Business Matters by Denise Roberts

Couple who’ve made teaching their business

Denise Roberts speaks to John and Rose Small, whose education business is turning both the young and old on to the rewards of learning.

When John and Rose Small set up Learningsure College in 2007, they didn’t seek out a location in one of the most prestigious boroughs in London, but one of its most deprived: Newham.

The couple, who also live in the borough with their two grown daughters, offered IT classes for the elderly, and GCSEs and A Levels for young people. Just two children sat the first exam, held in 2008, but this year there were over 300 pupils sitting exams at the Centre. Among them were people in their sixties… and eight year olds.

“We wanted to bring education to the failing children around here,” said John, who has a background in accountancy and banking. “Many of these pupils had been told by teachers that they would not amount to anything. We gave them a different perspective, and today many are in college and university. We believe that there is no child that cannot learn.”

Today, John and Rose employ about eight full-time staff members. Their students include pupils from other boroughs, such as Southwark and Waltham Forest, and from farther afield, such as Italy and China.

They shared, “Learningsure is different, because our teaching is adapted to each individual child. We don’t only teach but mentor, too. It’s about giving them the confidence to learn by finding the best way that a child learns.”


Both confess there isn’t much money in education, but the satisfaction of seeing children, who have been written off, turned around is a huge reward. “We’ve got them in some of the most prestigious universities in the country, like the London School of Economics, UCL and Cambridge,” said John. “We had a Muslim guy, who felt he did not need to follow the Western education system, and we have managed to turn him around to somebody who is getting A*s in maths, physics, biology and chemistry in less than 18 months.”

Their sense of social action moved them to introduce a Saturday School, and other college courses, like IT courses, teacher training, NVQs and more. “We also realised that a lot of parents who spoke English as a second language couldn’t help their kids with their homework, so we started offering ESOL courses, and started a homework club,” said Rose.

Their sights are now on expanding to reach more students by way of offering e-learning courses, but Rose admits that they couldn’t do it alone. She says God is the inspiration behind the work.

“I started teaching at Sunday School in 2002,” she said. “I knew it was my passion, so went to teacher training school and then did a Masters.”

She adds: “In the early days, when things were taking long to move off, I reminded God that we have a partnership here. He has never let me down. When you look at the foundation, I started in church, where I worked for 15 years. I say it is good to work for God, as He will always reward you greatly.”

“The most important thing is that Rose and myself have been given a lot in life, and we believe sincerely that to whom much is given, far, far, much more is expected,” said John. “I find it more satisfying when, at the end of the day, a child can say, ‘Thank God for this’. It is about contributing to another human’s life.”

Marketplace, exhibition, breakfast and seminar


Business with Excellence will be holding a marketplace ministry day in Croydon on Saturday 29th June, aimed at Christians in business.

The day will include a Marketplace Breakfast meeting, with people sharing their testimonies, an exhibition, a seminar on marketplace ministry, and a question and answer session to conclude the day. Hosted by Sharon McLean, alongside guest speakers, the day will run from 8am to 5pm, and take place at Croydon Park Hotel, Croydon.

For further information, visit

How to increase the chances of your website being found for free

SEO can be expensive, especially if you use an agency, or operate in a competitive area of the market. Then there is Google frequently changing what’s ‘legal’, so that what may have worked previously could now get you removed from their search engines altogether, like having loads of irrelevant backlinks.

Here is what still works, and what you can do for free:

  • Update your content regularly, and include the keywords that people are likely to use when searching for you.
  • Sign up for a keyword analytics service, so you can see how many people are competing for your keywords. You can use Google, but there are others around that offer additional value, like Market Samurai and Searchmetrics.
  • Choose keywords that you stand a realistic chance of being able to compete for.
  • Analytics will also help you to see which keywords people have used to find you, but which you are not including in your site, then, if appropriate, you can tailor your content to appeal to more of these.
  • Tag the images and videos on your website with the keywords, too.
  • Use your keywords in your headers and subheaders, as well as in the body of the content. Try to make use of H1, H2 and H3 size headers.
  • Set up a blog, and contribute to it at least twice a week.
  • Guest blog for others working in a similar or complimentary field.
  • Use your Twitter, Facebook or other social media page to point people back to your website.
    Denise Roberts is founder of Christian Women in Business UK and Loud Voice Communications

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