In 1998, the directors of the Group, Selva and Tharshiny Pankaj, began teaching A-Level students at their dining room table at their house in Harrow.
Within these sixteen years, that teaching around a dining table evolved into the well-known educational group that it is today, Regent Group, providing educational services to babies of two years old, adults of fifty and everyone in between. The story of metamorphosis from egg to butterfly is as follows.
In 2000, Selva and Tharshiny Pankaj, inspired by their previous experiences of teaching, opened up Regent Independent School & Sixth Form College in Harrow, offering GCSE and A-Level courses. The College was seen as something new and different as it offered small-group style teaching, quite dissimilar to other schools and colleges in the local area.Parents were attracted to the small class sizes, knowing that their son or daughter would receive significant time and attention from the teacher, and that their child’s progress would be closely monitored. Early GCSE and A-Level results proved pleasing, which attracted more families in turn and the College attracted more and more students each year. Eventually, the College outgrew its existing premises and re-located down the road to a much larger building, with more facilities, where it remains to this day. At present Regent College Independent School & Sixth Form Collegehas just under a hundred students on a variety of programmes. Many students come to us because we offer unique intensive programmes at both GCSE and A-Level which allows students to devise a programme of study specifically suited to their own needs. This approach has allowed us to support over 1,000 students to go on to reputable universities, notably, an increasing number to the Russell Group each year.
The College continues to flourish welcoming students, from state schools, grammar schools and independent schools alike, who are all looking for a slightly different and special experience. We frequently refer to ourselves as ‘problem solvers.’ Though some parents come to Regent Independent School & Sixth Form College as a first choice, many come with their son or daughter, having not considered us as an option originally, but finding that they are looking for something that a traditional school cannot provide. We are sympathetic, flexible, accommodating and willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Over the years, there have been countless students that we have ‘turned around.’ One such recent student whom we shall never forget was Vinu. Vinu joined us from a local school with a whole host of bad habits ingrained, he continued to hang around with a questionable set of friends outside of school and his studies naturally suffered. His attendance was terrible and his commitment to his studies non-existent. One day, our then Co-Principal, Tharshiny Pankaj, sat him down for a very long chat about his disappointing attitude. From then on we saw a completely different Vinu. He attended every day, handed in his homework and was even known to chastise other students when they spoke out of turn to teachers. We were delighted when he received his results in August and in September 2013 went off to Coventry University to study Aviation Management. Sometimes, it’s simply the change of environment that we offer that instigates the improvement. Another student, Shiv had gained very average grades of CCE, he happily left us one year later with BBB.
Last autumn we were pleased to see students progress to some of the top universities including Queen Mary’s, Kings, Birmingham and UCL studying a wide range of subjects, from Accounting to Engineering. However, we deem success with a student is not always down to a student’s university destination. We try our very best to nurture and support each student during their time with us, encouraging them to reach their own personal goals. Indeed this is reflected by our school motto: ‘The End of Education is Character.’
One such example of this is our GCSE student Lauren. Lauren attended a local school and had started upon her GCSE course when a very traumatic event occurred with her parents resulting in severe mental and psychological ramifications for her. The school was unable to cope with the situation and she ended up leaving school and spent time having treatment for her resultant mental health issues. After a period of time, Lauren embarked upon another course at another college but it did not go to plan. It was suggested that she visit Regent to see if she might feel confident to take a GCSE English and Maths course here. Fortunately, she took a brave step and started off the course. It has not been easy and there have been times where Lauren has struggled to cope with her studies, and periods when her health issues have swept everything else aside, but with the warm and close atmosphere at the College and extra efforts from her teachers, perseverance on her own part and close monitoring from the College team, she has managed to complete the year and sat the exam just recently, a feat, no-one would have thought possible a year ago. It is most rewarding to help a young lady, who has, at no fault of her own, had significant obstacles thrown in her path, succeed.
Whilst our school and college has grown substantially over the years, interest from parents led us in 2002 to open Regent Learning Centre, a tuition centre offering a wide range of supplementary educational programmes including Maths, ICT and English tuition for primary and junior children, Maths, English, Science, and ICT for students in Key Stages 3 and 4 and private tuition for our GCSE &A-Level students. We also offer a popular programme for parents preparing their child to sit exams to enter independent schools at 4+, 5+, 7+ and 11+ and those looking to sit the highly competitive grammar school entry exams. One such student was Nandini, sitting the 4+ at a range of the top independent schools in the area. Her parents were thrilled when she was offered a place at five schools.
RLC has also been very busy this year, working alongside a couple of our local secondary schools providing tuition to their students via the pupil premium. We are also excellent at dealing with students who have special needs, such as Lewis who joined us for some one-to-one tuition in English. Lewis did not find English easy as he had limited vocabulary and difficulty in remembering new words and could not proof read his work because he could not see his own errors. However, with persistence and dedication to his work, sometimes repeating work three times, and the support of his tutor, he learnt one new strategy a week, such as checking his spellings backwards, to allow him to complete an English Language GCSE paper.
As part of the Group expansion Regent Nursery School was opened in 2004 providing childcare and early education to children aged two to five. Regent Nursery School has had a very busy year. We have had the nursery revamped, re-decorated and introduced new equipment. The children have enjoyed exploring all the new resources and they have certainly helped to enhance the children’s learning.
As a strategic measure, we divided the age groups; the younger children (2-3 years) are now using the space downstairs, the older children (3-5 years) are now solely using the upstairs space. Parents are very pleased with the decision to divide the age groups, as they feel that the younger children will benefit from their own space and it allows us to provide more age appropriate activities in the space provided.
The nursery is also working towards an accreditation with the Pre-School Learning Alliance; this accreditation encourages everybody (parents, children and staff) to contribute towards goals that we have identified as further ways to improve the nursery.
In line with governmental healthy eating initiatives and a growing public awareness of the importance of nutrition in developing minds and bodies, the nursery has decided to introduce a new healthy eating scheme in the nursery. At present children bring in packed lunches, the contents of which we are only partially able to influence. The new company we shall be working with will deliver, hot, fresh, healthy, well balanced and appetising lunches to our youngsters. This will simultaneously help our parents by removing one daily task from their busy schedules.
In 2010 Regent Group opened up its Higher Education division in response to demand from some of our A-Level students at Regent Independent School & Sixth Form College. Some students decided that instead of taking a traditional academic route on to university, felt that they wanted to pursue something more vocational. Thus it was that we decided to offer higher education programmes and we now run six Edexcel HND in Business programmes with various specialities available at our new site in Wembley Park. This year has been one of great growth, having seen the second year of significant growth in new students, and successive events at the College. Most notably, the College has been through three quality assurance checks including the Quality Assurance Agency’s Review for Educational Oversight process, Edexcel’s Annual Monitoring Visit and Edexcel’s Standards Verifier inspection all of which it has passed with flying colours, receiving many commendations on the standards of provision and the care shown for its 1,000 students.
In early 2014, Regent was approved to enter the Skills Funding Agency’s (SFA) Register of Training Organisations. This meant we were able to tender for contracts directly from the SFA or act as a sub-contractor. Regent Skills Training, as this division has been named, has very recently passed a due diligence check and been offered a sub-contract for funding via 24+ loans from long-term industry experts, 5E. We are most excited to be embarking upon this project under the guidance of such an experienced partner and to learn much more about the sector. We are planning to offer Edexcel Level 3 and 4 qualifications and look forward to taking our first batch of students shortly. Regent Skills Training has also been invited to take a sub-contract from other FE providers.
Regent Group is also sponsoring our public trust’s (Innovation Academies Trust) first school: Gateway Academy. Gateway Academy is a secondary school due to be located in Brent with four principles of global citizenship, academia, the arts and enterprise underlying its provision with a strong focus on British values. We aim to turn out articulate, confident and well-rounded individuals. The school was originally due to open in September of 2014 and we had garnered significant parental support but the school is now deferred until September 2015 as regrettably, the DfE was unable to secure a site in time.
Regent Group is diverse and very busy. Our current turnover is £7 million. We anticipate a projected turnover of £9 million for this academic year. We have, over the years, also grown a large staff team, currently over 150 individuals and value greatly their dedication, effort and care for Regent. To this end, we are in the process of introducing a performance related remuneration scheme to incentivise staff. Looking ahead we have many potential projects in the pipeline including the Regent English Academy aimed at providing key literacy skills, the Regent Leadership Academy and investment management projects in the education sector.
We believe Regent Group is unique. There are many businesses that start small and expand, but it is relatively rare that with time, an entity will grow to provide services which can span a complete educational life cycle of one individual. Further, it is rare that one sees a business that deals directly with, not only customers, but also other businesses and government functions. We have seen students join us as children and leave, years later, having moved through our different divisions, all the while, changing, developing and blossoming into fully fledged adults and it is such experiences and indeed such privileges that makes us feel proud to play such an important part of another human being’s life…