Interview with Atom Learning co-founder Jake O’Keefe

Tell us a bit about your background

At university, my co-founder, Alex, and I worked as private tutors for a number of large London tuition agencies. Following university, I pursued a career in quantitative trading, while Alex pursued a career in law; we both retained a few, long term tuition clients. Always interested in education and, increasingly disappointed by the quality of service that the majority of large tuition agencies offered, we decided to set up our own tuition agency on the side. The agency proved sufficiently popular to allow us to quit our jobs to pursue careers in education full time: Pembroke Tutors is now one of the largest tuition agencies in London.

How did the idea for Atom Learning come about?

Working in private tuition we became frustrated by the inequality in education provision in the UK and globally: a good private tutor is unaffordable to the vast majority of people and, even at the top end, the quality varies significantly.

Determined to find a way to provide an exceptional education to all students, we realised that the solution must be fully automated, combining sophisticated technology for scale and affordability with teaching materials produced by the UK’s top teachers to standardise the quality.

Following the success of our first product, Atom Nucleus, a low cost alternative to a private tutor, we determined that there was a need for a high quality digital resource to support teachers in the classroom and so built Atom Prime.

What are the key problems you are trying to solve?

From initially approaching education from a private tutor’s perspective, building a resource that can provide all children with an affordable and engaging alternative to a private tutor, our focus has shifted as we have spent more and more time working with schools. We now see empowering teachers as the key to tackling education inequality in the UK and abroad. Key problems that we are trying to solve are:

1.     Reducing teacher workload.

2.     Helping teachers manage mixed ability classes.

3.     Help non-subject specialists e.g. cover teacher quickly offer an effective lesson.

4.      Improving dialogue between parents and teachers to ensure the teacher remains involved and in control of work completed outside of the classroom.

So, what is your vision for the business?

Our goal is to take the very best education and make it available to all children wherever they are in the world and whatever their background. We will achieve this by building an online learning platform, fully integrated across school and home, that combines cutting-edge technology with great teaching.

Where can people find out more about the business?