Institute of Education sold to UK schools group for undisclosed sum

Leeson Street ‘grind school’ has been in operation for 53 years and will continue as normal

The Institute of Education, the well-known private grinds school on Leeson Street Lower in Dublin, has been sold by the Kearns family to a British group for an undisclosed sum.

The school’s founder, Ray Kearns, who was from Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, died last year aged 91.

The business, which is run by his son Peter and daughter Úna, was put on the market in recent months and a deal was concluded to sell it to Dukes Education.

The Institute of Education is a multidenominational and co-ed facility that provides senior cycle tuition and exam courses to 7,000 students annually, both full and part-time.


The school has been in operation for 53 years, over which time it has become one of the State’s largest private schools, employing almost 100 teachers alongside a team of about 100 support staff.

Dukes Education is a UK-headquartered international schools group with more than 32 schools across Britain, Portugal and now Ireland.

Peter Kearns is to step down as managing director of the school following the deal, but he will stay on in a strategic advisory role and will retain an interest in the business going forward.

Yvonne O’Toole, the school’s principal, is to remain in situ and will become the new managing director.

Úna Kearns, who is currently the human resources director, will depart the business after 22 years.

Apart from that, there are no planned changes by the new owners to the name, the teaching model or the day-to-day arrangements at the school. Dukes Education wants the existing team to continue the operation of the school.

There will be no changes to teaching rosters arising from the sale or to any of the course structures or fee arrangements.

The new management team briefed staff of the school this morning to inform them of the sale. The new owners have also been in contact with students and their families to inform them of the news, and have moved to reassure them it will be “business as usual”.

There will be no contractual issues arising and the business will continue to trade under its existing terms.

It is understood all parties are keenly aware Easter is an extremely busy time for the school and its students with exam season approaching. It is running a number of additional courses this week and next week, and there is a desire to keep disruption to a minimum.

Following the sale, Mr Kearns said it was “a matter of great pride” to his family that the school “has endured and made such a huge contribution to education in this country”.

“The ethos of excellence that has been the hallmark of the Institute of Education will continue to prevail under Dukes Education, and our combined expertise and experience will help build on our great successes to date,” he added.

Ms O’Toole said she was “very happy” with the sale. “I very much look forward to continuing the great work we are doing here and to collaborating with our new colleagues,” she added.

Dukes Education is the largest premium education group in the UK. It was founded by Aatif Hassan in 2015 and it owns a number of independent schools, colleges and nurseries, as well as summer schools and camps, university and medical school consultancies.

Mr Hassan said the acquisition was “a strategically important step” for Dukes and “a fitting legacy” for the Kearns family.

“While I know the institute will benefit from becoming part of Dukes, we too will grow in stature from this new alliance,” he said. “Working together we hope to set many more young people on the exciting path to happy, successful and fulfilled lives.”

The Institute of Education was advised on the deal by Clearwater International, KPMG, Arthur Cox and MHC solicitors.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter