WHEN Darryl Mydat’s first marriage ended, so did his relationship with Academics, the recruitment agency he and his wife Emma had started in 2000.
“Unfortunately we got divorced and I was paid out for my stake,” said Mydat. But the money allowed him to build a new business, the London Teaching Pool, which provides teachers and support staff for schools in Britain and overseas.
Last year his TLTP Group reported sales of £4.4m, and a rise to £5m is expected when the latest accounts are filed in August.
“When I started, there was little concern about the quality of teaching,” said Mydat, 52, who as managing director leads a team of 20 recruiters. “Schools were quite happy to receive the type of candidate I would class as a babysitter rather than a teacher.”
Education recruitment has changed significantly in the past 13 years, he believes. “Agencies are more professional, particularly with the introduction of additional safeguards such as Criminal Records Bureau checks.”
In 2008, TLTP extended into the healthcare sector, supplying physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists to hospitals and special needs schools. Four months ago Mydat’s team began recruiting solicitors, an area Mydat hopes to expand quickly in the next few years.
When the company moves from Gants Hill, northeast London, to new offices in nearby Hainault, it will have room to offer training for recruiters.
Mydat grew up in Stanmore, northwest London, where he lived with his mother, a housewife, his father, a car mechanic, and his younger sister. He left his all-boys comprehensive school in Harrow at 16 with no qualifications. “I wanted to work, so I started behind the counter at a small record company in Oxford Street.”
While there, he discovered citizens’ band radio, which was then illegal in Britain. “You could sell the aerials and all the accessories but not the actual CB radios,” said Mydat.
Undaunted by the risk of legal action, and aged just 19, he opened what he believes was Britain’s first CB radio store, in Edgware, supplying radios from overseas for the undercover hobby. He was soon out of business, though, as the government legalised CB radio in 1981 and the equipment became widely available.
Mydat worked in his father’s business, Darryl Motors, until 1985, when he joined a telecoms start-up. He spent a year as a buyer in the Far East for a telecoms start-up and then became a shop manager for Tandy, the personal computers pioneer (now RadioShack).
“I was very much into music and technology, as most kids are,” said Mydat. “I’d run a mobile disco at school, thinking I was going to be the next big thing.”
After a year at Tandy he was headhunted by Amstrad, where he “worked directly” with Alan (now Lord) Sugar. “It was inspirational. He’s a very clever man with a very sharp mind. It was a buzz going to work every day.”
Mydat spent a decade at the home electronics company and was involved in its “special projects”. “A special project was whatever new idea Mr Sugar wanted to explore. He would contact me directly, asking how feasible it might be.”
Mydat took redundancy when Amstrad hit problems, and for two years he made a living buying and selling bankrupt stock, including computers. He then joined a recruitment agency, Sugarman Group, and two years later he and his first wife decided to try building a business in the sector themselves.
Caring for his two children, and later three stepchildren, gave him an insight into what makes a good teacher. “I was always very conscious of who was teaching my children,” he said. “I have heard thousands of comments from other parents about classroom standards over the years.”
Criticism of classroom standards has discouraged some aspiring teachers, Mydat believes. In response, he has set up the Pride in Teaching campaign on Facebook and Twitter to promote a positive image of the profession.
“We talk about the positives in teaching so people can let out their frustration about negative publicity, the curriculum, pay scales and other changes that are affecting lives, in and out of the classroom,” he said.
Mydat lives in Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, with his second wife, Annette. His top tip for entrepreneurs is: “Monitor the bottom line. It’s fine turning over money but if you’re not making profit in the end, it’s not worth doing.”
Offering a good-quality and honest service will help, he added.