A Different Way to Learn
For over thirty years, Oxford Learning has been helping to give students of all ages the tools to better process and comprehend the materials they are learning in school. By using cognitive learning techniques, Oxford Learning teaches students how to learn effectively and develop more efficient ways of thinking, concentrating, listening and retaining the information they receive.
Oxford Learning was founded in 1984 in London, Ontario. Operating out of a single learning centre for many years, Oxford Learning began franchising in 1991 with its second location in Burlington, Ontario. Since then, it has enjoyed rapid expansion, increasing its presence in Ontario, across Canada and into the United States, with additional branches in Qatar, Bahamas and Bermuda.
The U.S. division of Oxford Learning has rapidly expanded, though initially it did not experience the same successes as the Canadian division. In an attempt to bolster greater support in the United States market, Oxford Learning Corporate partnered with Minuteman Press to rebrand the U.S. division as GradePower Learning.
With 113 locations in seven provinces across Canada, and 26 locations in thirteen states in the U.S., there are plans to continue growth and expansion in both markets. The primary focus will be on the U.S. where it hopes, with the help of Minuteman, to tap into new markets and grow exponentially. As a result of this partnership, it has tripled the number of centres in the U.S. in only two years.
Oxford Learning not only helps students to achieve better results in school, but encourages cognitive development that will foster a more successful life and help both individuals and families to succeed. To achieve this, training is key, and both franchisees and employees are required to undergo in-depth training in the Oxford Learning System.
The Oxford Learning System consists of a series of manuals, week-long, in-person group training at the Oxford Learning head office, webinars and weekly emails. Training teams complete site visits and follow-up calls to ensure the system has been implemented correctly, and an internal database streamlines operations, giving the head office the ability to monitor each centre’s performance.
Extending beyond the business aspect of what it does, Oxford Learning is known for its efforts to give back to the communities in which it operates. Glenn Whitehead, vice president of Oxford Learning Centres explains that community outreach is a natural extension of the services it offers. Whether it is contributing to a local charity or organization, hosting booths at festivals or other special events or sponsoring local sports teams, Oxford Learning is extremely active in the communities it calls home.
“Helping families doesn’t mean just helping them in school; it means actually caring and being a presence in the communities they grow up in. The families are our community, and being present for them outside the walls of our centres is just as important,” said Whitehead.
Oxford Learning takes a holistic approach to teaching and learning, ensuring that a student’s confidence, capacities and ability to use information are made as important as grades. Each student receives a customized learning program and a support system that will track their progress while improving the overall learning experience.
“Learning isn’t just something that happens in the classroom. A child’s feelings about learning overall will have an impact on their abilities. We want kids to know that learning is about trying and trying again; it’s not wrong to fail, but it is wrong not to try. All kids can learn, no matter what, and we teach our students that,” Whitehead explained.
Every program begins with an in-depth, dynamic, diagnostic assessment that gives insights into a student’s academic standings, their approach to learning and what unique skills he/she possess. After determining the level at which they should begin, a personalized program is created to serve the student’s particular needs.
Customized learning programs are based on proven scientific research and help students to do more than regurgitate information but rather helps them focus on how to understand, integrate and retain new information. Programs teach learning skills that will not only help during the school year, but for the rest of their lives.
Oxford Learning has a number of fully-customizable programs for students of all ages. Little Readers and READ Elite are reading-focused programs geared toward children as young as three to develop a foundation for the fundamentals of reading before beginning first grade. Little Readers is a half-day program offered in the morning or afternoon, and READ Elite is offered in one-, one-and-a-half- and two-hour sessions throughout the day, evenings and is available on weekends.
Beyond Tutoring is designed for elementary school students and continues to focus on the development of foundational reading, writing and math skills while it encourages students to become active thinkers and motivates them in an academic capacity.
Advantage High School Success is a program for teens to help them develop thinking and learning skills. This program also introduces study and organizational skills that will help high school students to manage their workloads and academically prepare them for post-secondary success.
Students in Canada may opt for the En Francais French Program as Oxford Learning offers all of the above programs in French, at all levels of fluency from beginner to those who speak French as a first language. Other specialized programs include the GPA 5.0 and ACT Plus, offered to American and Canadian students preparing to write the U.S. college entrance exams.
Additionally, students can take advantage of Oxford Learning’s twenty-hour summer group programs which include math and study skills or its four-hour workshops that are geared towards teamwork, success and organization. There are also summer programs and English-as-a-second language (ESL) programs.
With its instructional approach called Interactive Coaching, Oxford Learning helps students to be better equipped to take on the daily challenges with which they are faced. The programs develop the capacities to become a stronger, more independent learner who is more confident.
Unlike the progression of curriculum in the school system, success is measured by the demonstration of proficiency in a subject. Oxford Learning ensures that the student comprehends the material and concepts before advancement. Students are to identify their own goals and Oxford Learning will help them achieve these goals, marking progress along the way.
Just as students’ goals vary, so too does Oxford Learning’s definition of success. “For some it’s finishing all their books in their class, for others it’s finishing a single page. Setting goals and making students think actively about them, and what skills they can implement, is one of our teaching and learning objectives,” said Whitehead.
It is not enough for a student to simply complete the work; rather, Oxford Learning wants its students to work meaningfully. “Our primary differentiator is that our programs and our instructional method are developed and implemented using the principles of cognitive development. It’s a theory of cognition that encourages literal changes in how the brain learns and stores information.”
The goal of the company is continued growth and expansion into untapped markets while developing new programs to meet the educational needs of students in ever-changing educational systems. Anyone with business acumen and a passion for student success and a desire to give back to the community through education would be a perfect candidate to franchise. “Just a few hours a week can make a world of difference,” as the website states.
“The Oxford Learning Difference means more than tutoring; it means a life-long change to thinking and learning. It’s not better grades for the next test; it’s better grades for life,” stated Whitehead. With a reputation for developing strong in-house curriculum, Oxford Learning is committed to its students’ success and it has the results to prove it.