A strategic approach to building a successful educational institution
How to start a school?
Be clear in your vision
If you are going to be building the next generation of builders, doers, and thinkers, it is important that the school that educates them to have a clear vision of what they are aiming to achieve. It is not enough to say, I want to build a great school. Instead, consider what this would involve at the ground level. Question what values your school would inculcate in students, the steps it would take to reinforce this messaging for parents, teachers, and students, and what success would look like. A clear vision will give everyone a goal to drive towards – without it, all your stakeholders would be stumbling about in the dark without a concrete idea of what they wish to achieve.
Identify a need in the ecosystem
Schools abound on every street in our cities these days. And we know why – they are a great financial investment and a concrete way to contribute to society. In the previous point, we discussed the necessity of a clear-cut vision when setting up a school. But it is not enough to merely have lofty ideals. Instead, your school should address a need in the educational ecosystem. Identifying this need requires research – speaking to teachers, parents, and students is a good start, but it can also be helpful to review educational policy and the status quo to see how your school can add something to the field, instead of being just another school populating our streets.
Ensure all the formalities are complete
Setting up a school is not as simple as hanging a signboard in front of a building. Multiple legal and financial formalities must be completed in order for you to establish a bonafide school. These legal and financial guidelines were put in place to ensure that the school being established adheres to some minimal standard of operation. While it might seem like a hassle to go through the paperwork and dealing with the seemingly endless requirements, these guidelines exist for a reason. They ensure that the school is up to par with other schools, thus creating a basic standard of education in the country, and also protect the people engaging in the school – from teachers to parents to students. It is the responsibility of the management to ensure that all legalities and other requirements have been addressed so that the school may be established clear and free.
Reach out to your core community
Once the vision has been established, a mission identified and all the legal and technical details have been taken care of, your school is ready to open its gates to students. But before you fling them open, consider reaching out to the communities you hope to service. These communities will be defined by the vision and mission of your school. What are you hoping to achieve? Whom will your school best benefit? What are their needs? These are all questions that must be answered in order to understand who your school is targeting. Connecting with your core community is step one to ensuring a stable and enthusiastic student body in your school.
How to improve and grow your school’s daily operations?
Take an active and proactive interest in your school’s daily operations
Your school has opened for business, you have a student body, teachers who are enthusiastic to educate, and a non-education staff that keeps things running smoothly – great! But even if things are running perfectly smoothly, this is not the time to rest on your laurels. Schools may start off with a bang. It might look like the machine is running just fine. But day to day, hands-on supervision and engagement is needed to build a lasting culture that reflects your school’s vision and mission. To do this, it is necessary to be hands-on and proactive in your school’s operations. Alternatively, hiring someone trustworthy to do this is also an option – but choosing this leader is a long and careful process.
Embrace technology for all processes
The time for mere blackboards and chalk is over – modern society needs schools that keep up with it, not archaic institutions that don’t address modern needs. A school established in this day and age needs to embrace technology everywhere it can, not fight it. Technology also makes the day to day running of a school smoother and more hassle-free. It also eliminates unnecessary financial and time waste, while reducing the burdens on humans. Technology like school ERP platforms can help make process driven school functions easy and swift. Easily implementable solutions like Fedena, for example, helps schools reduce labour costs and increase communicativeness.
Create a continual feedback loop
Feedback and iterative changes based on said feedback ensures that your school does not fall into bad habits. Creating a responsive, dynamic school that is swift to address problems and enforce positive change is necessary to establish a good working system that benefits teachers, students, and parents. The first step to this iterative process is to keep channels of communication open for every stakeholder. The people who know what is not working best are the people who deal with issues and trouble with the existing status quo. Create feedback loops where stakeholders feel comfortable approaching you about problems in a timely fashion to ensure swift redressal.
Excel in your hiring, training and retention
Building a talent pipeline that serves your students well is necessary to ensure their success and consequentially your school’s. Building a pipeline that helps teachers excel and grow within your school ensures that you retain the best of the best educators your community has to offer. Stories of the difference a good teacher can make in a student’s life abound, so it is a no-brainer to make this a key metric for your school’s success. Giving teachers the infrastructure and tools necessary to give their best to their students means that they will really be able to empower their students to succeed. Create an interview process that really aligns with your school’s vision and mission. Train teachers continually to ensure that they are implementing the best and most modern teaching techniques. Implement a retention system that holds onto and rewards the cream of the crop. Building a great teaching body is the first step to success.
Market your successes well
So you have implemented all the strategies discussed here, in addition to some other ones that you found useful. You have a thinking student body, happy and productive teachers, a non-education staff that functions without flaws. Now it is time to blow your trumpet about how well the school is doing. Rely on marketing – word of mouth and planned campaigns – to share success stories from your schools. Are you seeing superlative student results? Are your teachers winning awards for your work? Have you gone multiple days without any mishaps to handle? Share these wins with your community of parents, teachers, students and well-wishers and encourage them to share them with others. This helps build the brand of your school and soon you will see your school’s name becoming synonymous with excellence.