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Valenture Institute fuels expansion plans with R114m funding

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Global private online high school Valenture Institute has secured a $7 million (approximately R114 million) funding investment from venture capital firm GSV Ventures.

Launched in September 2019 by edtech entrepreneur Robert Paddock, across three regions – the UK, Boston and SA – Valenture Institute is a globally recognised private institution, offering learners from grade eight to 12 an online-based curriculum recognised by universities worldwide.

It offers four levels of qualifications: Junior High (equivalent of grades eight and nine); the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE, equivalent of grades 10 and 11); International Advanced Subsidiary Levels (equivalent of grade 12); and International A-Levels (post-grade 12).

GSV is a global VC fund focused on supporting early-stage global education technology companies, including Coursera, Photomath, ClassDojo and Masterclass.

With the goal of being the biggest online high school in the world by 2028, Valenture Institute says the investment will fuel to its expansion ambitions as it prepares to set up physical campuses next year.

The school was established as a fully-fledged online offering pre-COVID-19, and the forced shift to nation-wide e-learning models during lockdown has accelerated the school’s growth exponentially.

“The global demand for high-quality online schooling is skyrocketing in the current climate,” says Paddock.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the GSV team, who have already added immense value to our business through their knowledge, connections and strategic guidance. We’re scaling up rapidly, and look forward to working with the GSV team to achieve our goal of becoming the largest and most impactful school on the planet.”

The resources, notes Paddock, will be allocated to the rollout of the school’s hybrid, tech-enabled, boutique campuses, which combine online learning and in-person guidance by learning coaches and additional features of physical spaces.

The school is preparing to open three South African boutique physical campuses in January 2021, in Johannesburg and Cape Town’s southern suburbs of Newlands and Constantia.

Global destinations like London, Boston and New York are also on the cards for the distant future, according to the institute.

Valenture Institute recently formed a partnership with the Western Cape Education Department and edtech company iBhodi Trust, to offer a blended learning schooling model for learners at Beacon Hill High School in Mitchells Plain, Western Cape.

The pupils study an internationally-recognised curriculum, delivered entirely online in a physical classroom set-up, guided by teachers, and supervised by the institute’s support staff.

“The vision was clear: it’s not about their online experience or blended-learning boutique campuses, it’s about evolving education in a way never seen before,” says Deborah Quazzo, managing partner at GSV.

“We back companies that we know have the potential to change the narrative of education. In this case, the Valenture team has the grit, know-how and innovative spirit to change the way we educate all learners around the globe in the future − be that primary, secondary or at tertiary level.”

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