How Sheffield-based Twinkl has added 300 new members to its team during pandemic

In the series ‘Inspiring Growth’ Greg Wright, in association with Top 100 UK law firm Ward Hadaway, talks to the companies bringing jobs and investment to Yorkshire.

Members of the team at Twinkl
Members of the team at Twinkl

The articles, conceived and commissioned by the Leeds-based law firm celebrate entrepreneurialism, and shine a spotlight on business success.

A fast-growing Yorkshire-based company has played a major role in ensuring thousands of children continue to receive an education during the pandemic.

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Sheffield-based Twinkl is an international publisher of educational resources created by teachers. The provider is the 16th fastest growing firm in the 2021 Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 which recognises the most profitable, privately owned companies in Yorkshire.

The publisher has delivered remote lessons on behalf of schools to support parents, created a Home Learning Hub which provides detailed timetables and lesson plans and offered mentoring initiatives for teachers.

“We’re a mission-led business driven not by our balance sheet but rather a genuine purpose to create a positive social impact,” said Twinkl’s Chief Operating Officer David Angrave .

“Our mission is to help those who teach by providing them with what they need to fulfil their role. So that’s essentially any educator - for example a teacher, a parent or a childminder - who has an influence on a person’s learning journey.

“We want to help our customers and support them, no matter what. We want to see them do well - that’s more important to us than profit. If you lead with wanting to do good, with a clear and powerful purpose to help those who need it, success and growth will follow.”

Twinkl was founded by Jonathan and Susie Seaton, a solicitor and early years teacher respectively. Frustrated by the lack of cost effective and accessible educational resources available to teachers, they started creating their own.

A decade later Twinkl provides more than 730,000 teaching and learning materials in 200 countries and regions with new provisions added daily. The company has also established a business accelerator - TwinklHive - which supports founders with a mission to scale and disrupt the technology sector.

Before the pandemic hit, Twinkl was already providing thousands of learning materials to classroom teachers, home educators and parents. When schools and colleges closed the demand intensified.

“The biggest change was the surge in demand globally, at once. Not just from teachers unable to teach from their classrooms but from parents too,” continues Mr Angrave. “Because the business is based on our desire to help and support as best we can, the first thing we did was to provide free access to every user. We did this because it was the right thing to do.

“No trials, no mandatory sign up after a certain number of days. Simply free access to whatever resource an educator needed. We could have aggressively monetised the opportunity Covid presented but we didn’t. It was our time - and our chance - to help those who teach.”

Putting purpose before profit has certainly paid off. Over the last three years, the company has grown 40 to 50 percent year-on-year. In the last 12 months alone, Twinkl has added 300 new members to its team.

Nathan Bilton, a managing associate at Ward Hadaway. who works with a number of clients in the educational technology (EdTech) sector, believes Twinkl is a shining example to other businesses that demonstrates how success, and growth, can be achieved through a purpose-led business model.

He added “Twinkl has achieved incredible growth over the past decade, and particularly in the past 12 months. With a constant focus on the company’s wider social impact, it’s renowned for delivering first class educational resources used by millions worldwide.

“It shows that a scalable, responsive and adaptable business can be built and continue to grow by making an impact that matters.”

"Twinkl exemplifies how businesses can excel by understanding and delivering on their purpose. Those who do so create a more engaged workforce, attract a wider customer base and, ultimately, grow.”

Mr Angrave added: “If you devote your time to genuinely helping people and seeking to add value to their lives then you win every time.

"This ethos not only encapsulates what Twinkl represents but I see it in other Yorkshire businesses too. I think the region’s business community has an impact focused mindset. By that, I mean businesses are collaborating rather than competing.

“Yorkshire businesses are committed to working together towards a common goal with shared values. And that’s why the region is such a thriving, innovative hub for progressive companies. When you focus on having a great mission, you can achieve great things. We seek to do good, solve real pain points and add true value. That’s how we grow.”

Ward Hadaway operates from three offices in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle and has more than 450 members of staff and 85 partners.

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