A NORTH-EAST company providing online education tests has been bought by the UK’s largest school assessment firm.

The Test Factory has been acquired by private equity-owned GL Education.

The Northern Echo understands bosses are committed to growing the North-East base, which could deliver new jobs to the region.

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Based at Rainton Bridge South Business Park, in Houghton-le-Spring, Wearside, The Test Factory employs more than 40 staff providing online assessment technology to schools.

The deal with London-based GL Education, which provides millions of assessments to UK schools, was supported by Newcastle business advisers UNW.

Kevin Beales, The Test Factory’s managing director, said: “The GL Education Group is the ideal new investor for our business.

“The company’s experience and knowledge of assessment will help us develop the platform further and importantly, it also shares our vision to continue our growth in both corporate and education sectors.

“We wanted to work with a North-East adviser, but were apprehensive the right skill set didn't exist in this region.

“However, we were impressed by UNW and felt confident they had the right knowledge and skills to best represent us.

“We are delighted with the result and that we were able to keep this deal, which is great news for the North East technology sector.”

Greg Watson, GL Education Group chief executive, said The Test Factory was a welcome addition to the business.

He said: “We were a pioneer of digital assessment in schools a decade ago and our Testwise e-assessment platform is used in more than half of UK schools and delivers two million digital tests globally annually.

“The Test Factory has been a pioneer in developing high-quality e-assessment technology and we look forward to investing in developing that technology even further.

“Its technology and skills will enable us to develop our platform further to support growing volumes, provide an improved experience for pupils and teachers and achieve wider global distribution.”

John Healey, UNW corporate finance senior manager, who advised the Test Factory on the deal along with Newcastle law firm Watson Burton, added: “This is a great example of an innovative North-East company with significant appeal to national and international acquirers.

“Its technology is at the forefront of online assessment, which is a very exciting part of the digital education value chain.”