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 related to school land and licensing and human resources involved in establishing and running a new school, the opening of a new school and details involved in the overall project can turn out to be unduly strenuous. Guidance from professional school consultancies, the process of school establishment could be eased considerably.
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 here —
- 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.
- 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.
- Acquiring land or Appropriating a Land for Establishing
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.
- School Master Plan and 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 number of classrooms, library, offices, assembly hall, labs, facilities, auditorium and area of the playground/play area, For CBSE and ICSE schools the minimum area in square feet is specified.
The blueprint of the school building facade and interior must be complete when application for the state board affiliation is made. State board affiliation is necessary even if the school promoters are planning to eventually gain CBSE or ICSE affiliation.
- 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.
- Applying for Recognition and Affiliation
It is mandatory for a new school to have State Board affiliation. State board affiliation is granted if the NOC to use said 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 recognition 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.
- 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.
- 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 need to have experts, preferably people with vision and experience in area of education. Besides educationists, people with knowledge of legalities, accounts, business and architecture will prove to be of great resource for any private school.
- 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 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. 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. 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. Success of school, keeping all this in view, depends upon the ability to upgrade, adapt and the choice of solutions and school solution providers.