How to Start a School in India A Comprehensive Guide
India’s diverse education landscape provides a unique opportunity for individuals aspiring to make a positive impact through education. Whether driven by a passion for teaching or a desire to contribute to society, starting a school in India is a noble and profitable endeavour.
With a population of over 1.3 billion people, India is home to one of the world’s largest student populations, and the demand for quality education continues to grow exponentially. According to statistics, the education sector in India is estimated to reach a staggering $180 billion by 2025, showcasing the immense potential for educational entrepreneurs.
Let’s explore the comprehensive steps and considerations required to embark on the journey of starting a school in India, from understanding the legal and regulatory framework to creating an effective curriculum that can shape the future of countless young minds. So, if you’re eager to contribute to the nation’s educational landscape and are ready to navigate the complexities of the Indian education system, read on to discover how you can turn your dream of opening a school into a rewarding reality.
Making an Initial Plan of Action
There are several factors to consider when starting a school in India. First, you need to create a basic blueprint or plan of action for how you are going to execute your vision of creating an educational institution. You need to either associate yourself with a trust or society and finalise the levels of categorisation of your school, which in layperson’s terms means the number of grades you are planning to cater to, like 1st-8th, 1st-10th, or 1st-12th grade. However, if your class goes beyond 9th-12th grade, then your school has to be affiliated with a particular education board that is operating in the country.
Additionally, there are a number of legal notices and permits you have to procure to move forward with starting a school in India.
Furthermore, the location of your school plays a huge role in the kind of laws and permits that govern you. For example, larger metropolitan cities have different school requirements and different local mandates as compared to semi-urban or rural cities and areas.
Conducting research about the needs of the surrounding locality, analysing the competition and creating a unique selling point for your school as to how you can fill the gaps can help guide your decision-making process.
Crafting a Vision and Mission
A school’s success hinges on a clear vision and mission. Identify which niche area you wish to specialise in as an institution. Whether it is a unique curriculum design, separate electives for students, etc., exploring what your philosophy shall be will help you have a clearer idea of the kind of school you wish to build.
Furthermore, finding the right name for your school that is aligned with your vision and mission will help you project the desired image. In India, schools are often named after Gods or after the local city, like how Delhi Public School is named after its city of origin.
Additionally, adding the word ‘International’ or ‘Global/World School’ to your school’s name often is used as a marketing technique to attract students and parents as they are inherently inclined to think that the school is better than its peers due to this suffix.
Your school’s name and logo should clearly reflect your vision and mission, in an attractive and succinct manner.
Budgeting for the setup and initial operations of a school requires careful consideration.
Usually, to open a basic, primary school in India, a minimum amount of ₹ 5-6 lakhs is essential. Along with this, proof of having at least ₹15 lakh in your bank account is also needed, if you are in the process of procuring a loan. The average estimate for setting up a 10+2 school is about ₹ 2 crores, which may vary based on the city of establishment, land costs etc.
Getting a loan is always a viable option, but one has to provide the bank with a detailed business blueprint for the school for the next 5-10 years, along with average expenditure estimates and the cost of running the establishment, including salaries of staff, cost of land, amenities and equipment, furniture, food, electricity and other overheads.
Interestingly, a bank will only be willing to finance not more than 60-70% of the project cost, so proper financial planning is crucial at this stage.
Being associated with a trust or society is helpful in this scenario as finding potential investors and contacts will be easier, provided that you are judicious with your resources and have transparent financial dealings with the parties involved.
Understanding Legal Requirements and Procedures
Before diving into the complexities of starting a school, it’s crucial to understand the regulatory framework governing education in India. The Ministry of Education and various state education boards play pivotal roles in setting guidelines and standards for schools. Depending on your location, you may have to adhere to different state and local laws.
Getting permission from your local municipality is the first step, along with procuring the necessary licences in compliance with the board of education you wish to follow and the level of school you wish to establish. Thorough documentation throughout the registration and establishment process is key to a strong legal background for starting a school in India.
Location and Infrastructure
Choosing the right location and designing an effective infrastructure are pivotal elements in the success of a school.
The land and infrastructure requirements vary from place to place, depending on whether the location is in a metropolitan city or in a smaller town. The requirements are also dependent upon the board you are choosing to comply with.
Namely, there are 4 major boards which operate in India:
- Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)
- Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE/ISCE)
- International Baccalaureate/Board (IB)
- State Boards affiliated with the 29 states of India
Depending on the board, the land requirements vary, with CBSE stipulating that a minimum of 1 acre of land is necessary to run a school in metropolitan or smaller cities, ICSE stating that a minimum of half an acre of land with guidelines for the sizes of classrooms. Apart from procuring the land, the school’s governing body also has to obtain an NOC from the DOE of the state as well as an Essential Certificate to certify the need for a school in that particular area.
Construction & Starting School
Based on your respective board’s guidelines, the construction of your school should take place. A minimum requirement of 400 sq. ft per classroom is mandated, along with science and computer labs, playgrounds, common areas, art rooms, stage, library, staff rooms, admin offices etc.
After the construction of your school, one has to apply to the DOE of the State Government to be recognised as a viable institution. As mentioned above, procuring the NOC is necessary to start operations, along with getting approvals for various clearances.
Keep in mind that the entire process of appointment of staff, setting up of infrastructure and furniture, buying equipment and devices, etc, is a time-consuming and often financially cumbersome process. Keeping a slow and steady rate of progress with these tasks aids in a viable setting up of a school.
Choosing Board & Developing Curriculum
Customising the curriculum to align with Indian education standards is a critical step. Consider the needs of your target demographic and align the curriculum accordingly. Customisation based on local requirements can set your school apart and cater to specific community needs.
A minimum of one year of operations is necessary for applying to CBSE/ICSE, and three years of operations to apply for IB. The boards have certain specific rules and parameters that are necessary for affiliation.
Special permissions also need to be taken in case of approval of the Middle-Class syllabus or to upgrade to a Secondary or Senior Secondary Level of education, where a set time period of 1 year of operations till 9th grade is necessary.
In the era of digital transformation, integrating educational technology is paramount. Not only does it aid students by creating an interactive and holistic learning experience through various learning tools, but it also makes it easier for teachers to analyse and monitor student progress and help them to provide more in-depth and personalised feedback.
While the right infrastructure and affiliations are very important for student development, in-classroom learning is solely dependent on the tools and mediums of instruction employed by the educators. An immersive learning experience is not only beneficial for a greater and more detailed understanding of concepts, but it creates an intrinsic desire to learn and explore various parts of the academic curriculum. This inherent curiosity is essential for great success in studies, and it builds interest in subjects and specialisations for a later stage in life.
EdTech solutions providers like Extramarks have transformed the academic landscape by providing the most customisable and accessible version of learning to each student, right at their fingertips. Using such tools in schools will only promote a desire for higher learning and empower students with excellence.
Staff Recruitment and Training
The backbone of any successful school is its staff. The art of hiring qualified teaching and administrative professionals isn’t a lost one and is an important part of the smooth running of the organisation as a whole.
Recruiting the right people for the job, who possess the correct qualifications, such as significant work experience in the field and a postgraduate teaching degree, along with having an attitude of positive reinforcement of learning, goes a long way. When it comes to hiring your principal, look for someone with strong leadership skills and a B.Ed degree along with a Masters in a particular teaching subject.
Constantly training your staff is also just as important as hiring the correct personnel for the job. Continuous developmental workshops and in-depth classes about technology integration and new trends in education are critical in shaping a robust team of educators. Employing the right technological tools is just as important because it not only aids the teaching process but also helps the teachers get a more detailed and thorough review of their students and how they can further help them improve.
Tools like Extramarks Assessment Centre help the teacher and the administration employ actionable analytics in the documentation and grading process, as well as simplify the assessment and grading process with instant features and online assignments.
Marketing and Branding
Building a strong brand identity is essential for attracting students and parents. Develop a compelling brand story, create an engaging online presence, and employ effective marketing strategies like promotional advertisements in newspapers, brochures, hoardings etc.
Set up a school website and keep it updated with the highlights and achievements of the teachers, students and the institution itself. Additionally, you can even send out mailers to potential customers and other parties. This shall help attract interested parents to allow their kids to join your school. Highlighting your school’s unique features in these branding techniques shall help you to stand out.
Post-promotions, one can open the school office to begin admission interviews. The school can conduct an admission test for interested students. Your recognised board will also have certain standards as to how to admit students into your institution. Parameters like the upper limit of students per classroom, a school uniform, curriculum, syllabus according to board guidelines, school rules and regulations, also need to be set up at this time. Crafting a transparent and inclusive admission policy and streamlining the admissions process will also contribute to a positive first impression.
Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement
Establishing quality standards in an institution is an ongoing process. Starting a school is a time-consuming endeavour, which may not always give instant returns. The developmental and building period, along with the time it takes to get affiliation, may seem extremely daunting. Plus, continuous improvement of the institute through assessments, feedback, and teacher training programs is a part of the ongoing process of running a school.
It’s often challenging as the return on investment is not always apparent, but in the long term, it has a lot of benefits as you can shape young minds into the citizens of tomorrow. Continuous improvement is the only way to stay ahead of the learning curve and provide the best for the students. You must anticipate certain challenges and aspects that may need vigilant attention throughout, such as changing educational policies, competition, financial constraints, challenges with student development etc.
The aspects listed below are some of the occurrences that should be paid heed to for constant development and holistic maintenance of the organisation.
- Inclusivity and Diversity
India’s diverse society requires a tailored approach to inclusivity and diversity in schools. Always make sure that your institute isn’t employing favourites or is being partial to any one part of the community, as that can lead to severe backlash. Try to be tolerant, and aid those who require support.
- Infrastructure Maintenance
Ensuring the routine maintenance of school infrastructure is also crucial for optimal functionality. Regular upkeep will help in ease of operations and create a healthy environment for both students and staff.
- Regulatory Compliance
Stay updated on changing education policies and ensure continuous compliance from your school, as that will prevent any administrative hassles and lead to smooth operations.
- Community Engagement
Build strong ties with the local community so that you can foster a sense of belonging.
Engaging with parents, community leaders, and local businesses creates a supportive network that benefits both students and the school.
Embarking on the journey to start a school in India is a commendable venture that requires dedication, passion, and strategic planning. By understanding the legal landscape, crafting a compelling vision, and embracing best practices in education, aspiring school owners can contribute significantly to the nation’s educational fabric.
Remember, the impact of a well-established school extends far beyond the classroom, shaping the future of the community and the nation at large. So, take the first step, follow the guide, and pave the way for a transformative educational experience experience.
How much does it cost to start a school in India?
Starting a school involves various costs, including infrastructure, staff salaries, and administrative expenses. The total cost can vary widely based on location and facilities. It’s advisable to create a detailed budget to understand and plan for all expenses.
What are the legal requirements for starting a school in India?
Legal requirements include obtaining the necessary licences and adhering to educational laws. The process may involve multiple approvals from local education authorities. It’s crucial to research and comply with all legal obligations.
How can I attract students to my school?
Crafting a transparent admission policy and implementing effective marketing strategies are key. Utilise digital platforms, local community engagement, and word-of-mouth to create awareness and attract students.
How to select the most suitable land for a school?
The land requirements for building a school largely depends upon the board you are affiliated with. Each board has separate stipulations for land requirements. For a CBSE affiliated school at least 1.5- 2.0 acres is required, along with a registration or lease process in the name of the Society/Trust/Company 8 that governs the school. For ICSE, the land requirement is 1 acre.
It is favourable if the land is in residential areas, preferably with room for later expansion due to growth. What are the state by-laws for opening a school?
Each state in India has different sets of rules and regulations for school education. In a few states, like Maharashtra for example, the state university handles the +2 or Senior Secondary Education and in others, the same is dealt with by the Education Board as part of the high school curriculum. The norms regarding land requirement, infrastructure, class strength, teacher requirement etc., varies from state to state, and conducting detailed research about the same is advised.
What should be ready before the school begins functioning?
Once the necessary funding is procured, the trust/society is formed, land is purchased, then the 1st phase of the construction should begin. Post-construction, the infrastructure must be stocked and developed by adding furniture, equipment, teaching aids and tools etc. Finally, the Principal and the other administrative and teaching staff should be hired, and all the miscellaneous items such as school supplies, lab equipment, stationary etc should be purchased.
Is technology integration necessary for a school in India?
Yes, technology integration is essential for providing a modern and effective learning experience. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between technology and traditional teaching methods to ensure a holistic approach to education. Edtech is the future of education, not by infringing upon the traditional classroom experience, but by aiding it and making it an immersive and interesting experience. With tools like Extramarks, you get the best of both worlds. Both students and teachers benefit from the various educational features like interactive classrooms, 24/7 doubt clearance sessions, live recordings, personalised feedback and reviews, and many more.
What are the common challenges in starting a school?
Common challenges include financial constraints, regulatory hurdles, and competition. Addressing these challenges requires careful planning, resilience, and a proactive approach to problem-solving.
How can I ensure regulatory compliance for my school?
Staying informed about changes in education policies and maintaining continuous compliance is crucial. Regularly update your processes to align with the latest regulations and seek professional advice when needed.
Last Updated on February 7, 2024