How to Start an ICSE Affiliated School in India?

Starting an ICSE school in India implies getting a school affiliated to the Central Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) or the ICSE board. To get affiliated with the council a school in India must be operational and must have the state board recognition. Opening a school with a vision towards CISCE affiliation must keep medium of instruction as English exclusively. Every private school in India must be run by a Trust/ Society/ Section 25(1) company. Such Trust or Society must be non- proprietary and it must own or hold on lease the land for the school. There also must be a memorandum of association between the school and the Trust/Society which sets up a School Governing Body or School Management Committee.



School promoters who decide to venture into education sector and plan to open a new school know that successful start of a new school depends on several factors. For detailed directions on the school set up process visit our previous post  How to start a New School in India?


How to start a school in India?


It is important to review why ICSE is emerging as the board of choice for affiliation among school promoters in India.  In the second decade of 21stcentury when we have started to redefine scholastic merit in international terms the school education boards with some global orientation are finding renewed relevance. Now there is a marked increase in the popularity of curricula and methods of assessment that are informed by global pedagogical standards. The Council for Indian Schools Certificate Examination (CISCE), popularly known as’ ICSE board’ is the only Indian education board that enjoys international recognition. This implies that the grades acquired by the school students passing the board examinations are considered at par with the grades of several international merit assessment exams for higher education. Admissibility of ICSE board grades in English at par with TOFEL and IELTS grades is a case in point. Besides, the CISCE offers a wider choice of subjects than CBSE and state boards and emphasizes the overall development of pupils.  Starting a school in India affiliated to the ICSE board becomes an excellent choice for these reasons.

ICSE schools are compulsorily English medium schools and are required to maintain a high academic standard to sustain their affiliation with the council. Presently, there are over 2100 ICSE affiliated schools in India. The figures make it clear that the ICSE schools are lesser in number than schools affiliated to other education boards like CBSE. It implies that they cater to a population with a specific set of educational preferences. This gives a chance to the school to make its place and gain an edge through its merit without facing the disadvantages of having an enormous number of competitors in the fray. School promoters just have to concentrate on providing rich educational experience to their students and expect success and enviable reputation in return.

It is important to take note that the school should not advertise itself as “ICSE School” or running “ICSE syllabus”. This direction is in accordance with the rules laid down by the Council. The abbreviation CISCE should be used instead.

Coming to the process of gaining affiliation with the CISCE, it must be underscored that for an affiliation application made by a school to be processed it must have

  1. Association with a Trust / Society / Company

The trust /society /company must be non- proprietary and must be financially sustainable. It must ensure that a School Governing Body and Managing Committee are constituted.

To attest the financial stability of the trust/society/company an audit report issued by a firm of chartered accountants along with balance sheet and income and expenditure accounts must be submitted while applying for affiliation.

  1. State Board recognition and No Objection Certificate (NOC)

The school applying for affiliation must have a prior recognition from the state board and a NOC to the effect that the state approves the affiliation of the school with the ICSE from preschool to class 10th or 12th.

The school applying for affiliation must have started Class VI and the school must get affiliated to the CISCE before students enter Class IX.  It is strongly stated by the council that before the affiliation is granted students should not be promoted to class IX.

The schools applying for affiliation to CISCE should concentrate their efforts and resources on following aspects

  1. Land and School Infrastructure

School land and property must be in the name of the Society / Trust / Company or the school itself. The land can be owned or leased. If the land or school building is leased it should be registered for a minimum term of 5 years, additionally, there must be a renewal clause of at least 30 years.

Minimum land requirement for a school applying for affiliation with the CISCE is 2000 sq.metres. Such land would include the school building and the playground.

A format termed ‘land certificate’ assigned by the Council needs to be filled by the school applying for affiliation. You can download the form at ICSE land certificate form.


ICSE land certificate form


Coming to the school building and infrastructure, the council mandates minimum area of a classroom to be 37 sq.metres. There must be separate laboratories for science subjects with practical’s and for lessons in computers. The labs must be well equipped. The complete inventory of lab equipment can be availed from the council’s website The school must also have requisite infrastructure for instruction in other subjects, for instance, equipment and field space for practical instructions in Geography etc.

The school must also have a fairly rich library.Looking to buy, sell or rent school property? The specifications of the CISCE with respect to the stock of the library is   2500 books with about 5 books per student excluding the text book specimens. The council clearly directs that the school library must not stock keys or guide books of any sort.

Fulfilling land and infrastructure requirements requires careful selection and precision. With the advent of portals like the property for schools has become far more accessible.

  1. Teaching Staff

The school must appoint teachers with qualifications as per the CISCE norms. The council has specified the qualification and experience required for the academic staff including the Principal and the Vice-Principal.  For instance, minimum qualification according to the council for The Principal / Headmaster / Headmistress is a postgraduate in a teaching subject from a recognized University and a recognized teacher-education degree and five years teaching experience in a recognized school. For details about the qualification and experience for teachers and heads Chapter II of the affiliation guidelines must be referred at CISE Affiliation Guidelines.


CISE affiliation guidelines


While considering the question of teacher student ratio it must be kept in mind that the number of students in any given class must not exceed 45.

Given the uncompromising attitude of the CISCE regarding the qualification and experience of teachers and Heads of the schools affiliated with them, a recruitment drive for selecting adequately qualified teachers must be undertaken. School promoters can find human resources for schools through

  1. Establishment of Curriculum

The Council has a prescribed Curriculum for Preschool to Class VIII.  It has assigned syllabi for subjects   of examination for the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) (Classes IX & X) and for the Indian School Certificate (ISC) (Classes XI & XII) examinations.

There are however no assigned textbooks for instruction by the council except for English and other languages. The schools can opt for a set of textbooks for instruction in all other subjects provided they are efficient in imparting the desirable levels of knowledge.

  1. Preparation for Inspection

After the application for affiliation is made by the school and the application is found complete with all essential documents and details the Council will delegate to the inspectors the duty of school inspection for affiliation.

The council has expressly instructed the aspects and ideal conditions for their upkeep in chapter III of its affiliation guidelines.


Chapter III of its affiliation guidelines


School promoters must mind that these conditions are met in totality to ensure their school’s affiliation with CISCE. The comprehensive list of facets that are inspected includes the school infrastructure, teaching and other staff, facilities, documentation, students’ assessment criteria, curriculum and teaching aids, extracurricular facilities, Internet availability, documentation standard, conduct of examinations, accounts, medical amenities and staff, fire safety, provision of lifts and staircases with railings, water harvesting apparatus etc.

School supplies are carefully assessed both for quality and quantity by the Council. A detailed list of school supplies that must be at the disposal of the school administration is listed in the affiliation guidelines. It includes high quality blackboards, teaching aids, stationery, laboratory equipment, and furniture and storage facilities besides sports and games supplies etc. School promoters must carefully observe the listings in the affiliation guidelines of the council at the link given above and make no compromises. Quality school supplies can be purchased online on portals like




The school promoters must prepare for the Inspection and concentrate on the undermentioned aspects.

  • Documents of School Initiation

Documents detailing every aspect of school founding that must be maintained include land records, blue print of the structure, fitness report from the concerned authority, NOC from the Government, trust deed, memorandum of association / registration certificate, list of members of the Governing Body / Managing Committee, minutes of the meetings of the Governing Body / Managing Committee and audited statement of accounts of the school.

  • School Infrastructure and Support Services

Details of the school building, location and surroundings, architectural design of interiors, playground, toilets,    drainage and emergency safety apparatuses are surveyed. Quality of the construction will be particularly observed by the inspectors deputed by the Council for affiliation fitness inspection.

The sizes and equipment levels of classrooms, library and laboratories will be closely inspected. Stock registers of supplies must be kept up to date for the inspection. Special attention is to be paid to the computer lab where required number of appropriately configured computers and internet facility will be particularly inspected. Library must be stocked and staffed according to the Councils directions and its budget allocation is to be specified.

Facilities, Canteen, Infirmary will be inspected for hygiene status and standard of equipment.  Infirmary must be well equipped and staffed. It has to have wheel chairs, oxygen cylinders and services of Doctors and nurses at hand.

School Conveyance must stand in good stead. The condition of school buses, background information of drivers and conductors and security arrangements will be inspected besides other details that are considered relevant by the inspecting team.

  • Documents and details of students and staff

It includes details about the number of boys and girl students in each classroom. The admission process is also scrutinized by the Inspection Committee. The documents including birth certificates and transfer certificates must be in place. Other documents that are to be produced at the time of inspection include the fee book, attendance registers, consolidated mark sheets, school time table and format of report cards.

There must be an articulated document detailing the provisions for the differently abled students. Details of and procedures followed with regard to the management and employment of teachers, administrative and ancillary staff must be documented for appraisal.  This includes the details of the qualifications of the teachers and Principal, their pay scale and work load. Besides that the leave rules, teaching modalities and service conditions must be clearly delineated for the Inspectors’ observation.

The same applies for the administrative and ancillary staff. There also has to be a Counsellor and Special Educator. The documents and details that are needed for inspection are service records, attested certificates and documents of the qualifications of the employees, reports of the lesson observation, appraisals and incentives records and salary and attendance registers for the employees.

  • Status of Academics and Extra-curricular activities

The details about the academic set up and curricular conduct of the school is closely checked by the council and any asymmetry between the guidelines and practice is pointed out. The details include the subjects being taught in the different classes, third language from Grade V to VIII, choice of subjects planned for Grade IX to XII , text books prescribed , class assignments and homework , projects in different subjects ,practical work in Sciences ,Craft / Art / Socially Useful Productive Work , speaking skills and conversation skill in the languages , aural comprehension , use of teaching aids , criteria for internal assessment , format of question papers, evaluation of examination answer scripts , format of the report card , consolidated report card and mark sheet for the year.

The details of the co-curricular activities which include drama, dance, music, elocution, inter- school and intra-school competitions, house system , exhibitions of art, craft and projects,  hobby clubs , school magazine / newsletter , social services and community programs are to be produced at the time of inspection.

Once the inspecting Officers deputed by the CISCE submit their report the school awaits the correspondence from the council. If approved, the new school gets a provisional affiliation.

The process of CISCE affiliation is demanding, and once obtained, sustaining the affiliation requires consistent effort on the part of the school management. It has to keep assessing every aspect of school operation and strategize school improvement. If this is accomplished the school would certainly see itself in the league of reputed CISCE schools.

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Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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All Comments:


Sir how much Play ground area is required for opening icse board school upto class X.


Good Morning Sir, Thank you for reaching us.. can I have your Contact details.. Will get back to you.

Sunita Thorpe asked

We are already running a school in Moga (Punjab) for the last 30 years with State Board affiliation uptill 10th class. We want to get affiliation of ICSE. WE are looking for consultants who can help us in preparing paper work etc. Sunita Thorpe 9465600041

Vinod Kakumanu answered

We will definitely guide you in case you find any particular difficulty in applying for affiliation yourself. However, it is my conviction that if your papers are in order and you have reasonably introspected about your school’s eligibility for CISCE affiliation, you just need initiative on your part to do the application formality on your own with relative ease, after all you are running the school for 30 years.

Mohinder asked

I want to know at which class the ICSE affiliation is granted. For example if I want to open a school from nursery to class 5th only then can I apply for affiliation or is there any requirements for affiliation.

Vinod Kakumanu answered

The school applying for affiliation must have started Class VI and the school must get high school affiliation with CISCE before students enter Class IX.

Chirag desai asked

I have my children studying in a soon to be affiliated to CBSE school but today they admitted that they could not get CBSE affiliation and now they would be applying for ICSE affiliation and which they have stated that they will get on 6 months of time . Is this possible to get the affiliation done in 6 months or how much time it normally takes ? Also how can as parents we can know what has happened in reality with the school affiliation to CBSE

Vinod Kakumanu answered

Please believe me when I say that I understand your predicament as a parent, the situation you are finding yourself in is not uncommon, unfortunately. Anyway, the school in question may after all succeed in securing CISCSE affiliation in 6 months provided it has all the documents and records in order besides the operational and infrastructural requirements. The reason for its failing to secure CBSE affiliation appears to me to be an infrastructural one, as that is one criteria where CBSE's and CISCE's requirements vary significantly. I advise you to be optimistic but vigilant. And remember, it is your right to acquire information, if you please to do so, from the school management.

Priya asked

I am running a preprimary school in tribal zone Jawhar in Palghat district Maharashtra. I want detail information about ICSE affiliation and for tribal zone laws are same or different? ,

Vinod Kakumanu answered

Pre-primary schools are not affiliated, even primary schools are not “affiliated” in the real sense of the term. They are instead recognized by such and such board, mostly the state board. Anyway, If you mean to go further and open a primary school then you need to follow the guidelines we have given in our post “how to open a school?” Even in the tribal areas, while getting recognition from ICSE, the affiliation rules will apply. They will be the difference in the clauses that deal with the land requirement and the state’s tribal land laws would apply. You will not get any relaxation with regard to medium of instruction i.e. English or any other academic or administrative matters. For complete details about ICSE affiliation please go through our blog post “how to start an ICSE-affiliated school?”

Shiraj asked

I run an ICSE school and I feel that the ICSE syllabus emulates CBSE syllabus heavily, was this the reason why the board’s dissolution being talked about?

Vinod Kakumanu answered

CBSE syllabus is the product of NCEFRT research, psychological and neurological assessments of the adolescent brain. CISCE is a private body and it can draw knowledge from the researches, there is no law preventing it from doing that. The elements of subjects rare uniform the world over. The presentation, the sequence may vary. so, commonalities are not simply indiscriminate emulations. secondly, there is no such official talk about the changes in the configuration of the boards, so it is nothing but conjecture that carries little value.

Durga M asked

Which international curricular combination is the most popular in India?

Vinod Kakumanu answered

While schools have tried almost all possible curricular combinations of national and international programmes, the IGCSE/GSE (Edexcel and CIS) with IBDP is seen to be gaining prominence. If we consider the national boards IGCSE graduates fit in well in ISC (CISCE XII).

Jeevan K asked

Is ICSE affiliation easier to get than the CBSE affiliation?

Vinod Kakumanu answered

It should not be thought in “easy or difficult” terms. If the school crosses the quality threshold it gets the affiliation otherwise it does not. Indeed, there are palpable difference in the bye-laws of affiliation of both boards, but they are not different to a degree of contrast or something. The affiliation conditions are majorly same.

Nalinee asked

Is it true that ICSE is a tougher board than CBSE?

Vinod Kakumanu answered

It depends upon the one who is making the comparison and his definition of “tougher”. CISCE is the council which conducts ICSE and ISC exams in X and XII respectively. It has held a good standard and is known for its emphasis on language and humanities. As far as the level of toughness is concerned it may appear so in very particular topic in a class. It is not disparate in any way or it would be unfair for K-12 students of ICSE.

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