It is hard to find a prototype of a perfect school in India. There are a host of factors that affect the efficiency and desirability of a school. Within the country, schools teaching the same curriculum can vary widely on many parameters. There are elite schools that have legacies of centuries and are far from the reach of the majority and then there are schools that take in a select few through competitive exams. That does not make the scenario bleak, far from it. There are new schools with the advantage of technology and curricular innovation that have proliferated in recent years. Although the numbers of the schools have increased it cannot be implied that the quality has been compromised necessarily.
Boards of education like CBSE and ICSE and International organizations including IB and Cambridge International that sponsor school education are systematically pushing schools for higher standards of education and create an educational culture for development of personality traits desirable in a 21st-century cosmopolite. All in all, the school education sector is full of opportunities and choices for students and promoters alike. The flip side of choice is a dilemma. Most parents are restlessly striving to find the best school while some are laboring under the illusion of finding the perfect school.
With the rising income levels and the vision of what the future is going to look like, parents do not compromise, unless they must, in choosing a school for their child. And it does not take a highly educated parent to know what a good school should look like.
We have charted out certain attributes that a school should possess for coming into parents’ notice and influencing their decision--
Curriculum: Curriculum that a school is offering makes a substantial section of parents lock their choice. In fact, parents begin searching for a school affiliated to a particular board. It, however, does not imply that there are no dilemmas that parent face while deciding the board of education. They compare and assess and reach out to various sources of information before deciding on a particular board. Parental choices and shift in their choices have made schools introduce international curriculum besides the one they originally prescribed to. Schools that started a decade or so ago have come across such crossroads as the avenues have expanded. Schools starting now should take into account such exigencies and be prepared for the expedients that progress warrants.
Co-curriculum: While the curriculum is chosen by majority by exercising all possible choices, the inventory of the co-curricular activities is not something that is only marginally decisive. With the mandatory and conventional co-curricular activities that include sports, debates, dramatics etc. the field is open for innovation and for complementing pedagogy. Extra-curricular activities have within their bounds the much-cited byword ‘all-round development’, frequency and sincerity of their perusal are what parents must find out.
Faculty and Leadership: It is not difficult for the parents to know and scan the faculty that you have recruited for the school, let alone the leadership that is widely known. Qualification is something the parents see in a teacher as desirable, experience does add the bonus points. A young faculty with marginal experience is not something that makes parents think twice. It is not conjectural to say that the parents are biased in favor of a young faculty and the new schools should not find it difficult to acquire young, sensitive and qualified faculty members. Those leading the school are expected to be experienced and it, of course, helps to have renowned people in the leadership positions. Experts in their fields are good for appeal and great for the sustainability of the school.
Student Composition: The student body that a school house reflects tangibly the intangible values that the school purports to have. The diversity in the composition of the students, in the case of boarding schools, obviously reflects the popularity and outreach of the school. The versatility of the socio-cultural and linguistic backgrounds implies a productive intermingling and tolerance besides interpersonal and intrapersonal traits. Boarding or day school, at any rate, student body inevitably functions as a proverbial ambassador of the school and its achievements are inextricably linked with the name of the school.
Infrastructure: A school true to its vision never compromises on the infrastructure. The outlook of the populous is influenced by the overt features of the school building and interior. With the understanding of the correlation between the school design and learning outcomes and school architecture becoming increasingly specialized, it is hardly deniable that the infrastructure is posited to be a determinant of the parental choice for a school.
Technology: Few will argue that times have changed, or more aptly, they are constantly changing at a rate unprecedented. We can’t help but credit technology as the driver of change almost in all spheres. Education is far from an exception, in fact, it is an outstanding example to cite for the votaries of unbridled technological adoption. Motivational levels, faculty, and management relationship, overall school management, time economy, enhanced contact with the parents; technology have wide-ranging applications in schools today. Technology in the classroom is highly desirable and the computer labs should be state of the art. It is technology that makes the value of the young faculty apparent in the schools.
Environment: The environment that surrounds the campuses is the most palpable factor that has the power to influence parental judgment. A serene green campus dotted with trees has irresistible appeal and its fusion with concrete makes for better environs enveloped in concrete.
The playground and the outdoors that encourage interaction are dependent on architectural master planning and when the choice is not scarce between schools with comparable features, the balance is highly likely to tilt in the favor of a school endowed with an inviting environment.
School Brand: It will be disingenuous to say that the given the broad-mindedness and search for novelty, parents are immune to the charms of the brand. Brands reap their legacies but legacies alone cannot ensure the future because they cannot be outsourced or franchised. Nonetheless, dogged by dilemma parents are prone to short cut of thought and opt for brands. However, own brand schools are giving the established brands competition they have never seen or perhaps even imagined and the resultant desperation has been impelling the brands into a battle of wits and to compromise on many levels and distribute their name rather liberally if not charitably.
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.