A fast-growing business which supports schools with a range of professional services has expanded to new premises on Aycliffe Business Park.
Avec Partnership has relocated from Darlington to Aycliffe after acquiring one of the previously vacant units at Parson’s Court, off Welbury Way.
Launched by directors Sarah Monk and Julie Sowerby seven years ago, Avec now provides support to over 50 multi-academy trusts and almost 200 schools, from Northumberland to Yorkshire.
The business and its team has grown significantly year-on-year – new additions in the summer boosted its workforce to 35 – and there are exciting plans to expand further with a new Leeds office, to service Avec’s growing client base further South.
Avec, named after the French word for “with”, provides schools and Academies with a wealth of professional support, from HR, to finance, health and safety and governance services.
Sarah explains: “Schools are becoming more business-like, more autonomous and more independent from local authorities, so they need access to a wider range of skills.
“We have the capacity to help their senior leadership teams by bringing a range of different areas of expertise into place, whether that’s finance, governance, HR, health and safety, commercial and growth, and looking at their ideas around future development.
“Rather than working for schools, we see it as partnering with them, and ultimately it’s all tied into school improvement – improving schools and helping them to do more with less money and achieve their objectives.”
Finance specialist Sarah and HR expert Julie launched Avec in September 2010 after having previously worked together in local authorities.
The firm started out with just the two of them, but by the end of year one they’d already grew their team to eight, which has since more than quadrupled.
And it’s been their valuable understanding of schools, the pressures they’re under and what services they need which has underpinned the business.
“We live and breathe education, it’s what we’ve always done,” says Julie.
“We’re passionate about education and children, supporting schools in giving every child the best experience they possibly can within school – that’s what drives us.
“We’re very aware there’s a constant pressure on schools to improve, and what we do is very high quality and niche, so we combine our experience of working with schools and local authorities with commercial expertise to offer joined-up services to dozens of schools, from very small nursery schools through to 11-school multi-academy trusts.”
Avec relocated from Lingfield Point in Darlington to their new offices in Aycliffe in September.
“We wanted our own space,” says Julie. “We needed better parking facilities and better transport links, because our client base is all over the North-East, from Northumberland down to Halifax in Yorkshire.
“We actually thought it might have been a drag moving out of Darlington, but it really hasn’t been. The facilities on Aycliffe Business Park are great and it’s been fantastic to see so many empty office blocks being filled. It has really gone upmarket over the last couple of years.
“We’re a bit different from a lot of companies on the park – we won’t reap business-to-business work – but it’s nice to be part of the community.”
As well as expanding to Leeds and taking on more staff, Avec have also relaunched their governance service, which gives local people and business owners the opportunity to get involved.
“We’re keen to recruit people from the business park who may be interested in being governors or trustees in some of our clients’ schools,” adds Sarah.
“There is a shortage of necessary skills, so we’ve relaunched the service and we have a new senior partner heading that up with new team members, re-focusing that area of the business due to the changing needs of our clients.”
Those interested in getting involved with Avec Partnership and its school governance service can call the team on 01325 281480 or email [email protected] – or go to avec-partnership.com for more information.