Education is one of the basic requirements for the growth and prosperity of any society. With the growth in population, the need for new schools is ever-growing and provides immense opportunities for people interested to undertake the responsibility of becoming school owners or school promotors. To make the task of opening a new school more exciting and fulfilling, rather than daunting, ‘effective planning’ is the key. Before investing one’s money, time, efforts and energy in opening a new school, it is very important to have a concrete and effective plan, that one believes in. Starting a new business venture always carries risk, and schools are no exception. Having a plan for all the developmental stages, from inception to management, allows the school owners or leaders to move forward with confidence in turning their dreams to reality. The mammoth task of starting a new educational institution calls for a lot of planning, hard work, patience, and alertness in checking for all the hurdles which may come along the way of building a successful educational institution.
Benefits of Planning: Planning starts with goal-setting, which is derived from the vision and mission statements. External factors such as competitors, laws, availability of appropriate resources, and internal factors like the expertise of its workforce, adequacy of resources, and management abilities, affects the growth of any organisation. Outlining the ways to meet goals constitutes the rest of the planning process. Some benefits of plans are that they can:
• Serve as a guide to action - Plans have the capacity to direct people’s actions towards specific and desired outcomes.
• Improve resource utilization - In the face of scarcity of resources, planning aids the managers in the optimum and effective utilisation of the available resources.
• Provide motivation and commitment - Absence of clear goals and expectations can lead to demotivation. Planning mitigates uncertainty and motivates people to work towards a goal that they are aware of and understand.
• Set performance standards - Milestones to define progress and desired outcomes are established by planning, and these provide a standard for assessment of how things are progressing.
• Allow flexibility - Key resources and critical factors, both internal and external, that need to be monitored are identified by the managers through the goal-setting process. In the event of any change, managers can detect them timely and respond appropriately by deploying resources.
There are three main developmental stages in the growth of a school, from an idea into a successful reality - pre-operational stage, operational stage, management stage - with detailed planning required for each stage. At the onset, concrete business and budget plans are required.
Business Plan: It is a must-have document and serves as a road map for the new school, with answers to the what, why, how, and when questions of accomplishing the task of setting up a new school. It also serves as an important documentation for potential investors to decide whether it is worth investing in.
Budget Plan: It is mainly a plan to predict and allocate funds, track income and expenses and to decide on the areas where spending needs to be done. For example, if new equipment is required, or a raise in staff’s salary is to be given, the budget plan helps one to determine whether funds are available for the same, or what needs to be done to make it happen.
Key Areas of Planning: Planning for all stages - from the time of conception of the idea of setting up a new school till it becomes operational - is deemed necessary. Some important areas of planning are given below:
• Location: A good location based on adequate research on the proper target audience has to be considered. It should also have good connectivity to residential areas within a radius of 10-12 kilometres, along with IT hubs and industries in the vicinity.
• Market Demand: Market demand should be considered at the onset, based on existing schools in the neighbourhood. Planning for a survey and conducting interviews with the local stakeholders, including the parent community, will result in the feasibility study required to comprehend the market demand.
• Curriculum and Board: Based on the decision of the board (for example, CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, IB, State Board), a plan on the chosen curriculum has to be made. It will give a clear picture to proceed with a further course of action. Decision of choosing a particular board for affiliation should be based on the existing market demand as well as the costs involved.
• Legalities: To avoid any complications in future, it is necessary to be absolutely clear on the legal front, including things like NOC (No Objection Certificate), legal documentations, affiliation certificates, approved government documents from concerned departments (like water, fire, electricity, health, sanitation, etc.), registering the school as either a Trust or a Society, etc.
• Infrastructure: Since infrastructure plays a vital role in any school, the same has to be planned in great detail, including but not limited to spacious classrooms, a well-set library, playgrounds, laboratories, with a suitable design and structure adhering to all the rules of the affiliated board.
• Enrolment Projection: It is advisable to plan for the intended capacity of the school, and for the growth of enrolment from the first year to the peak-capacity year. Enrolment projection based on market demand also needs to be taken into consideration while planning.
• Recruiting qualified staff: Comprehensive planning on the recruitment procedure needs to be established, with details of the positions, minimum qualification, experience, interview process, probation periods, appointment letters, confirmation letters and more.
• Marketing and Publicity: A detailed planning on marketing, branding, and publicity through a variety of strategies - website, newspaper advertisements, special events, radio, brochures, hoardings, social media, is a necessity to promote the new school.
• Fee Structure: An appropriate fee-structure has to be planned, which is convenient both for parents and gives the school promoters a fair profit too.
• Policies and Procedures: Before the school becomes operational, a comprehensive plan regarding all policies and procedures, which goes beyond student and staff handbooks, needs to be in place for the smooth functioning of the school in all areas concerning all stakeholders- management, staff, students and parents.
Further, when the school becomes operational and reaches the management stage, plans related to the running of the school need to be in place. In conclusion, it can be said that planning is the foundation of all successful ventures. It creates a universal buy-in and understanding of the goals and objectives, as well as defines the actions required to guide the institution towards their achievement. Ultimately, plans need to be implemented properly for the long-term success of any organization.
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.