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How to Start School and get IGCSE affiliation?

How to Start School and get IGCSE affiliation?

Posted on February 24, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

To become an IGCSE school in India, a school has to first establish itself conventionally. It has to be run by a Trust /Society / Section 8 company. Such Trust/Society/Company has to be a non-proprietary organization. There must be a School Managing Committee set up by the Trust/Society. For details visit our previous blog post How to Start a Private School in India? The school must have state board’s recognition and should obtain a No Objection Certificate stating that the state has no objection to its affiliation with IGCSE. A school affiliated to any other educational board such as CBSE or ICSE can make a transition to IGCSE provided it meets the standards of the International education board that IGCSE is.  IGCSE is the only educational board that is sponsored by a university namely the University of Cambridge. Currently, there are around 10,000 Cambridge schools across 160 countries.

Association of Indian Universities has acknowledged the equivalency of the IGCSE certificates with the school certificates provided by the other boards including CBSE, ICSE and state boards. This in addition to the international recognition by universities and employers of the IGCSE certification has shot up its appeal.

International recognition implies that the student becomes eligible to apply for university education in various arenas in most sought universities across the globe after passing the school. All universities in UK, major universities in the USA , Canada, Australia, Netherlands, etc recognize the IGCSE certificates at par with their own school certificates. The commitment of convincing the universities and creating opportunities for its subscriber school students lies with Cambridge itself which takes measures by reinventing curricula and introducing assignments and assessments. If the school can adapt to a dynamic learning of that level it can aspire for IGCSE affiliation.

For IGCSE recognition the school has to fulfill a set of criteria established by the organization. The criteria pertains to the fitness of the institution in running international curriculum and creating a ground for rigorous assessment of the knowledge levels of the students which provides them with the certification progressively.

The process of for affiliation or recognition with IGCSE starts with an expression of interest followed by a formal application. The application is followed by an assistance visit by the local representative of the organization who assists in the completion of the application and furnishes additional information. After the application comes the visit from the representatives of the approval board. The judgment of the board decides if the school gets the approval to run IGSCE curriculum.

This algorithm of affiliation must not mislead the school promoters. We advise the school promoters to be vary of the oversimplified versions detailed in certain web posts. Here we aim to give a comprehensive picture of the expectations of the international education board. We will elaborate on the features of the organization, the details and specific links to refer and examine your school’s fitness for IGCSE recognition.

As stated above you have to draft an expression of interest, thereafter you have to fill the application form for recognition. Prior to applying you must read through the details provided on Cambridge International Official Website to understand the requirements and assess your ability to fulfill them besides knowing the specifics of the procedure. It is important to choose the program you want to offer from the entire set of programs which IGCSE offers and prepare a draft of the application fee accordingly. For specific IGCSE fee for the program the school has to furnish details and submit an enquiry form available at the link https://help.cambridgeinternational.org/hc/en-gb/requests/new?ticket_form_id=53542 and the information will be provided. There are call centers to assist the school promoters in getting IGCSE affiliation too.

In order to join the elite group of Cambridge schools, it is essential to understand the IGCSE’s fundamentals, their organization, curricular expectations and standards.

IGCSE is a non-profit organization run by a dedicated department of University of Cambridge, UK. Cambridge boasts of 10 lacs learners in 10000 schools across 160 countries. These are impressive figures indeed but so are their expectations from the schools who want to join the global community the preceding schools have created.

The IGCSE gives freedom to frame the curriculum to the schools provided that the curriculum thus designed meets the board’s expectations of the learning outcomes.  The board conducts examinations for assessment and grant of certificates namely O level, A & AS levels which correspond to the class 10th and 12th board certificate exams respectively.

There are keystones of the entire structure of IGCSE which include International Curriculum, Teaching & Learning, Assessment, International Recognition and Global Community.

While we explain all of these so that the school promoters can actively infer the expectations of the board from the schools seeking affiliation. More details are available in IGCSE overview brochure.

The International Curriculum

The IGCSE curriculum has been developed for students of age five through age 19. There are subsets i.e. the primary, middle school, secondary. Cambridge O level (14 -16 years) corresponds to High School and Cambridge A and AS level (16- 19 years) corresponds to Intermediate grades.

The international curriculum which can be designed by individual schools keeping in view the demands of the Cambridge learning standards. It has to be intensive and coherent with the scope of broad cognitive application.

There are curricula for children of 5 to 19 years. Starting from the primary Cambridge through Cambridge Lower Secondary to Upper Secondary and Cambridge advance. The school can choose the span of Cambridge curriculum it wants to run. It can start with a stage and can gradually add stages going finally to certification stage. The exceptional feature is that the Information and Communication Technology is introduced in Cambridge primary (5-11 years) itself. For details visit http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-primary/cambridge-ict-starters/

The IGCSE professes that its curricula aim at “deep subject knowledge, independent research, work across disciplines keeping learning enjoyable and rewarding, smooth progression from stage to other in a spiral process”. The freedom to design the curriculum is granted keeping in view the diverse needs of culture and national contexts.

‘Cambridge Pathway’ from primary to Cambridge senior secondary and further to Cambridge Advanced cover English, Mathematics, Science, ICT and Global Perspectives in primary and secondary stages from which students advance to Cambridge IGCSE which offers from over 70 subjects, Cambridge O Level  40 subjects, Cambridge ICE certificate in upper secondary(O level and ICE). Cambridge Advanced (AS and A level)

It is a multilingual curriculum and places premium on language acquisition both as a subject and medium of instruction. They emphasize on ‘bilingual education’. This implies that a second language can be used as a medium of instruction. In some countries, certain subjects are taught in their own language, called ‘first language’ besides English. In India however, English is used in the majority of the IGCSE schools as the first language. An additional foreign language is also taught. But if the school chooses it can use English as a ‘second language’ and thus can teach certain subjects in any other language suitable for its students. There are options of a foreign language as well, regional languages can be opted in the curriculum as per the choice of the school. Indian languages have to be taught to maintain relevance for the home country. The practice of bilingual education is in keeping with concepts like Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).

 

Teaching & Learning

Next comes the expectations regarding teachers in terms of qualifications and attitude. Adaptability is the byword for efficient teachers as far as the Cambridge curricular expectations are concerned. Knowledge of the subject and proficiency in engaging the students with excellent language skills cannot be exaggerated. There are a lot of training programmes that are conducted for the teacher by IGCSE. Cambridge School Conferences are held for teachers to learn about leading international pedagogical practices. School teachers and leaders can avail Professional Development Qualification Programmes that are provided by a network of professional development centers in several regions to make them accessible to teachers in different locations.

Teachers for an educational enterprise like an international curriculum running school must be chosen with skill set precision and after substantial deliberation. Teacher recruitment drive can be made brief by assistance from talent pool like educatorOne.com.

 

Assessment

Assessment pattern includes ‘Summative’ and ‘assessment of learning’. These include ‘end of year exams’ and ‘public exams’. Schools have to follow a ‘code of practice’ for exams. The assessment is central to the entire program. The composite name for Cambridge certificate was Cambridge International Examination which has recently been changed to Cambridge Assessment International Education. IGCSE clearly states that providing world-class examinations is at the core of their functions. Subject-specific knowledge is important, but it has also named skills such as ‘knowledge application’, critical thinking and research as being key to successful progression across all Cambridge programmes.

It is also stated that no student shall be detained in any class till Class VIII. Though the student is promoted he/ she will only be assessed in a subject after clearing the assessment of the previous grade. This ensures that the acquisition of basics of a subject is not compromised.

The schools who aspire to earn their students A and AS level certificates that correspond to class XI and XII respectively, have to prepare the students for primary and middle-level stages by introducing the Cambridge curriculum.

One interesting feature is that the assessment aims at involving students proactively. They learn from their mistakes in such a process.

For details visit http://www.cambridgeinternational.org/images/416992-code-of-practice.pdf

 

Get ready to be a part of the Global Community

As pointed earlier, the Cambridge has maintained a network of 10,000 schools across 160 countries. This amounts to an international community with the capacity to empower anyone who lags behind. At the same time, it obliges an institution to catch up with the global standards.

A ready support system for the new schools is available through the network of schools. Teacher training and other requirements can be shared with the Cambridge in unison. These are outstanding benefits of being a part of the global community dedicated to an evolved pedagogical program and comes as an exceptional advantage to new entrants into the IGCSE.

Moreover, there is a Cambridge Global Perspectives community which is an online community where the member schools can connect with educators and students from different nations to advance their approaches towards meeting the Cambridge program standards.

In conclusion, it can be stated that IGCSE will assess if the school’s education ecosystem is adaptable to the global perspective that IGCSE introduces with its international pedagogical programme before granting affiliation.

If a thorough study of the documents whose links have been provided above is to be done and assessment of the school’s capacity is made, particularly of the ability of the school system to prepare the students for the certification exams then the move towards IGCSE will turn out be a success story.


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How to Start a New School in India?

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  —

  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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


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