Smart Start helps students succeed

Smart Start Specialised Tuition Service Ltd, based in Londonderry, is currently receiving support from Invest Northern Ireland to develop and expand their service in export markets.  

Invest NI’s funding has enabled Smart Start to strengthen its management, training/development and marketing activities. Improving capability in these areas has enabled the business to target opportunities it has identified in parts of the Republic of Ireland.

The company has already received a number of approaches from groups and individual parents in Donegal. Smart Start has a number of funded projects that are currently being delivered across Northern Ireland and it has also pinpointed opportunities to deliver its expertise to primary and secondary school pupils further afield.

Des Gartland, Manager of Invest NI’s North West Regional Office (NWRO) in Londonderry, announcing Growth Accelerator Programme (GAP) assistance for Smart Start said: “This enterprising company is already meeting a developing market trend from education authorities, schools and individual parents for personalised tuition for students who are experiencing learning difficulties especially from conditions such as dyslexia.

“The expert services they are developing are in line with the focus of education bodies and parents on helping students gain recognised qualifications and skills that will help them to find rewarding and satisfying careers.

“We are particularly keen to encourage the company to explore opportunities for its expertise outside Northern Ireland. The interest from potential clients in Donegal shows that the Smart Start business model has export potential.”

“Invest NI’s GAP support has therefore been shaped to encourage and assist Smart Start to initially exploit opportunities in Donegal and to market its expertise in other parts of the Republic. GAP offers smaller companies, especially new or recent start-ups offering expert services, access to some initial funding for specific needs such as the recruitment of key personnel or marketing,” added Mr Gartland.

Managing Directors, Aisling Hannaway and Denise O’ Kane, initially formed Smart Start in 2004 to provide a range of services to assist children and young people who were experiencing literacy and numeracy difficulties.. The service has since expanded across Northern Ireland, delivering a wide range of programmes and courses in nursery, primary and secondary schools, and has now set it sights on the RoI market.

Denise O’Kane said: “Our approach is based on working alongside teachers, school authorities and education bodies in developing tuition to meet the specific needs of individual pupils.

“We offer practical support ranging from testing literacy and numeracy levels to providing specialised tuition for students with specific educational needs. 11+, KS3, GCSE and A-Level tuition in the core subjects is also provided for any student experiencing difficulties in a particular area.”

Smart Start is also a registered ASDAN centre and offers a range of ASDAN courses, such as Life Skills and CoPE which offer young people an alternative education route that results in accredited qualifications.