Pearson, school supplier and publisher of the Financial Times, is buying US education technology firm Schoolnet for $230 million (£140 million).

Schoolnet’s online learning systems are used by five million students, who attend schools in a third of the largest cities in the US. The company also provides assessment and curriculum systems.

Pearson said in a statement to investors that Schoolnet’s systems would complement its own diagnostic and online learning technology.

In the US, government school reform programmes such as ‘Race to the Top’ supported the use of data systems aimed at improving pupils’ readiness for university, Pearson said.

Marjorie Scardino, chief executive at the company, added: "Being able to offer a connective digital spine for learning has been Pearson's goal for years.” The combined companies could make the technology “more flexible and powerful”, she said.