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Cognita acquires Ardmore via its Active Learning division

The new year brings news of another acquisition in the global education space: this time, major schools business Cognita, via its Active Learning Group division, has acquired Ardmore Language Schools, a veteran junior summer program business which has operations in both the UK and US.

Ardmore acquired by CognitaMartin Corr, MD; David Walker, ex-owner of Ardmore, with Nigel Miller of Active Learning Group at the HQ in Berkshire, UK. Photo: The PIE News

The dedicated focus on junior provision made the acquisition a good fit for ALG

The deal represents a perfect alignment of Cognita’s schools business, ALG’s SuperCamps business which targets British children and Ardmore’s drive to ensure interaction and global learning for its international student clients, observed Martin Corr, MD of Ardmore Group.

“We’ve got a very exciting growth plan for the business”

“I think the thing that we’re seeing more and more of is the desire for integration with native speakers and I think that’s where the link with SuperCamps and also Cognita Schools’ wider areas is the real opportunity,” he told The PIE News

“People love the international mix [we offer] and the fact that they do all speak English together but having that opportunity to integrate with native speakers is a driver and I think some of the products we’ll be launching over the next few months will be aligned with that.” 

Founder and vendor, David Walker, who set up the business in 1984, told The PIE that he felt Cognita – with 71 schools in eight countries – was the perfect fit to take his business into a new growth phase.

Ardmore Group, which comprises 19 summer centres in the UK and 8 in the US, will be run by Corr supported by fellow directors Oliver Smith in the US and Penny O’Connor in the UK.

The business which serves 14,000 students per year will be part of the ALG division, led by Nigel Miller, which also includes The Bushcraft Company and Camp Wilderness.

Miller underlined that education agents would remain central to Ardmore’s business model.

“It’s ALG’s intention to continue and strengthen those relationships, and I think it’s an opportunity for agents because there are more products to look at that could have an international flavour,” he said.

And Walker emphasised, “Without agents, there would be no Ardmore. It is thanks to agents that Ardmore has had the growth it has enjoyed and the fun and pleasure I’ve had working in this business is all down to agents, so I’d like to thank them.”

Ardmore Group also includes a division which offers educational school tours in 32 countries for British children aged 11-18 as well as a high school integration programs for international clients.

“It is thanks to agents that Ardmore has had the growth it has enjoyed”

The dedicated focus on junior provision made the acquisition a good fit for ALG, noted Miller.

We’ve got clean businesses that focus on a similar demographic, albeit in an entirely different international mix,” he said, noting that Ardmore’s outbound travel business can tap into the Cognita network and clients while its high school integration programs can likewise work with the network.

“In terms of some of the school integration programs that Ardmore has, there is is a real opportunity for us,” said Miller.

“We’ve got a very exciting growth plan for the business over the next three to five years.”

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