Posted on January 10, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu
Starting a school in India is a venture many like to explore. Owing to the state policies regarding private schools which involves securing multiple licenses and permissions, opening a school can turn unduly strenuous. This need not be so daunting. We have detailed the procedure to start a school in India for the ease of school promoters in this article.
The private school venture, both in terms of establishment and gaining investment returns, highly depends on the policies formulated by Ministry of Human Resource Development and states’ education department. School establishment and recognition laws in India are made by both the states and the center and certain facets may change from one state to another.
The process of opening a private school is pretty direct but it involves several steps and components which demand time and dedicated resources. A set of principles must be followed to set up a new school successfully.
The guidelines for starting a private school in India are explained as under —
1.Decide the type of the school you want to start
The school can be a Playschool, Pre- Primary, Primary, Secondary or K-12. At this point, one has to decide how many grades would there be in the beginning. School promoters can decide to start the school with a small number of grades with a vision of increasing the number with time or they may plan to launch the school with both lower and higher grades.
A primary school will not be affiliated to any board of education. It should have the recognition form the State/UT department of education. After the primary school starts running class V, it can apply for approval for Middle Class Syllabus form Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and start class VI to VIII. School promoters can also choose to start an International Baccalaureate (IB) School or ICSE school. In every case the school has to be started first and then attempts for affiliating it to any given board has to be made.
In case the school promoter starts a school till class VIII or higher, he/she has to get affiliation from the state board. A state board school can eventually apply for secondary and/or senior secondary affiliation from CBSE, CISCE, IB or IGCSE.
2. Associate the school with a Trust or Society or Section 8 company
To start a private school, association with either a trust or society or a section 8 company is a must. It can be a pre-existing trust or society or can be a newly formed one. A trust or society operating a school in states of India must be registered under the state’s Trust Act or Indian Societies Registration Act 1860. The trust or society thus established is not -for -profit organization. If a company is sponsoring the new school, it should be registered under section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.
The trust or a society has to have a minimum of three members to get registered. The said trust or society must comprise of a ‘School Governing Board’ with three officially declared members namely the President, Secretary, and Chairman. The board additionally has two or three other members. It is preferable for these members to have educational or social work credentials.
The school board must acquire a ‘Memorandum of Association’ from the educational trust.
3. Acquiring land or appropriating a Land for Establishing School
Land for establishing a school can be purchased or leased. If the school promoters already possess a land, they must get it approved for educational use by municipal and the education department of the concerned state. The minimum size of land required depends upon the type of school, the location i.e. rural, urban and its location relative to the city limit. Also, different boards have their own minimum land area requirements.
Before proceeding to procure land for the school the need of a new school in the given area must be recognized by the Department of Education (DoE) of the state. For this, the department issues an ‘Essentiality Certificate (EC)’. The certificate establishes that the new school is indeed essential for the area for which it is proposed and is not superfluous. This certificate is, in effect, the NOC for the school building construction. Municipal authority’s certification is also required. Other considerations include the environment that would host the school and availability of amenities that makes it fit for children like drinking water etc. After obtaining the EC construction must begin within 3 years or it expires. As education industry is characterized by its non –profit facet, the land being bought for the school building construction can be obtained from an agency at highly subsidized rates after a letter of sponsorship is acquired from the municipal authority.
For the convenience of school promoters an online school land and Infrastructure portal, “SchoolProp.com” is available, schoolprop.com facilitates the listing of land, Infrastructure and school buildings suitable for establishing schools ranging from playschool to senior secondary schools.
4. School Master Plan and School Architecture
School building plan must be approved by the state board and if the plan is to gain national board affiliation, respective bye-laws must be kept in mind. The specifications pertaining to the school architecture include the number of classrooms, library, offices, assembly hall, labs, facilities, auditorium and area of the playground/play area, for CBSE and ICSE schools the minimum land area is specified.
The blueprint of the school building facade and interior must be complete when the application for the state board affiliation is made.
5. Defining Mission and Vision of the School
There must be a clearly defined and drafted institutional mission and vision. The guiding principles and philosophy of the new school are outlined in the vision and mission statement clarifying the relevance of the school in terms of community wherefrom the students are drawn. The educational outcomes envisioned by the school and the curriculum orientation must be clearly delineated along with the method of assessment of the scholastic development of the students and school’s effectiveness. It is customary to define the social goals of the private school as an enterprise in the educational sector is seen in terms of its social dimensions.
6. Applying for Recognition and Affiliation
It is mandatory for a new school to have State Board recognition/affiliation. State board affiliation is granted if the NOC to use the land for the educational purpose, school infrastructure, amenities for children and staff as recommended are in place. After the school is operational an application for provisional affiliation can be made to CBSE. In case an ICSE affiliation is desired, the time passed after school establishment and state recognition is more. The process of applying for affiliation must be according to the bye-laws of the board to which the application is to be made. A list of licenses and approvals that are to be annexed with the application can be obtained from the board’s website. Initially, provisional affiliation is granted after an inspection by the inspection committee of the board visits the school and makes recommendations. In case any deficiency is found in the school, time is granted to remedy that. In case the affiliation is not granted, a reapplication has to be made after a year or more, depending on the board. We have written separate articles on how to secure affiliation from CBSE and ICSE. For knowing the procedure for starting a CBSE school, click here.
For knowledge of the process of starting an ICSE school, click here.
7. Drafting Financial Plan for the School Project
Financial plan of the new school is primarily for the master plan efficacy, establishment of the school and its operation. The plan contains the assessment of the feasibility of the school project. It contains the school setup outlay, details of the investment and revenue projections.
While drafting the business plan attention must be paid to the effect that every section of the financial plan must have its rationale in terms of academic goals and educational outcomes. The financial plan also includes the breakup of costs. The sections which comprise the financial plan include land investment; infrastructure costs etc. school financial plan will also include the planned budget, organizational structure, and details of the administrative costs and the prospective board of affiliation.
Sourcing the investment is crucial. The investment can be acquired from banks for opening a school but that requires a perfectly drawn plan to convince the bank of the soundness of the idea. Every aspect is inspected by the prospective funder of the private school which can be a donor; private company etc.
It must be understood by school promoters that when you run a school you are essentially running various complimentary businesses like conveyance, canteen, stationery, books, and uniforms to name a few. The scenario obviously calls for a financial plan and expert resource planning. In all financial plan will need constant evolution so that School Feasibility Report remains as intended throughout its operational course.
8. Constituting School Committee
The school founding committee must comprise of efficient members who can rise up to the occasion of managing the school and manning the core management body that would evolve with the school’s progression. The body needs to have experts, preferably people with vision and experience in the area of education. Besides educationists, people with knowledge of legalities, accounts, business, and architecture will prove to be of a great resource for any private school.
9. Hiring of Teachers and Staff
The qualification and professionalism of the teachers and staff is of central importance for a school’s success. The qualifications of the Principal and other academic staff are stipulated by the boards of affiliation. Besides that, accountant and administrative staff need to be hired. Vacancies must be posted and Interviews must be conducted for academic and non-academic staff’s recruitment.
School Serv has led the way by establishing an online teachers’ repository named educatOrone.com which is an exclusive recruitment platform for schools ranging from primary to senior secondary.
10. School Promotion and Launch
In the final stages of new school establishment process comes the promotional advertising. To begin with the marketing plan, idea of a brand needs to be evolved. A constant influx of marketing ideas for the new school is desirable. A thorough study of the school’s catchment area and the competition around is critical for effective promotion. It is indeed easier if the help of school marketing consultant is sought after the consolidation of the idea of starting a private school.
The brand management of the school is a research-backed and specialized process. Promotional media campaign must be executed to this end. The brand strategy must be designed to reach out to the parents whose preferences are researched beforehand. Parent’s preferences primarily include the curricular affiliation and affordability. The premium must be put on online promotion and new school’s directory presence must be ensured. Then there arises the need for attention to the result of the promotion namely, the admissions. The rate of initial enrollment must be maximized. Enrollment details and procedures must be published online on the newly created dedicated website.
The competition needs to be assessed well. The upcoming private school will naturally face competition from the existing schools of repute. A distinct identity and niche carving must be strategized accordingly. This does not happen overnight and is a protracted process requiring consistent effort.
After sequential and planned efforts the school project materializes. There is no doubt about the good business prospects of a well-founded and well managed private school. Indian school education ecosystem has distinctive features. The emphasis placed on quality and competition among private schools drives innovation and best practices. The success of the school, keeping all this in view, depends upon the ability to upgrade, adapt and the choice of solutions and school solution providers.
The curriculum is one reason. Also, the time at which state board emerged followed by CBSE following which emerged ICSE are different and they differ by decades. Earlier the land for the school was abundant, unlike now. The availability of the land took a downturn with development through these years and the concessions have to be made by the boards for private schools. That is the reason you see in practice when area requirement in metros and urban areas are curtailed with respect to the rural counterparts. That has to do with the real estate scenario which schools have to come to terms with.
I am amazed at the expression you are using for education “cash cow”, what are children’s future then “blind turns”. There may be the ones who get around the law and attain financial benefit for themselves besides salary through school but that is not the rule and if the law is lifted then the need for pretension and hypocrisy would be removed and the profiteers would run amok.
The private unaided schools are the ones which are run under public-private partnership and have significant social objectives. The fee, admissions, syllabus, exams and faculty recruitment etc. are all decided by the government, through private school-related innovations are considered to a certain degree. You are basically asking to commit your school for social upliftment of education. Anyway, there is a very stringent criterion and a recommendation from the board of affiliation is required besides many other validation documents.
I want to start a preschool in my village where there is an aanganwadi center. If I pool my personal resources into the upliftment of the aanganwadi center and run it on my expense on a nominal fee would the administration allow me to use the building that is practically empty most of the time?
You can of course volunteer your resources or services to the Anganwadi center but to get the rights to the use of land for a proprietary goal would sound like an entrepreneurial move rather than a service unless the entire village is represented and made a stakeholder. Even if the center is not functional the administration is accountable for that and in fact, it must already be paying for the services that are not apparent. It will be better to start your own school without looking for the government land, do not listen to the ones who suggest that it is a good idea.
I am thinking of buying an operational school listed on your portal, schoolprop.com. Will it be possible for me make radical changes to the school like curriculum, as that is what we think will make the difference. What facilities does we get from school serv in managing the school that we bought form schoolprop.com.
Why a school landed on the ‘on sale’ list is a complex thing to comprehend and any statement regarding that would be presumptuous. The services of School Serv will apply to the school in the same way as it does to any other school notwithstanding its being bought from schoolprop.com. We will like to clarify that the portal is just a medium to facilitate information and connect with the other party and is no way diversion of our services into other segments.
Tribal land laws apply in the state of CTG and they are intricate and quite distinct from that of other states. While social service, like the one you are proposing is encouraged, land allotment works on a complex mechanism, if it does at all. In any event, you will be required to prove the exceptional contribution you are going to make through your educational initiative.
Not in majority of the states.
Some states regulate the upper limit for school fee, upper limit for yearly fee hike, admission fee, capitation fee, etc. It is advised that school promoters planning to start school thoroughly study and take it into consideration prevalent state guidelines in this regard.
The school can apply for CBSE affiliation as soon as it is deemed fully functional by the school management. There is no set limit but practically it would lie between 1 to 2 years. It is so because the application of affiliation requires details about the faculty, students, accounts even student assessment besides infrastructure. Details which only a school which has run long enough can provide. After the application is made and affiliation is granted there is a time lag of around 6-8 months minimum.
Feasibility report for schools and the grounds of EC are fundamentally different. Feasibility report of the school project predicts the viability of the project in the given location. EC is a just an administrative device to control the supply of private schools in an area to make it difficult to assess demand thereby restricting the market driven operations in education sector.
You are not barred from applying for EC just because there are existing schools nearby. The issuance of EC depends upon the assessment of the need of school and to check the intent of the school promoters. You can always add quality to the educational scenario of the locality or provide access to schooling for a certain socio-economic group. However, you must demonstrate amply that your venture in school education is sustainable and capable to follow all the regulations issued by both center and state.
I am afraid it is not legitimate to start primary school in absence of the necessary permissions. So, if you are looking to make your preschool a primary school you have to follow the same procedure as someone opening a new primary school would. When the permission is granted or imminent you can promote your students to grade 1.
State DOE NOC is an absolute requirement for applying for affiliation for national i.e. CBSE, ICSE or international organizations IB or Cambridge. There is no reason to definitively say that it is easier or harder to get the NOC for international boards. In fact, there have been various recommendations to remove the obligation of getting state NOC for affiliation but for schools getting affiliated to international programmes are not recommended for exemption.