RM Education

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RM Education
Traded as LSERM.
Industry Computer hardware
Computer software
IT services
Founded 1973
Founder Mike Fischer and Mike O'Regan
Headquarters Milton Park, UK
Area served
Key people
John Poulter, Chairman; David Brooks, Chief Executive Officer; Iain McIntosh, Chief Financial Officer
Products Desktops
Educational software
Virtual Learning Environment
Revenue Decrease£203 million (2014)
Number of employees
1,870 (2014)
Subsidiaries RM Education Ltd, SpaceKraft Ltd, TTS Group Ltd, RM Education Solutions India Pvt Ltd
Website http://www.rm.com/

RM Education is a British company that specialises in providing Information Technology products and services to educational organisations and establishments. Its key market is UK education including schools, colleges, universities, government education departments and educational agencies. It also sells educational software in the United States.

RM Education employs around 1,800 people, the majority based in the company's headquarters located on Milton Park, near Didcot, Oxfordshire. RM also has offices across the UK and in North America and a software development facility in India.[1]


The company was founded in 1973 as "Research Machines" in Oxford, England by Mike Fischer and Mike O'Regan, respectively graduates of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Initially it traded under the name Sintel as a mail-order supplier of electronic components, mainly dealing with the hobbyist market.

With the arrival of microcomputer chips in the mid-1970s, the company expanded into the design and manufacturing of microcomputers. The company shipped its first computer in 1977[2] to a customer in a Local Education Authority and has been involved with educational computing ever since.

By the time the United Kingdom government was encouraging the use of computers in schools through the Microelectronics Education Programme. The company's early and dominating presence in educational computing meant they were the natural choice as the founders and key partners in the project[citation needed]. RM Education were praised by UK Ministers for being responsible for putting computers into every UK primary school[citation needed]. Throughout the 1980s the company, with its Z80-based RML 380Z, and Cambridge-based rivals Acorn Computers provided computers to the majority of schools in the UK.

The company was invited to tender to supply the BBC microcomputer[3] but declined on grounds that it was not economically feasible to provide so many features at such a low price and to such a tight schedule.[4][5][6]

The company floated on the London Stock Exchange in November 1994 under the name RM plc.

Mike Fischer was Chief Executive of the Group until 1997, when Richard Girling took over. Girling retired in 2002 after RM had been affected by the dot com boom and bust and was replaced by Tim Pearson who left in 2008. Both Girling and Pearson had long careers with RM before being appointed Chief Executive. Long careers are a feature of RM - Pearson having joined the company as a technical support engineer straight from university in 1981. His PA served in that role for both Fischer and Girling. In October 2008 Terry Sweeney took over the role of CEO having joined RM in 1998.[7] He lasted in the role until October 2011, when the RM Board was re-structured, the existing non-executive chairman Martyn Ratcliffe taking over as Executive Chairman and long-term RM employee Rob Sirs (21 years) taking up the position of Group Managing Director.[8]

The company also won the contract for KS3 ICT tests. These were innovative on-line tests that provided a virtual PC office environment for students. Very late in the day, the government scrapped the tests.[9]

Cuts in the budgets of UK educational establishments in 2011 damaged RM's revenues, leading it to shed hundreds of employees and sell less profitable parts of its business.[10][11]

In October 2013 RM announced that it would cease production of computers, which would entail 300 redundancies.[12]

UK operations[edit]

RM Education classifies its UK business into three market areas which each have their own broad focus:[13]

Learning technologies[edit]

The main ICT division of RM Education that deals with technology infrastructure, software and services - including learning platforms, interactive classroom equipment, computer systems, connectivity, networking software, school management software and support services.

Educational resources[edit]

The division that focuses on curriculum products designed to make classroom learning fun, motivational and effective.[citation needed] In order to grow this element of their business RM has made a number of acquisitions in recent years which include:

  • DACTA Ltd - the sole pan-European distributor for LEGO Education and TOLO Education products and distributes BRIO Education in Central and Southern Europe. Which it sold in 2012.[14]
  • ISIS Concepts Ltd - a UK furniture manufacturer. Which it sold at a loss in 2012.[15]
  • SpaceKraft Ltd - Developer and manufacturer of a range of sensory products
  • TTS Group Ltd - supplier of special-purpose educational and classroom resource.

Assessment and data[edit]

Deals with the process management and outsourcing for testing and qualifications; data analysis services for teachers, education managers and policy makers. Notable clients include Cambridge Assessment and the International Baccalaureate.[16]

International operations[edit]

From the mid-1990s the company expanded overseas, with international revenues rising to 12% of the total group's revenue in 2009.[17] A contraction in customer spending in RM's core UK education market and slow growth in the overseas businesses prompted it to divest several of them from 2010.


In 1994 the company established a subsidiary in Soest, Germany, in order to sell a localized version of RM Net LM, a turnkey Local Area Network product for schools, consisting of file-servers running Microsoft LAN Manager, client PCs running Microsoft Windows 3.1 and including a suite of RM-developed network management applications. Despite a nationwide program of marketing seminars and three pilot sites, the venture failed to generate adequate revenue. RM withdrew within two years.


RM Educational Software, Inc. was established in 2005 to provide schools and districts in North America with many of the UK software products. In 2008 RM purchased and integrated the US interactive classroom provider Computrac.[18]


RM Asia-Pacific started operation in 1997. A head office was opened in Perth office in February 1999 after being awarded a contract for Schools Information Systems by the Department of Education and Training Western Australia (then named EDWA).

The company grew to employ 50 staff located in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington (NZ), servicing over 4,000 schools across Australasia and in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Taipei.[19]

RM Asia-Pacific was sold to Civica plc in 2011.

Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA)[edit]

In 2009 the company announced that it was expanding its business into the MENASA region with offices based in Dubai. The company stated that this would be a joint venture:

"RM MENASA will, through subsidiaries licensed to trade in each country, provide educational ICT products and services to schools in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA). It will be the exclusive distributor of RM's learning technologies products in the MENASA region."[20]

This venture was closed down after 12 months.


The company was the first significant supplier of LAN computer networks in the UK[citation needed] and, working with Zilog, developed Z-Net, a low-cost network technology that was widely used in UK schools particularly the RM Nimbus model. Z-Net was subsequently replaced by what later became the industry standard, Ethernet. RM cooperated with Microsoft in the production of early networking software. Various generations of RM’s networking products – all of which have been built on standard Microsoft networking software – are currently in use, the most recent version is called Community Connect 4, released in June 2008.[21]

RM Education not only provided networking solutions but offered a range of computer hardware. Most of its computers were assembled at their factory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, some re-branded as RM.

Early products such as the RM 280Z, RM 380Z and Link 480Z were based on the Zilog Z80A processor.

The Group switched to Intel processors with the launch of the 80186-based Nimbus PC-186 in 1984. While not 100% IBM PC compatible, the Nimbus PC-186 ran MS-DOS and was a very early example of a computer designed to support Microsoft Windows, in fact Windows 1. Since 1986, with the introduction of the Nimbus AX and VX models, all RM computers have been fully IBM compatible.

The company also offers a range of software, such the Kaleidos VLE, MathsAlive, DiscoverAlive, Living Library and SuccessMaker. They also bundle popular software titles from other software companies to allow teachers and network administrators to install the titles more easily.[22] In 2005 RM was awarded the contract for Glow (formally known as Scottish Schools Digital Network (SSDN) National Intranet project). Under the five-year, £37.5 million project, all 32 Local Authorities, over 3000 schools and over 800,000 education users plus parents will have access to Glow. Glow has indicated that it will not reprocure the existing service after the end of the current contract in September 2012.

RM Asus netbook[edit]

In October 2007 RM Education started selling the RM Asus Minibook in the UK, a re-branded Asus computer.[23]


In 2010 RM Education was awarded the title of Top IT Employer at the 2010 Top Employers United Kingdom awards, run annually by the CRF Institute. RM scored a five star rating across all five categories which consist of pay and benefit, career development, training and development, working conditions and company culture.[24] The award was also won by RM in 2008 and 2009.[25]

  • Chief Executive Officer: David Brooks
  • Executive Chairman: John Poulter
  • Chief Financial Officer: Iain McIntosh
  • Independent Non-Executive Director: Lord Adonis
  • Independent Non-Executive Director: Sir Mike Tomlinson
  • Independent Non-Executive Director: Jo Connell
  • Independent Non-Executive Director: Deena Mattar


  1. ^ "About RM Education". RM Education web site. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Research Machines, "Company Profile", RM.com, Accessed: 10 March 2009
  3. ^ Blyth, Tilly. "The legacy of the BBC Micro". Nesta. Nesta. p. 12. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Smith, Tony. "The micro YOU used in school: The story of the Research Machines 380Z". The Register. Situation Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Hegenbarth, Nick. "RM 380Z". Old-Computers.com. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Wilcock, John. "Staffordshire University Computing Futures Museum Computers Page". Staffordshire University Computing Futures Museum. Staffordshire University. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Research Machines. "New CEO in 2008", rm.com, Accessed: 10 March 2009
  8. ^ "RM Plc CEO Terry Sweeney Resigns - Quick Facts". Rttnews.com. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  9. ^ "School computer test scrapped". BBC News. 2007-01-10. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  10. ^ Fletcher, Nick (2011-09-29). "Education group RM slumps by a quarter after profit warning and 600 job cuts". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Trading Update and Strategic Review". RM Investor Notice. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Smith, Andrew. "300 jobs at risk at Didcot education firm". Oxford Mail. Newsquest (Oxfordshire & Wiltshire) Ltd. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Annual Report 2009" (PDF). Rm.com. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "RM plc: Sale of Dacta Business/Assets and LEGO Education Europe". RM Education web site. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  15. ^ Kunert, Paul (11 May 2012). "RM dumps cash-bleeding ISIS Concepts onto ex-owner". The Register. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  16. ^ "FE Investegate |RM PLC Announcements | RM PLC: International Baccalaureate C". Investegate.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  17. ^ "RM Annual Report 2009" (PDF). Rm.com. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  18. ^ "RM buys US Computrac - 05 Nov 2008 - CRN UK News". Channelweb.co.uk. 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ "RM to supply learning technologies products in the MENASA region". Rm.com. 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  21. ^ "RNA – Regulatory News Announcements". Hemscott.com. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  22. ^ [2][dead link]
  23. ^ "British firm launches £169 laptop | News". PC Pro. 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  24. ^ Smith, Andrew (26 March 2010). "Top award for RM". Oxford Mail. Newsquest (Oxfordshire & Wiltshire) Ltd. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  25. ^ [3][dead link]

External links[edit]