Top considerations for branching into the US education market: Education Insights Autumn report preview

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Everyone who produces content or provides services for teachers, learners, tutors, parents and others involved in education wants to make a difference by providing the most effective support possible. When we founded Oriel Square as an educational strategy, research and publishing services company six years ago, we could see that there was an appetite for accurate, timely and concise information about what’s happening now and what might be on the horizon in education. 

A front cover image of the Education Insights report from Oriel Square - a bright orange document with a colourful image of educators speaking to each other

Our Education Insights reports deliver critical market insights, trends and in-depth features on the educational content industry. This quarter, we look at developing trends in international education. Features include region and country-focused articles highlighting growth opportunities and market dynamics, in-depth studies of market segments where opportunities are highest, and analysis from specialists in commercial educational product development and distribution as well as from teachers and researchers in education from across the world.

We are delighted to share insights and experiences from those involved with education across the globe in our Autumn issue, Trends in International Education. In this report preview, education consultant Steve Whitley gives a run-through of some of the potential difficulties to consider before preparing to enter the US education market.

America, Land of Opportunity?

Steve Whitley has spent over 40 years working in the education sector. He has travelled extensively, selling EdTech products and services into schools and governments all around the world. As the founder of EdTech Consulting, he helps education companies create and implement their international growth strategies. 

The US education market

When viewed from the outside as a single entity, the US education market looks huge. There are 116,000 schools in the country, with a combined market value of over $1 trillion – and growing. However, a key thing to remember is that the US market functions more like a continent than a country: every state is a very different market, and to some extent, the same is true at district level. And there are other challenges that might not be obvious, too. Here is a run-through of some of the potential difficulties to consider before preparing to enter the US education market.


It’s said that the UK and US are ‘two countries separated by a common language’ and, although the origin of the phrase is disputed, the sentiment is exactly right. UK companies entering the US education market may find that their products and services will require quite significant modification, and no, it is not just a matter of changing spellings such as ‘organise’ to ‘organize’! Changes to context and phrasing, and localisation of vocabulary, will all be required.

Do not forget, either, that over 42 million US citizens have Spanish as their first language – so be prepared for your content to be at least bilingual if you are planning to sell into the southern states! It’s also worth remembering that there are massive cultural differences between US states that need to be taken into account.

US curricula and culture

There are state standards to adhere to, as well as national standards, and it is usually necessary to correlate and edit content to meet multiple different requirements. Don’t forget cultural differences, either: what is acceptable in the UK may not be in the US, and vice versa.

Education market structure

The US education structure is very different from the UK. To begin with, there are the obvious differences in terminology: elementary instead of primary, high school instead of secondary school, principals instead of headteachers, and so on. But more importantly, the underlying control and financial structures are also very different. Schools have much less autonomy than we are used to in the UK, both in terms of purchasing decisions and decision-making at school level.

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