A former teacher turned EdTech entrepreneur believes his collaborative lesson planning platform can transform the profession and become a £100m business in the process.
Teachers currently spend around 40 per cent of their time planning lessons but Atif Mahmood believes his start-up Teacherly is the solution by getting teachers to collaborate through technology.
More than 2,000 schools and 70,000 teachers have already signed up the platform, which has just broken into the UAE market.
Mahmood said he decided to do something after witnessing the problem first-hand and seeing a growing number of colleagues leave the industry.
“Teachers spend a lot of time planning lessons,” he said. “If you imagine your child’s teacher or your brother or sister is a teacher, you spend 40 per cent of the time planning lessons, 20 lessons a week, that’s a lot of lessons you have to plan for. And they do it on their own.
“Teacherly allows them to collaborate on the lesson planning with other teachers, connecting teachers teaching the same subject and reducing the workload.”
He launched the SaaS-based business in 2016 after moving from Derby to Manchester to join an Accelerator programme.
Explaining how it works he gave the following example. “A year nine teacher in a school secondary school in Derby signs up, with the department paying for it,” he said. “When they log in, they will see the English teachers, maths teachers, whichever year nine subject they teach, that other teachers are teaching in another city or a country and if they wanted to, send them an invite and collaborate on planning with them.”
Teacherly has raising around £3m, including £1.5m in venture capital funding. The start-up has also received match-funding from the UAE and an undisclosed investment from US-based Global Village, which is backed by high profile entrepreneurs including Reid Hoffman, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
Teacherley’s turnover has grown in the last year from £468,000 to £1.4m, rising to an estimated £3.3m next year. Mahmood predicts it will eventually grow to £100m.
“What I want to do is break that cycle of being here again in 10 year (and teachers) saying, ‘we’re still struggling with workload’,” he said. “The only way to do that is to really grow a business that can go to the moon, and make a difference to the teachers and take them with us.
“The morale for teachers is very low right now especially the new qualified teachers. Just in the UK alone, you’ve got around 460,000 newly qualified teachers coming to the profession but four out of 10 leave. I’m telling you right now robots and AI are not going to replace teachers.”
Mahmood was speaking at a business event in Warrington called ‘On A Stick’, organised by Opus by Carpe Diem. He was of seven entrepreneurs to share their story against a backdrop of Luke Jerram’s seven metre wide ‘Museum of the Moon’ artwork.
The other speakers were: John Kershaw, founder of M14 Industries; James Bedford, former head of Investment Partnerships at Tech Nation; award-winning Anna Heyes, founder of Active Profile: Guy Weaver, director of Praetura Ventures; serial entrepreneur Lorna Davidson, founder of The Mothership Group and RedWigWam; and former barrister Sue Wright, who is now the managing director of Signature Living and oversees 900 staff.