The number of schools especially those owned by private individuals are increasingly growing in almost everywhere in our towns, cities and villages. While owners create the schools to provide quality education, it is certain that the dividends that come with owning them are something to ride home about. As you read this article I bet you that a school is either being conceived somewhere or perhaps the creation process has actually begun.
I assure you that there is no better way to start your private school than first getting the knowledge demonstrated in this article first hand.
You could start a private school any day any time but if you want to set a high standard and win this lucrative market, you need to take the pains of going through the details with me. However, the result will show for the time you put in and the good news for you is that plenty of folks have done the same thing you are thinking of doing. I tapped from their experience and believe that you will find much inspiration and practical advice from this piece.
Starting a high standard school takes some time, money and patience. Here is how you can go about it following a timeline.
1. Carve Out Your Own Niche
It will be unrealistic to think that you can start a school that will offer education to every community and age group. About 35-25 months before opening, determine where you want to set up the school and what kind of school the local market needs. Is it a day-care, pre-nursery, nursery, primary, secondary, day, boarding, etc.? You need to know what their needs in this area are and seek to meet them.
After you determine what kind of school you will be opening, then decide how many classes will actually open the school. It is advisable to start from the lowest levels and then keep adding classes as you get older in the business.
2. Come Up With a Committee
A good school is not started on one mind. It is built on a think tank of a number of minds put together to think through all that is required. If you think of the school in many years to come with say 5000 students enrollment, you will want to take it more seriously than you would, thinking just in the next 2-3 years. Synergy is key to success here like in most businesses. So form a committee.
Let’s say you’ve got 24 months to opening, the next serious thing you need to do is to form a small committee of talented supporters to begin the preliminary work. You may like to include parents with financial, legal, management and building experience. Ask for and get a commitment of time and financial support from each member. This important planning work will demand much time and energy. These people can become the core of your first board of directors.
3. Seek Accreditation Well Ahead Of Opening
Let’s say you now have 18 months to opening. This is the right time you should be preoccupied with filing incorporation papers with your education authorities in your country or region for accreditation. The lawyer on your committee should be able to handle th
is for you. There are likely going to be costs associated with the filing, but he/she should donate his/her legal services to the cause.
Note that this shall eventually be a critical step in your long term fund raising plan. People will give money much more readily to a legal entity or institution as opposed to a person. If you have already decided to establish your own exclusive school, you will be on your own when it comes to raising money. In other words if your school is unregistered from the onset, you may soon forfeit government subventions.
4. Draw Up a Realistic Budget
Also, as part of your business plan, draw a five year budget that details your income and expenses. The financial person on your committee should be responsible for developing this critical document. As always, project your expectations conservatively and factor in an additional amount that could rescue you if things go wrong.
You need to develop two budgets: an operating budget and a capital budget. For example, a swimming pool or an arts facility would fall under the capital side, while planning for social security expenses like bus services would be an operating budget expense. Take into serious consideration, growth over five year’s period. You may want to seek advice from an expert.
5. Get a Suitable School House
12 months to starting, find a facility to house the school or develop building plans if you will be creating your own facility from scratch. You don’t want to just choose an archaic house to host your school because it is inexpensive. A modern and nice structure is one of those things that will make your school outstanding. There should be something in your premises that says, “Welcome!”. The campus should be appealing first to parents and then to the pupils or students. Get your architect and contractor committee members to spearhead this assignment.
Think carefully before you leap at acquiring that wonderful old mansion or vacant office space. Schools require good locations for many reasons, not the least of which is safety. Older buildings can be money pits. Make use of segmented buildings and improve on the campus with flowers and lawns.
6. Seek Tax Exempt Status
At this point, with about a year to start, apply for tax exemption in conformity with the laws related to this in your country/region. Again, your lawyer can handle this application. I do not in any way encourage you to refrain from paying local taxes but getting tax exemption can enable you get contributions from donors that are not subject to taxes. People and businesses will definitely look upon your fund raising efforts much more favorably if you are a recognized tax-exempt organization.
7. Get Some Key Faculty Members
This is also the right time to identify your Head Teacher and your Business Manager. Conduct your search as widely as possible. Write job descriptions for these and all your staff. You will be looking for enthusiastic and highly motivated self-starters who enjoy building something from scratch. Once all other things have been put in place, hire the head and the business manager. They need the stability and focus of a steady job to get your school open. You need their expertise to ensure an opening on time.
Also begin to assemble your staffing team, making sure you get qualified teachers for each subject. This aspect will constitute a major determinant of how fast the school will grow.
8. Raise Funds For a Successful Opening
With say ten months left, you need to secure your initial funding from donors and subscriptions. You will need to plan your campaign carefully so that you can build motivation, and raise the funds required.
You could appoint a dynamic leader from your planning group to ensure the success of these initial efforts. Car washes are not going to yield the large amount of capital which you will need. Well-planned appeals to foundations and local philanthropists will pay off. If you can afford it, hire a professional to help you write proposals and identify donors.
9. Identify The Staffing Requirements
Go ahead to identify what your staff will require, for them to teach well. Having them receive all the didactic materials and deserving compensation will enable you meet your goal of delivering quality education to the attendees. Sell the vision of your school to them. If they buy your vision, rest assured that they will run with it to wherever you desire.
10. Publicize Your School to Stakeholders
Eight months to starting, advertise your schools to stakeholders using available media like TVs, radios, newspapers, and online on social media like Facebook. You could even create a website for your school and promote it. Be sure you advertise through the media that will enable you get to your target audience efficiently. Equally, design a website and set up a mailing list to keep interested parents and donors in touch with your progress.
Marketing your school is something which has to be done consistently, appropriately and effectively. If you can afford it, hire an expert to get this important job done.
11. Business Proper
Five months to the school opening, it is time to open the school office and begin admissions, interviews and tours of your facilities. In addition to admissions and other activities you have begun carrying out, you also at this time should order instructional materials, planning curricula and devising a master timetable. You could get the team of professionals around you attend to some of these things while you have time to handle other tasks.
12.Employ teachers and Orientate Them
Have teachers in place to get the school ready for opening. The first year at a new school requires endless meetings and planning sessions for the academic staff. Get your teachers on the job no later than two months before inaugural in order to get them adequately prepared for opening day.
Depending on how lucky you are at attracting qualified teachers, you may have your hands full with this aspect of the project. Take the time needed to help your new teachers get acquainted with the school’s vision. They need to buy into it, or else their negative attitudes could create a host of problems.
13. Strive to be up-to-date
After the opening, make sure you join national or private school associations. Through such gatherings you will find incomparable resources. The networking opportunities for you and your staff are virtually limitless. During the first year, plan and attend association conferences, so that your school can gain prominence. That will ensure plenty of applications for vacant positions in the following academic year.
- Be conservative in your projections of revenues and expenses even if you have an angel who is paying for everything.
- Make sure real estate agents are aware of the new school. Families moving into the communities always ask about schools. Arrange open days, houses and gatherings to promote your new school.
- Submit your school’s website to sites like this one so that parents and teachers can become aware of its existence.
- Always plan your facilities with growth and expansion in mind. Be sure to keep them green as well. A sustainable school will last so many years. One which is planned without any consideration of sustainability will fail eventually.
What You Need:
- A Planning Committee
- A Head of School
- A Business Manager
- A Business Plan
- The Right Environment
- Dynamic, effective fund raising
- Professional marketing
- Qualified Teaching Staff
With all these in place, you are very good to go. The steps mentioned above are applicable in most locations. If there is need for any adjustment, you can do that to fit your circumstances and location.