The original concept for MagiKats dates back to a college (16+) in Luton in the early 70s. One of our founders, Jan Lomas, was teaching there and found herself working with students who lacked confidence and basic skills, yet had to try and keep up with their courses. She began working with them outside of their regular classes, helping them not only to build their basics, but also to develop good study skills and habits.
Active development of the MagiKats forerunner (Mathamagic), however, did not start until early 2004. Jan was working with school children and found there was a significant demand locally for her to provide help at the times when they especially needed support – which was before SATs (at ages 6, 10 and 14) and GCSEs (at age 16).
It quickly became apparent that these children were very similar in many ways to the students from Luton, in that they lacked basic skills and also the ability to study effectively and think their way through problems. In fact, they demonstrated that there was a need for a programme that directly supported children in the challenges posed every day at school, not just at test time.
When building programmes to support these specific children, Jan recognised the fact that every child has different needs and so she moved towards devising a programme that would be capable of as much variation as the students that it sought to support.
Very quickly, the quantity of different material required to support even these limited numbers of children became hard to manage, so Jan’s husband, Rick, began work on a computer system that could organise the materials Jan was writing, so they could be easily accessed time and time again – the earliest version of today’s ‘KATS’ computer system that is the backbone of our programme.
Moving forwards, Jan and Rick added English as a second subject and began offering support to children throughout their compulsory education years. They were joined by their daughters, Sarah and Emma and the MagiKats system and programme was formally launched in 2005.
Following their success locally, the family found themselves being approached by colleagues and acquaintances from other parts of the UK and overseas, asking if they could emulate the MagiKats approach in their local area. This led to the decision to franchise the business.
Initially, the family used some of these contacts to run with a small number of “pilots”, who tested materials and checked that the system could be replicated by others. The first fully franchised Tuition Centre opened in September 2007 (and is still running today) and there are currently 15 Principals, operating 21 Tuition Centres in the UK, with operations also in the Middle East and Australia.