We sit down with Dhruv Patel, CEO of The Nisai Group, to reflect on 2017 and give us an insight into what we can expect in the future. Five exhibitions, one ‘Good’ Ofsted Inspection and an independent school – it’s been a busy year for The Nisai Group.
While the company continues to expand at home in the UK and internationally in regions like the Middle East and Asia, the man who founded and built Nisai continues to hold the reins.
A lot has happened to Nisai this year, what is on your highlight reel?
At the top of my highlight reel would be the Ofsted inspection that we have just been able to announce. The Nisai Virtual Academy is a ‘Good’ provider, and that is a game-changer for us. In September we acquired Lammas School, a private school based in Sutton-In-Ashfield. Lammas is an incredible opportunity for us, not only because it allows us to enter the affordable private education market but also because of our ambitions for Lammas internationally.
One of the current trends in education globally has been transformative learning and inclusivity, which we have been pioneering for years. As a result, I have been able to attend and speak at multiple conferences on the effectiveness of Nisai’s approach and how it ties in so well with UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal for inclusive education. In the UK, we have been able to voice our expertise and experiences on the numerous challenges students are facing to access education. I’ve been privileged to host multiple webinars with GlobalNET21 addressing and offering solutions for these issues and highlight cases of unlawful exclusions.
The Nisai Skills Academy has had an excellent year, with CEO Professor Daniel Khan OBE, attending multiple conferences and gaining various awards in recognition of his work as a thought leader, including a prestigious EDUTECH Global Leadership Award at the World Education Congress. In the spring, the NSA included on RoATP – a register for apprenticeship providers, and again, we are the first of our kind to be listed!
When the NVA was graded ‘Good’, what did you first think?
About time! I have always felt that we were excellent, but we are glad to receive that recognition. I think we are the only online school in the UK to have an OFSTED grade and to achieve a ‘Good’ in our first inspection validates the quality of our provision. If you read the report, it accurately highlights how unique Nisai is. One of the phrases that stood out to me is: “Leaders and managers have successfully established their vision of providing high-quality online learning so that students can learn from their homes.”
How do you think this will affect the company?
We think it will affect not only the company but also the country in a very positive way. OFSTED have shown that we have the learner’s interests at heart and that we’re continually striving for excellence. For schools and Local Authorities who don’t work with us, they should be asking why.
Internationally, OFSTED is known as the marker of high-quality British Education and achieving a ‘Good’ adds another level of quality in online learning that is only available at Nisai.
How do you see Lammas School becoming part of the Nisai family?
Lammas is already a significant part of our family. It is a school with its own history, and its nurturing student-focussed ethos is entirely in line with Nisai’s. We have grand plans for the physical site in Sutton and for the international element which we hope to expand on next year. Internationally, Lammas will allow students to access a private education at an affordable rate in countries where that isn’t available.
You’ve spent a lot of time travelling internationally; do you have any exciting projects lined up?
I’ve been fortunate to spend time focussing on our international goals, and that has been incredibly interesting for Nisai and me. We now have students joining us from all over the world, including in the Middle East and Thailand. We also have multiple projects underway in the Philippine for young people who have dropped out of education, and we are partnering with an organisation in India to provide skills training there locally. Suffice to say we have a number of things happening!
What were the most challenging periods of the year?
It’s been an incredibly busy and demanding year, so I would have to say managing our resources and building our infrastructure to meet those demands. We have a great team here, and I have complete trust in their abilities and potential to handle every need.
Nisai recently went through a rebranding, why?
As an organisation, we’ve evolved over the last 21 years, and we wanted to reflect that process and prepare for the future. We’re now incredibly multifaceted and continue to expand our offerings as an education and skills provider. As an organisation, we had to think about whom we were now and where we want to be for the next 20 years; rebranding and repositioning ourselves reflects that evolution.
What do you look forward to most next year?
For The Nisai Group as a whole, I look forward to increasing the number of young people joining us. We were contacted recently by a previous student of ours who has just graduated from university, achieved a first class degree in Law and is ready to make an impact in the world. That is why we are passionate about what we do. The more accessible we can make education for youngsters who are dropping out, the better we will all be.
I’m excited to see the company continue to expand nationally and internationally. We have multiple projects in the pipeline, and it would be great if we could have 2 or 3 Lammas schools abroad by this time next year!
I’m also excited to see the team within Nisai continue to grow. We’ve invested in developing and coaching internally and building on the talents of those within Nisai.
Anything exciting coming up that you can tell us?
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