ParentPay acquisition creates UK’s largest edtech business

Mark Brant, CEO of ParentPay

ParentPay Group, the Coventry-based payment platform for schools, has completed its acquisition of Education Software Solutions (ESS) from Montagu Private Equity in a deal that makes the enlarged group the UK’s largest education technology business.

ParentPay started the cashless payment system in schools in 2004.

Following the acquisition of ESS, ParentPay can now offer its customers a wider range of products including SIMS, the UK’s leading education management information system, and ESS  Reading Cloud.

The transaction also marks ParentPay’s entry into the further and higher education sector and libraries, through the acquisition of ESS’ UNIT-e and LMC software solutions.

ParentPay will continue to offer its market-leading payment collection, parental engagement and meal management solutions to schools, their pupils, parents and teachers, and caterers, and expects to expand its customer base, which already covers six million pupils, as a result of this acquisition.

The acquisition is backed by Montagu, which will take a significant minority interest in the ParentPay Group as part of the deal.

Mark Brant continues as CEO, with Clint Wilson and Andrew Neubauer remaining in their roles as group corporate development director and executive chairman respectively.

Mark Brant, Group CEO of ParentPay, said: “Today marks the coming together of ParentPay and ESS, two well-known and established ed-tech businesses with highly complementary products, people and values. Our customers trust us to deliver quality products and services and we maintain and earn that trust by continuing to innovate for them in response to their needs. This deal means that our customers can now look forward to accelerated product development and in due course a seamless integration of ESS and ParentPay products.

“While I am delighted as to what the deal means for our customers, I am equally excited by the career development opportunities it represents for our valued employees. We all have exciting times ahead.”

Edward Shuckburgh, director at Montagu, added: “With complementary products and a shared vision, ParentPay’s merger with ESS will enable the enlarged group to really drive forward innovation to the benefit of its customer base.  We look forward to partnering with them on this journey.”

The deal is the latest in a line of strategic mergers and acquisitions that have, along with strong organic growth, enabled ParentPay Group to establish market-leading positions: Between 2017 and 2021, Schoolcomms, Cypad, WIS in the Netherlands and three school meal and payment management businesses in Germany all joined the ParentPay Group.

In 2016, the group launched nimbl, the pre-paid app and debit card for children and young adults, and in 2018 launched Just Education, its digital platform for supply teachers.

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