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Bridges Care and Education: specialist educational needs schools

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Key Factors

  • Sector: Specialist educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • Location: Southwest UK
  • Investment date: 2020
  • Investment structure: Majority investment
  • Why did we invest: We identified the specialist education sector as an attractive market due to growing demand, a shortage of high-quality provision and high barriers to entry stemming from the regulatory environment. We believe investing in specialist education meets our core ESG criteria.

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About Bridges Care and Education (BCE)

Bridges Care and Education (trading as Spaghetti Bridge), is an operator of SEND schools and caters to students with a range of special educational needs, including associated challenging behaviours. All students have an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

Downing’s relationship with BCE

Through its proprietary network of contacts, Downing identified and partnered with an experienced management team to establish a leading specialist education platform in the UK.  

BCE was established in early 2020 with the acquisition of the group’s first school site, Silver Bridge School in Taunton (Somerset), which opened later that year. BCE has since opened three further schools in the Southwest and is progressing other expansion opportunities.  

Downing’s value add

The investment into BCE is at the heart of what drives Downing's investment ethos - a commitment to the growth and development of UK-based businesses providing social good in underserved markets. During the partnership with Bridges, Downing has demonstrated a number of value-add activities, including:

  • Ability to identify and partner with an excellent management team by using our extensive proprietary network of contacts
  • Put in place a bespoke funding solution that creates alignment with management and provides capital for growth opportunities
  • Provide access to our network of brokers to help identify and secure growth opportunities
  • Provide access to Downing’s in-house resources, including our construction director, head of ESG, legal team and investment team
  • Help determine the strategic direction of the group, including setting out the growth strategy and supporting the growth of the central team
  • Quick decision making that helped the group capitalise on opportunities for growth

The future for Bridges Care and Education

Through BCE, we are proud to be supporting some of the more vulnerable children in our society by providing them with specialist support and education. With that in mind, Downing intends to continue to support BCE to grow organically or through M&A (mergers and acquisitions). We aim to establish BCE as a leading, national provider of specialist education.  

Dan Alipaz, CEO of BCE commented: “We wanted a partner who shared our values and our vision for delivering the very highest quality SEND services – and the Downing team were the perfect fit. Together, with our colleagues at BCE, I am confident that we can grow a group of truly outstanding SEN schools and support services across the southwest. These schools will serve the children and young people who too often have to fight too hard to access the education they need and deserve.”


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