Scottish-based bookkeeping home study experts and family firm Ideal Schools celebrates 40 years in business and looks to the future

At an event to mark the 40th anniversary of Ideal Schools, a family business which specialises in online and distance-learning bookkeeping and accounting tuition, founder Elias van den Akker has reflected on his experiences starting and developing the firm, as well as looking to the future, announcing changes in the management of the company going forward.

The 79-year-old Dutch entrepreneur, who established the multiple award-winning Scottish-based firm in 1983, announced that he was retiring from his active role in the company. He also indicated that the position of Managing Director would be taken by his long-term colleague and Director Brian McVean.,


Mr van den Akker, known as Al, also announced that his son, Scot would become Chairman of the training provider. The changes at the top of the company became effective from September 1.

The event, at voco Hotels Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, was attended by directors, business associates and tutors and students past and present, and accolades were given to Al, whose firm earlier this year was named the Large Training Provider of the Year at the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) Luca Awards.

He said: “It has been a long journey, but over the years we have had some triumphs in not only guiding students to exam success, but also to improving their skills and job prospects. We have also taken on the challenge of facilitating accreditation, which is now a requirement for bookkeepers under money-laundering regulations.”


Scot talked about Al’s lifetime of achievement, from Friesland in Holland to New Jersey and Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the US, including an honours degree in Economics and a return to his late wife’s home in Scotland to establish Ideal Schools and an MBA.

He said: “When Al started out, there was no internet, no Facebook, X or Instagram, no electric cars. Nowadays there is so much chatter that it is hard to make an impression, but I think the interpersonal relationships between staff and students have helped immeasurably.

“Ideal Schools has always been student-centred. From the early days we have taken our lead from Al, who takes a genuine interest in every individual and encourages communication. This allows us to get to know our students and to achieve not only exam passes but also to attain our shared goals.”


Brian McVean said: “Like Scot, I started out helping in the office on weekends and in the holidays and the 40 years have gone by very quickly. I have always had a good working relationship with Al, who gave me an insight into what a good business should be like.

“When I was getting qualifications in management and accountancy, I did distance learning courses and that is just what they were – distant and uncommunicative. In contrast, Ideal Schools has always tried to ensure that students are treated properly and given the support they deserve.

“We now have a very good management system for students and our social media helps keep them engaged with each other as well as teaching them to work as a team. I have been very privileged to work with our amazing teachers in this fantastic community.”


The Glasgow-based firm specialises in delivering home study bookkeeping, payroll and taxation courses.

It works closely with the ICB – the largest bookkeeping institute in the world – and the Association of Accounting Technicians, the UK’s leading qualification and membership body for accounting staff, with around 125,000 members in more than 90 countries.


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Lisa Baker is the Editor of Always Finance, and writes about Business, Finance Technology and Healthcare. Lisa is also the owner of Need to See IT Publishing.