There are many business ventures a person can delve into, however, starting a private school can prove particularly challenging. There are often many regulations to conform to and resources that need to be assembled. Strategies must also be developed to ensure staff are well motivated, the curriculum is worthwhile, and that parents will be sufficiently impressed to enrol their children. It can be a delicate balancing act to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are served. Before you start on such a monumental venture, here are some key questions you should ask.
1. How will this project be funded?
As mercenary as it seems, the reality is that schools require a lot of funding, right from the start. Even before you get to operational expenses like salaries and utilities, you have to consider where you will get the money for big-ticket capital items like land and construction.
You need to establish if the school will be a profit or non-profit. Both kinds of schools have excellent potential for achieving success as this tends to depend more on such concerns as the quality of management and educational program.
Look into what kind of funding is available and assemble a business plan that will appeal to investors. You will need to have put together such information as a budget and have conducted some feasibility study to indicate the potential for attracting the number of students you want. The budget will be important so investors know how their money is to be utilized.
2. What curriculum should be adopted?
Private schools have more flexibility when it comes to choosing what curriculum to follow. Especially when catering to international students. It is a good idea to look at other private schools that are already in the market and what curriculum they offer. This will give you a good idea of what is in demand.
Also, as you consider the type of students you trying to attract, you need to factor in what curriculum will offer them the best chances of getting into the universities and colleges they want. Budgetary concerns will also need to be raised as different curriculum may require different levels of investment. For instance, if setting up an international school, you will often find the programs like International Baccalaureate(IB) can be costlier due to the highly intense and interactive teaching style and calibre of educators.
3. What kind of market demand is there for such a school?
Like any other business, you should only invest where there is the demand to draw upon. If you are setting up a for-profit international school, you need to be in an environment where there is a large expatriate community from which you can attract students.
Look at the existing number and range of schools in the location you are choosing for your school. See if there is still demand for more of the type of school you are looking to set up. consider what you can do to make your choice of school stand out and attract the interest of the parents or guardians.
Reach out to the local business community, local government and other related stakeholders for helpful information. This should be part of your feasibility study so you can better tailor your business plan.
4. What limit should be set for grade level and enrolment?
You need to decide what type and size of school you want to develop. Once you have settled on the curriculum, then you can determine the limit of grade level to cater to. You will likely start with lower grades and gradually build-up to the level you want as students move up. consider what kind of class sizes will be best for quality learning and the facilities that will be needed to cater to their needs. This includes everything from dining hall size and bathrooms to labs and sporting grounds.
5. Should it be a day or boarding school?
Boarding schools require a larger investment. Besides the issues of accommodation, you will also need to factor in food and medical provisions. You will also need to have more staff for supervision and care of students. Day schools will often need a larger budget for transport needs as students will likely need to be bussed back and forth.
This also brings in the issue of what kind of location the school is located in. those located in more urban areas will be able to attract more students from around the city. If in a more rural location, it may make sense to offer boarding facilities to avoid unnecessarily long commutes. A feasibility study should tell you what option is in more demand in the market.
6. What licensing is required?
Depending on the country in which you are setting up your school, you will need to consult with the local Ministry of education. They will be able to advise you on what requirements to organise and regulations to follow to access the license you need. You will need to provide certain information including the curriculum you will be using. If you intend to have some foreign teachers on the payroll, you need to ensure they have work permits.
7. What kind of location should be chosen for the school?
As mentioned earlier, the location of your school can influence such decisions as to whether to offer boarding facilities or not. The location will also influence some of your capital investments and what kind of facilities you can offer students. Naturally, buying or leasing land in the city will be far more expensive than doing so in a rural area. And, the more facilities you want to make available to students, the larger the size of property you will require.
8. What kind of staff do I need?
This applies to both teaching and non-teaching staff. You need to figure out the number and type of staff you need to ensure you can adequately cover the curriculum and meet the needs of the student body. You need an adequate teaching staff for class sizes and to cover all the subjects in the curriculum. You also need to ensure enough staff to take care of such areas as catering, sanitation, gardening and so on.
9. How much should tuition cost?
Multiple assessments will go into figuring out what kind of tuition to set for the school. You will likely need to draw upon the feasibility study, budget and financial projections for this. You need to ensure the amounts will meet whatever funding needs the school will have. You also need to ensure it is an amount the target community will be able to afford. It is also likely that you will require approval from the ministry of education or other local authority in setting tuition amounts.
10. What should be done to make the school the better option to other private and public schools?
There needs to be a unique selling point that will make your school stand apart from the rest. Without this, you may find it difficult to convince parents in the target community to enrol their children as students. Whether it is the choice of curriculum, extra-curricular facilities, or pastoral guidance, you need to figure out what will distinguish you in the market.