Watson Burton advises on major education sector acquisition

ForSkills, which provides online learning resources and diagnostic assessments for Functional Skills qualifications, has been acquired by Newcastle-based national awarding organisation NCFE.

Watson Burton acted on the sale of ForSkills to NCFE and the law firm’s corporate team – including partner Paul Wigham and solicitor Kirsty Adamson –  advised ForSkills shareholders including Myles Ponsonby, Carl Gibson and Jonathan Wells throughout the process.

Founded in 2005, ForSkills offers a range of online resources based on real-world scenarios which help students develop core skills in Maths, English and ICT.

The company, which has offices in Mansfield and County Durham, and works with organisations across the UK, had previously engaged with NCFE on a partnership basis. This enabled NCFE customers to access ForSkills’ diagnostics and interactive learning resources.

Following the acquisition, Myles Ponsonby, executive director of ForSkills, will remain on the management board as the company builds on its previous success.

ForSkills will continue to operate from its existing offices, and the move enables NCFE to provide a full, end to end solution for the Functional Skills market. The acquisition follows on from NCFE’s acquisition of St Albans-based awarding organisation CACHE last year, and is part of its ongoing plans to grow and diversify.

Watson Burton has a high degree of experience – across all of its disciplines – of working in the education sector and acts for number of universities, further education colleges and academies. This included the corporate team, on a transaction led by Paul Wigham, working with Stockton Riverside College on the acquisition of NETA Training Group.

Paul Wigham, partner at Watson Burton, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Myles and the rest of the ForSkills team on the company’s acquisition by NCFE, and supporting them on the next stage of their business journey.

“ForSkills has made a huge impact on the e-learning landscape in a relatively short space of time and its innovative online resources and diagnostic assessments have made a real difference to numerous organisations and students.

“We’re delighted to have drawn on our experience of working on high level acquisitions – and our deep understanding of the education sector – to ensure a successful outcome.”

Myles Ponsonby, executive director of ForSkills, said: “Paul and his team provided exemplary advice and support during the acquisition.

“This exciting new chapter in ForSkills, which follows on from our acquisition of Guroo Limited in 2014, will allow us to continue our growth and become the leading provider of assessments and learning resources in English and maths for post 16 learners.”

Watson Burton, which has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and London, delivers commercial legal services nationwide. Its core practice areas are corporate, employment, real estate, construction and dispute resolution.

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