My Startup: ImpactEd

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

ImpactEd is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to improve pupil outcomes and life chances by addressing this evaluation deficit.

The startup works in partnerships across the education sector, addressing the evaluation deficit through a digital platform that makes monitoring and evaluation easy for schools.

The creators of the software felt that, despite investing so much time and money into initiatives and programmes, schools weren't well equipped enough to measure the impact they were having. 

Founded: 2017

Founders: Owen Carter

We spoke to Owen, the Managing Director, to find out the backstory to ImpactEd...

Owen Carter, Founder and Managing Director of ImpactEd

Why did you start ImpactEd? 

Really out of frustration - we felt that schools were investing so much time, money and energy in initiatives and programmes to make a difference, but weren’t well served in being able to assess what impact they were actually having.

Coming from a background of working with schools, I knew that with the pressures faced by teachers on a daily basis, they can really only afford to spend time on the things that were making the biggest difference! So ImpactEd emerged as a way of making this possible.

Tell us more about the software?

The platform grew out of working with an academic research team to look at meaningful and reliable ways to assess impact in schools - on both academic and non-academic outcomes. We aimed to design something that could provide access to well-tested methods, but that could make this into an incredibly intuitive and easy process.

The platform automates data collection, produces live impact reports and makes it simple for busy teachers to test what is working, where. We back that up with a hands-on partnership approach and extensive training, as making change happen in schools can rarely be done through software alone. 

Three things make us distinctive: we’ve been designed from the ground up on an education evidence base; we’re school-led and co-design our approach with teachers; and we take a partnership approach, providing more than technology alone.

Where’s the business at right now?

We are at a really exciting stage. Since launch, we’ve grown quite rapidly, but as a non-profit, we also always have to keep our mission at our centre: helping schools to make better decisions about what is working in their classrooms. Increasingly, that work has been just not within individual schools, but between them.

This includes a partnership with national school groups, such as United Learning, a group serving over 40,000 children, and collaborations with third sector organisations running programmes within schools. For us, the more we can get our school partners collaborating with each other to drive educational improvement the better, and we see this as a really exciting area of development for the future.

What are your aims for the next year? 

Over the next year, we are aiming to do two things really well. The first is to further test and develop our model to apply in a range of different educational settings. We’ve been fortunate to have such strong school backing from day one, but we want to do more work figuring out how our approach can best align with school priorities and apply across a range of contexts from very large urban secondaries to small rural primaries.

The second is around drawing on the data we already have to best share and drive impact across the education system, including for schools we don’t work with. As we build an increasingly large evidence base around the impact of initiatives in context, we need to do more work figuring out how to best share and aggregate this to help improve outcomes more generally.

The ImpactEd user interface

Tell us about your participation in EdTechXEurope.

I think EdTechXEurope is a relatively unique event for its sheer scale, the ambition of its coverage and the international lens it provides. It’s very easy to get submerged completely in the day-to-day. It's great to see what exciting things other organisations are doing and taking some inspiration!

What’s been the hardest thing about getting ImpactEd off the ground?

I think sometimes people underestimate the sheer amount of sweat needed to get something started from nothing. Even with the best supporters in the world, there’s just a huge amount of work to be done in getting a really high-quality organisation off the ground - from hiring to creating processes to developing technology to managing finances. As a founder, I think you have to get good very fast at being a consummate multi-tasker.

Why should more people be using or investing in ImpactEd?

Ultimately because of the impact we’re aiming to achieve! One of the powerful things about our model is that the more schools and organisations we work with, the more informed insights we’re able to draw about what is working where in education, and how to best use that to support improvement.

For us, the beauty is in where individual motivations work together to line up and really support the collective impact.

How much will it cost customers compared to other similar tools? and why is it worth it? 

As a non-profit a substantial proportion of our income comes from grants and other charitable sources, which we use to cross-subsidise cost to our partners. This, along with quite a lean operating model, means that we’re able to offer ImpactEd at a cost that is typically lower than the sum of its parts - which is crucial in these times where education budgets are so limited.

We really see our value as being two-fold. One, for schools we provide a framework and platform to make impact evaluation intuitive, easier, and more effective. But secondly, by making that happen we also enable broader change - helping schools to prioritise their resources only on those things that will make the biggest difference.