners. Watching the penny drop is one of the most rewarding experiences I know.” Marie said. “While I am unable to work full-time within a school, Key Learning offers me the opportunity to work with learners and teachers and enjoy all the best parts of teaching.”

To open Key Learning, Marie needed to setup a dedicated learning centre to provide a safe learning environment for students and peace of mind for parents and teachers. Having found the perfect location, Marie approached BEF in September 2018 to finance the purchase of essential classroom equipment, IT and teaching resources. Thanks to a £10,000 Start Up Loan from BEF, Marie was able to make complete the purchases, install a secure entry system and commission a marketing agency to assist with branding, marketing and a website.

Since opening the learning centre , Key Learning has delivered tuition to 45 students within the academic year ending in June 2019. It has expanded its provision to include the delivery of teaching within schools and preparation for the 11+ exam. It is currently looking at solutions to  support students with special education needs (SEN).

Marie said: “I followed the mantra, build it and they will come. That’s exactly what’s happening. We’ve received excellent feedback from parents who appreciate the sentiments behind our strapline: ‘We know they can’. They no longer have to travel far to get learning support for their children.” 

Key Learning is currently accepting registrations for the new academic starting in September. It’s on target to teach 100 students by Christmas. Thanks to strong teacher recruitment and closer working relationships with local schools, Marie is set to grow Key Learning’s student population even further.

Reflecting on her success, Marie notes that she is finally set to realise her ambition to be a Head Teacher, albeit on a smaller scale.

Speaking of her experience with BEF, Marie said: “Rupert Shires, my Start Up Loan Manager was a great help. Meeting him was like a mini Dragon’s Den session which helped me to focus my business plan and cashflow forecast. His critical eye pointed me in the right direction.” 

Marie’s advice for start-ups with a good idea but no funding: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A Start Up loan allows you to kickstart and grow your business. The business plan template is a great help. If you don’t have the answers to the questions, then you don’t have a business.”

Rupert Shires, Start Up Loan Manager at BEF said: “Marie offers a much-needed service to pupils in Bingley and the surrounding areas. Her experience, expert team and well-equipped learning environment makes all the difference to learners. I’m confident that Marie and Key Learning will be a great success.”

For more information on Key Learning visit

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