Pansophic Learning acquires BBD Education – the pioneering management consultancy in the fast-moving GCC market
Pansophic Learning, the large international education operator has acquired BBD Education in the Middle East, as part of its strategy for expanding in the region, through its new entity GSM Middle East (Global Schools Management). The Group educates over 35,000 students across its schools and nurseries in the US, UK, Switzerland and Uganda and the acquisition of BBD positions the group across the MENA region with an experienced and expert management team, already in-place. Within its Charter School network in the USA, it educates over 23,000 students across five different states. Within the UK, it owns the Auro Academies Trust, and educates over 2000 students. The Group also owns the high performing Swiss Private School, The International School of Berne (IS Berne) which was established in 1961 and it delivers the International Baccalaureate (“IB”) and has established itself as a leading school in Switzerland.
The Founder and CEO of Pansophic Learning, Ron Packard is a visionary, global educator and entrepreneur who was previously the long-time CEO and Founder of K12 Inc. He oversaw the growth of K12 from just an idea to almost one billion in revenue, making it one of the largest education companies in the world. Ron has received the Education Industry Association’s James P. Boyle Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, as well as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the IT Services & Solutions category in Greater Washington. Ron has been featured on nationwide radio and television shows and magazines, including Bloomberg TV, Forbes, and the Washington Post to name a few. He holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, both with honors. The Middle East is now a key priority for the Group’s growth, and the Group is targeting private sector expansion, and also government sector projects through the Public Private Partnerships in the region.
BBD Education is a management and consulting business, set up in 2012 by Professor Ralph Tabberer to pioneer professional educational services for the emerging schools’ markets in the GCC. It has won licenses for, and established, more international schools in the GCC region than any of its competitors. Expert staff cover all features of school operations: academics, financials, facilities management, school design, procurement, HR and recruitment, admissions and student services. Recently, BBD has worked with the leading schools in the region; opened new schools and expanded its client base in Singapore, Indonesia, China, Canada and north Africa; and taken the lead in generating innovative designs for ‘schools-for-the-future’. BBD has also worked extensively with governments across the region and most recently with the Ministry of Finance in Oman as part of their Public Private Partnership initiative.
The CEO and Founder of Pansophic Learning, Ron Packard commented on the acquisition “The Middle East is a growth region, and the acquisition of BBD sets us towards a pathway of growth. As an organisation, have delivered education on multiple continents, through multiple mediums, and it is our intention to continue this through the MENA region. We’re very excited about the future, and we know the team at BBD has the local skills and knowledge to deliver the growth that we want.”
Ralph Tabberer, owner or BBD Education commented “The tie-up with Pansophic is perfect for BBD. From day one, they will add insights, experience, investment funds and a cutting-edge online learning platform to our management and consulting business. This means that, together, we can offer even better services to the schools and operators who have worked with us for years and who have helped us to build a great education network throughout the GCC and beyond. I am more excited than at any point in my career about the opportunity to work with Ron Packard and his stellar team, so that we can ensure that education realises its full potential in transforming young people’s lives.”
Professor Ralph Tabberer was previously Director-General of Schools for the UK government and, between 2009 and 2012, he was COO and CEO with GEMS.
Shaun Robison, CEO of BBD Education in the Middle East said “The BBD team has keenly anticipated this move. This allows us to supercharge growth in several verticals across the region, and put in cutting-edge tools that will empower teachers and students, and ultimately, raise student achievement across the Middle East. Over the last three years, we have expanded into Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and the demand for our services has increased ten-fold due to the growth of international education. Where governments and school owners want transformative management and new solutions, we now have a full range of end-to-end solutions. We look forward to further announcements in the coming months”
The Middle East region has been quick to recover from the pandemic, with schools recognising they have added capabilities in digital learning due to the crisis. The region remains the fastest moving in the world in terms of the growth of international schools. Expansion is already back under way because of the welcoming and mature regulatory environment that has been built, first in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha and now, in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia’s leading cities.
About BBD Education
BBD Education is an education management company based out of the United Arab Emirates. BBD supports, advises, and guides investors, developers, school operators and regulators across the Middle East, India and Singapore. It has worked with most of the largest schools groups globally – it guided the GCC opening of a school for the largest group, Beaconhouse in 2017. It works with UK, US, IB, Indian and Arab curricula. and with schools at fee points ranging from #3000 a year to #20,000 a year.
Ralph Tabberer is an expert educator with more than 35 years experience in the school sector, in higher education and in government. He was Director General of Schools in England between 2006 and 2009, a post where he was responsible to PM Tony Blair for the development and performance of 23,000 primary, secondary and special schools in the UK.
Ralph left the UK civil service in 2009 and moved to the Middle East to join the international private school operator, GEMS as COO, CEO and Chief of Schools. In 2012, after a highly successful period steering GEMS through the recession and preparing it for further growth, Ralph established the first of his own businesses.
Ralph is renowned as an education leader who is steeped in classroom practice. As a former teacher and researcher into how children study and learn, he has expertise in curriculum, pedagogy, student assessment, teacher development and the new technologies. As a former regulator of one of the world’s largest national systems, he is often in demand not only as a business leader but also as a governmental adviser; recently he has supported the UAE, Bahrain and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In the last 2 years he has co-authored reports on low-cost schools in Africa and Asia, and on the expansion of international schooling globally. He is bringing some of the world’s leading schools to the GCC.
Ralph is a graduate of Cambridge University and a qualified teacher. In the New Years Honours list of 2009, Her Majesty The Queen invested Ralph as a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) in recognition of his services to teacher training and to schools. He is a visiting professor at the Institute of Education, University College of London and an Honorary Professor at Warwick University.
Shaun Robison is an entrepreneurial, senior education leader who has extensive experience of the MENA education sector. With an established reputation for delivering results, both commercial and education, Shaun is a one of the MENA region’s senior most education leaders. Shaun has worked with The Executive Council of Dubai, the Abu Dhabi Department of Knowledge, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the UAE Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Lusail City Real Estate Development Company in a range of contexts.
Shaun has successfully built BBD Education as a management consultancy across the region, delivering projects in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ahmedabad, Jakarta, Egypt, Doha, Riyadh, and Pakistan.
Shaun was previously Head of School Development at Sobha Investment, overseeing the openings of Hartland International School and North London Collegiate School, Dubai. Prior to this, Shaun worked as the Head of Teacher Training and School Improvement across public and private schools for a leading UK operator. Shaun holds a PhD in Education from Newcastle University, and is a regular contributor to the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye Radio.
About Pansophic Learning
Pansophic Learning is a pioneering education operator positioned at the leading edge of transformation, to inspire and nurture each child to achieve their potential. Across our schools, we provide high quality education which inspires students to discover their talents, develop a passion for lifelong learning, and acquire skills to succeed.
The Key People
Ron Packard is the CEO and Founder of Pansophic Learning, a global technology based education company. Ron is a well known educator, entrepreneur and visionary as well as the author of the highly regarded and reviewed book Education Transformation. Ron was previously the long time CEO and Founder of K12 Inc. He oversaw the growth of K12 from just an idea to almost one billion in revenue, making it one of the largest education companies in the world. During his tenure, revenue compounded at near 80%. Before K12, Ron was the Vice President of Knowledge Universe and CEO of Knowledge Schools, one of the nation’s largest early childhood education companies. He was also instrumental in the successful investments in Learn Now, Children’s School USA, Leapfrog, TEC, and Children’s Discovery Center.
Ron also worked for McKinsey & Company and for Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions. Ron has received the Education Industry Association’s James P. Boyle Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, as well as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the IT Services & Solutions category in Greater Washington. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business named him a Distinguished Alumni, and he also received an Outstanding Leadership Award from the United States Distance Learning Association. He sits on the Digital Learning Council.
Ron previously served on the Department of Defense’s Education Advisory Committee. Ron has been featured on nationwide radio and television shows and magazines, including Bloomberg TV, Forbes, and the Washington Post to name a few. He holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, both with honors.
- The Adani International School Ahmedabad
BBD Education supported the Adani Group to set up their first international school in Ahmedabad, India. BBD supported with the design, marketing, feasibility, and governance arrangements. The school follows the IB Curriculum and caters for India’s growing appetite for international education.
- Al Salam Community School Dubai Opening
BBD Education has worked with Al Salam Community School to design, and manage all aspects of the opening project over a 24-month period. The school opened in September 2019 with 850 children. BBD raised 110 million AED for the client who needed a ‘PropCo’ partner. BBD was responsible for the entire project scope. Post-opening, BBD continued to advise the client who achieved ‘Good’ in their first DSIB inspection in 2022.
- Lippo Group, Jakarta
Lippo Group is one of Asia’s largest and most diversified conglomerates, and Indonesia’s largest services group. It owns a number of schools in Indonesia. BBD conducted a Group benchmarking strategy to strengthen the schools’ performance, systems, strengths and areas for development.The exercise was designed to build a strong evidence base that could be used to consider and refresh the schools’ Future Strategy.
- The Ministry of Finance, Muscat
The Ministry of Finance, Oman sought advice for Phase 1 of its Public Private Partnership programme, where a number of existing school buildings will be redeveloped and issued to the private sector, along with a new digital strategy for the country. BBD was appointed as the Lead Education Consultant for the project, and provided advice and school modelling. The project has now moved to Phase 2.
- Private Education Group Egypt
BBD Education was appointed by a medium sized private equity group from Africa to evaluate two school assets in Cairo, Egypt. BBD provided advice on the academic standards and operations, and an assessment of the commercial opportunities, whilst providing summary recommendations on the business outlook and value creation plans.
- Lycée Libanais Francophone Privé Dubai
Lycée Libanais Francophone Privé Muhaisnah is one of the oldest French speaking schools in Dubai. BBD supported them to move to their new campus in Meydan, whilst navigating the regulations, and increasing their tuition fees. BBD successfully gained an education permit for the French Curriculum during the process, and supported the school to open with 400 students, whilst 600 remained at the existing site. The school now thriving, with over 1300 students in attendance.
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