Striving for improvement in early years education
By Alexandra Maher
Founded in 2016, Storal Learning is a community of day nurseries born from a belief in the power of early years education. The company is growing steadily through acquisition: with five new sites in the last 12 months, it has increased in capacity for children and staff by almost a third.
This growth has been enabled by a laser focus on quality and positive outcomes for children. “Nursery owners looking to sell and exit their business are drawn to the fact that we build on their brand,” CEO Sarah Mackenzie explains. “They pass the baton, trusting that we’re going to enhance their legacy.”
The company’s annual revenue hit £10.4m in 2020, with a 64.88% CAGR placing it at number 51 on the Growth Index of the UK’s 100 fastest-growing companies.
“Getting it right in children’s early years has a hugely positive impact on society, so by nature our work is impact-driven,” explains Sarah. “We’re in such a privileged position. We’re working with children in the most pivotal period of brain development and we’re able to support children to develop the attributes, skills and knowledge that will set them up for success both in school and in life – ready to make their own positive impact on society.”
Sarah argues that Storal’s sense of purpose is far more than a nice-to-have, but rather provides a competitive advantage: “If we pursue our wider purpose with integrity and high standards, it creates a nursery where team members want to work and parents want to enrol their children, and that is the basis of our growth. It’s a virtuous circle.”
There have been times when the drive to grow and increase profits was at odds with the company’s core purpose, and when Storal Learning proved its integrity. “During lockdown there were many instances when it would have been far more cost-effective to close nurseries rather than stay open for key-worker children,” explains Sarah. “But Storal stayed open because the founders wanted to play their part in society at a difficult time. It’s about coming back to the mission and values.”
Looking to the future, Storal Learning is set to sustain its growth by continuing to strive for improvement in the education children receive, not only in their nurseries but also in the community, by being open to suggestions from staff and parents, and maintaining a sense of collective responsibility.
Indeed, since the focus of Storal Learning is on children’s futures, Sarah says that it’s important for them to be environmentally conscious, so they are working on moving to renewable energy, and educating the children on their role in the environment.