image for Planning to put code on the curriculum stateside...

Planning to put code on the curriculum stateside...

Published on Tuesday, 27th October 2015, contributed by AMBITIOUS

Bristol based CPD for Teachers set to take American education sector by storm with the support of UKTI

 “A recommendation from a friend to call UKTI has had a massive impact on the future of my business,” says Matt Thurling of CPD for Teachers.

Matt, a Bristol-based entrepreneur and founder of a national training school, knew he was onto a winning idea when he developed a computer science training programme for teachers coaching them on how to teach code.

The programme, which has been well received on a national level in the UK, was launched to tie in with the Government’s change from ICT to a new computing curriculum. Recognising the need to fill a future skills shortage in the sector, children as young as five years are now expected to learn about the basis of computer science including coding.

Matt firmly secured first mover advantage in the training industry with his programme. He also recognised that this is one aspect of education in which the UK is leading the world, so he set about immediately looking into international opportunities and to take advantage of the head start he’d secured in the UK market.

CPD for Teachers offers an online blended learning service called C5, which stands for Creative Coding, Cross-Curricular Computing, and is designed to work with both UK and US curricula.

Taking the First Steps

Soon after, Matt successfully secured a speaking appointment in the US at the fringe education event of the world’s leading digital festival, South by Southwest. This event gave him a great opportunity to meet relevant people and start building his US network.

However, how to make the next leap and sell in the US market was a stumbling block. After making the initial call to UKTI, Matt had a consultation with an International Trade Advisor (ITA).

“It was clear from the beginning that Matt had a strong export proposition. Our job was to move fast and help get him on the right track straight away,” says Jamie Douglas, ITA.  

UKTI’s advice was for Matt to take advantage of the Export Market Research Scheme (EMRS) within its portfolio of services.  This scheme supported Matt in his investigation of the US market, with funding to help with travel costs and guidance on how he could gather the data and market validation he needed in order to proceed.

As part of the process, Matt went out to the USA and conducted research guided by the UKTI team on the ground in the New York office, which helped him make invaluable contacts. Matt is now planning the next phase of his entry, which is working on setting up a pilot scheme within certain states and education departments.

Sizing Up Opportunities

“What I’ve come to realise with the exporting process is that you learn on the job. You might make mistakes but your learnings might just strengthen what you do in your home market as well. The lessons I have learned along the way have also had positive benefits on the work I do in the UK.”  

“Everyone working for UKTI has been incredibly helpful. They go way beyond the brief.  We still have a long way to go in the US but this process has also made me truly believe there is a huge amount of opportunity for my services in other global markets and I will be embracing these possibilities in the near future. If I could give one piece of advice to entrepreneurs considering export then it would be to pick up the phone to UKTI. What have you got to lose?”

Matt worked with a team of experts from Bristol's engineering and digital sectors to devise ways of teaching computer science in engaging ways to young people.  He organised a series of trials at local schools, including Barr's Court Primary in Longwell Green, to road-test 'Computer Science Unplugged' activities, fun ways to learn the concepts of computational thinking without switching on a computer.  He also produced a set of online resources and videos to help make the new subject accessible to both teachers and pupils.