To start a new school, there are several steps that need to be followed. There are laws to be considered, investments to be planned, and decisions to be made. In this post, we will try to summarise the steps.
The answer will probably depend on your investment capacity and opportunities available to you. A school is usually seen as a building on a piece of land. Both of these require substantial investments. If you want to start a Nursery, Kindergarten, Montessori or Play school, you would need at least a 300 to 500 sq meter plot of land with a building on it. To start a primary school till Grade V, you might need 2000 sq meters of land. For a secondary school till Grade X, that could go up to 4000 sq meters and at least 6000 sq meters for a senior secondary school till Grade XII. The larger the piece of land, the more will be the investment in developing the land and constructing facilities on it. Therefore, the first step is to consider the investment capacity and look at the land that is available. If you are looking at leasing a property instead of buying / constructing it, then too the investment in maintaining the lease will decide on the size and type of school you plan to start.
Feasibility Study and Detailed Project Report
Before you embark on the project, it is best to have experienced professionals do a feasibility study along with a Detailed Project Report (DPR). Sometimes, feasibility studies done by us for our clients show that a particular piece of land is not viable, because the cost is too high or the location is not suitable. The study will help avoid an incorrect investment in such scenarios.
The DPR would include financial planning for the entire project. It would lay out the investments required over a period of time, the fees to be collected, the breakeven point and the return on investments over time. The DPR can also be given to banks or financial institutions to secure loans and investments.
Setup the entity that will own or operate the school
As the next step, you will need to start an entity to operate the school. For a preschool, the entity could just be a business entity like a partnership or private limited firm. For a larger school, the state government and affiliation bodies will define the type of entity that is mandatorily required. In India, private schools can be started by a not-for-profit Society, Trust or Company. Most chartered accountants will be able to guide on how to set up the entity required.
Setup the school infrastructure
The entity setup can prepare the infrastructure required for starting the school. The infrastructure, such as the building, must meet certain standards like the National Building Code and also meet the requirements of the affiliation board such as CBSE, CISCE, IGCSE or IB. When planning the infrastructure, the following costs needs to be budgeted for:
- External development of the land, such as boundary wall, pathways, parking, drainage etc
- Construction of the building, including services as electrical, air-conditioning, plumbing etc
- Interiors including furniture, IT equipment and other tools
- Outdoor facilities such as play areas, sports fields etc
The cost and requirements will all vary based on the size of the land, type of school being created and the location where the school is to be set up. It is always beneficial to engage the services of experienced consultants and architects to go through this stage.
Recruitment & Training
As the infrastructure nears completion, key positions of the school such as the Principal, Co-ordinators, Admin staff and teachers need to be recruited. There are recruitment consultants who can support this. Platforms such as newspapers and online recruitment sites can be explored to advertise the open positions.
Training all the staff members to define the culture and process to be followed is essential. Experienced trainers and consultants bring in the initial set of expertise required to guide the new school in the right direction.
Marketing & Admissions
In the competitive world of today, private schools need to be seen as a premium offering, therefore branding and marketing form an essential component of the school launch plan. The school’s name, logo, website and prospectus needs to be created. Publicity about the new school in neighbourhood areas that the school will cater to needs to be done. Interested parents will want to visit the school and talk to key people before applying for admissions. Fee collection and admission processes need to be clearly defined.
When a new school starts, there are many operations related processes that need to be defined. From pickup and drop of students, meal offerings in the school, services for uniforms and books, everything needs to be planned in advance. The day-to-day requirements of teachers and the various activities that students will engage in, including trips and excursions needs to be planned. This requires the admin department to actively engage with all team members of the school, and for the school leadership to give clear direction to the operations.
Affiliation and Recognition
Most boards, such as the International Baccalaureate or Central Board of Secondary Examinations require that an operating school apply for affiliation. After the application process, these boards usually conduct an inspection of the school to see that it meets their criteria in terms of students safety, spaces for learning and facilities offered. They will also check that the State and Central govt norms are fulfilled and all documents are in place. Affiliation is no longer a one time process, it needs to be renewed every few years. We always recommend that any new school being started today meets the requirements of the affiliation body in all aspects.
There are several other considerations when you want to start a new school. What will be the curriculum and activities that students will engage in? Will the interior spaces be designed to support the curriculum delivery and activities? How will the students fare in the final examinations and what is the best approach to take to achieve those results? How can the school remain financially profitable while continuously investing in human resources and infrastructure?
As consultants, Newton Schools can be your partner when you start a new school, in guiding you in each step. We have completed several greenfield school projects and many of our schools are the top schools in every aspect.
We would be glad to start a conversation with you, do contact us.