"improving life chances and social mobility, whether through the delivery of Lexonik in a school in Leeds or a prison in Texas"
Claire Preston, CEO at Sound Training
Sound Training, a North East-based company that provides specialist professional development and teaching resources, is exporting to schools and prisons across the globe, with the support of the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Founded in 2011, Sound Training boosts literacy levels and raises attainment in both children and adults, from the age of nine years and upwards, with remarkable impact.
Its unique range of education programmes includes, Lexonik, which consists of one-hour weekly sessions which are delivered by Sound Training staff or representatives that have completed training by the company. This progamme has been proven to improve literacy levels dramatically over a six-week period, in a wide range of education settings.
Over 5 years ago, the business approached its local DIT International Trade Adviser (ITA) to explore the idea of selling its services overseas. Sound Training and the ITA identified the US market as an initial focus, due to similarities between the US and UK education systems.
DIT supported the business to embark on its first international visit to Denver, then soon after on a trade mission with support from staff in the UK embassy in Boston, Massachusetts. Investigatory pilots of the Sound Training programme were negotiated to generate evidence of impact, which could then be used to stimulate market demand.
Following this success in the US, in 2017, DIT supported the business to attend an education conference in Dubai and subsequent visits have resulted in wider presence in the Middle East. Lexonik is now being used in schools in Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and in the International School of the Year 2018, British School Muscat, Oman.
Sound Training’s team has grown from two people to 70 since 2011 and plans to add another five employees over the next 12 months to support the business’ ongoing export growth strategy.
Claire Preston, CEO at Sound Training, said: “We’re determined to play a part in not only improving educational attainment, but eradicating preventable literacy, both in the UK and further afield. All children should have the opportunity to reach their full learning potential and we explored the international education market as we believed that our programmes could work as well overseas as they do in the UK.
“Our local DIT adviser helped us with market research, giving us the confidence to approach overseas audiences knowing our programmes met their needs and were completely transferable with minimal localistaion.
“Over the next five years, we are planning to focus equally on UK and overseas growth. We will continue to work closely with DIT in new sectors as the networks they’ve helped us to build have been invaluable. You can’t underestimate the power of meeting people face-to-face and without DIT, we wouldn’t have been able to access many of the people who have contributed to our growth.
“We are passionate about helping close the education attainment gap and improving life chances and social mobility, whether through the delivery of Lexonik in a school in Leeds or a prison in Texas. If a business from Middlesbrough can take its services across the world, anyone can.”
David Coppock, Head of Regions, North East at Department for International Trade, said: “Exporting isn’t always about goods, as Sound Training as shown. This is a great example of a service business that has exported successfully and will now help educate people across the world.
“Whether it’s a unique new service, an innovative new piece of technology, or something completely different, DIT has a team on the ground across the North East ready to support businesses on their exporting journey.
“If you think you could benefit from speaking to an International Trade Adviser to explore exporting opportunities, please get in touch with our team today.”