Schools play a vital and crucial role in shaping the personality of children. While industries make products, schools make people who will make everything else in the society. The importance of schooling in human life cannot be overemphasized. Since time immemorial, every culture has evolved its own unique ideas and models of schooling. Though the necessity of educating children through schools has been widely felt down the ages, ‘what to teach children’ has always varied between culture and culture and from time to time. Since ancient times, the content imparted and methodology adopted in teaching children have undergone a considerably big change. With the advent of modernization in every sphere of activity, the purpose, format and methodology of schooling have undergone a phenomenal change. Today, schooling has become a highly technical and challenging domain since every school must be able to incorporate the fast evolving syllabi and teaching methodology in addition to addressing the rapidly changing concerns and expectations. However, starting, running and managing a school is always a good service to the society besides being a highly rewarding and satisfying experience. However, all that educationists need to bear in mind is that imparting values and ethics through education is an essential prerequisite for schools since more than imparting knowledge, schools must discharge their responsibility in man making and nation building by working out a positive and developmental change in students’ personalities. It is said, Education without character is not only useless, but positively dangerous to the society. In this regard, while welcoming any idea to start schools, we must always ensure that every school is based on sound moral and ethical principles and teach the same to the students.
Types of Schools
The domain of School education is indeed vast like an ocean. There are many types of schools like government run schools, schools run by NGOs and aided by the government and private schools. Talking of starting a school, let us talk of private schools alone. Under private schools, there are again three types namely day schools, partly residential schools (schools with hostel facilities for those in need) and fully residential schools. A new venture in the school arena can be any one of these three types. However, since residential schools require a lot of resources, one must step into this segment only when an adequate financial back up is available. At the same time, it is also always possible to slowly shift to a residential school after starting a day school once things settle and a comfortable flow of funds starts. There are also different types of schools depending on the educational board which has recognized it or to which it is affiliated. Apart from the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi), ISCE (Indian School Certificate Examination), Anglo Indian and state educational boards which either recognize schools or to which schools can be affiliated. Before deciding on the board to seek affiliation, it is always good to consult the existing schools of similar nature to take their advice. Once you have decided on the type of school you want to run, now you are ready to give a start.
Forming a Trust
Ventures like setting up of educational institutions in India is always considered a non-profitable voluntary service. The guidelines issued by various educational boards require that schools are always started and managed by Trusts or Societies of non-profitable nature. Thus forming a trust is a primary requirement before starting a school. Anyone desirous of starting a school must therefore give a start to his or her venture by forming a trust or society. There should be a minimum of three members to start a trust while there is no upper limit as to how many members can be included in the trust. The members coming forward to form a trust must be like minded sharing a common set of principles and objectives. Forming a new trust means listing out some objectives and drafting a trust deed. An advocate with a prior experience in drafting the trust deeds for schools will be of great help in this regard. Since the educational boards have a number of typical expectations with regard to the trust deeds, it is always a good idea to go through similar trust deeds that have been already approved by an educational board. After drafting, the trust deed must be registered at the office of the Registrar in the locality where the Trust office is located. Once registered, the trust or society is now ready to start and run the school.
Land and Location
The immediate task after forming a trust is to find a suitable location and purchase the required land. Adequate land and space is an essential prerequisite to run a school comfortably. Once a school develops, the cost of lands adjacent to the schools rise up and the schools themselves cannot purchase additional lands if required later. Therefore, investing as much as possible in the land and procuring a little more than adequate land is very important for schools. Educational boards in India require that a school should have a minimum of 2 acres of land in suburbs and outskirts of cities, while one acre is acceptable inside city limits. In selecting the location of a school, several factors like accessibility from the various feeding points need to be considered. Even in case of residential schools, easy approachability is an issue. Once an adequate land is identified and the price is negotiated, the same need to be registered in the name of the trust.
Buildings and Amenities
Before starting any construction on the site purchased, a proper plan and layout must be prepared with the help of licensed experts. Getting the building approved by the governmental authorities is a minimum criterion that schools must fulfill for getting approved by any education board. Later, this will also be useful for getting the building license and various other certifications connected to the process of affiliation. In preparing the layout for the building, educationists must ensure that there is enough room for future expansion and the scope of future development is properly considered. There should be enough number of rooms with enough space for proper seating arrangements. In India, the minimum space prescribed by various boards for a class of 30-40 students is 400 sft. However, comfortable dimension for a class would be 500 sft. In addition to classes, the other necessities are office space, space for administration, teachers’ and staff room, library and reading room, store room, games room, toilets and laboratories for science, computers and mathematics. Since visual learning is highly stressed these days, you may also think of an audio visual room for future developments. If you are not able to construct all these rooms during the very start, you can still proceed slowly by improving the infrastructure gradually after starting the school. However, you must fulfill the basic requirements with regard to infrastructure stipulated by the board to which you would like to affiliate the school. In designing the layout, plans must be made for proper sanitary and waste water disposal arrangements, internal arrangements for supply of water for bathing (in case of residential schools), cleaning, washing and drinking by drilling a bore-well or tube-well and connecting water motors, pumps, construction of storage tanks and pipelines for inflow and supply of water for various purposes. Arrangements also needed for the installation of fire safety equipments.
There are a few things that educationists need to bear in mind with regard to equipping the classrooms. Classes must be well ventilated with large windows allowing enough lighting and air circulation. The minimum amenities required for each class include furniture for teachers as per the style desired by the school, writing boards, display boards, marker pens, chalk pieces, erasers or dusters as per requirement, storage racks for class documents and records, cupboard for teachers, storage arrangements for keeping the books, notebooks and stationery materials of the students. Depending on the financial status of the school, audio visual equipments, smart interactive boards or plasma display boards can be installed in the classrooms. Some value additions to classes can be slide projectors, digital pens, LCD projectors and over head projectors. In each of the classrooms, a miniature library support material and teaching aids including dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, table books, formula handbooks and other reference material can be stored in separate storage units in each class room.
Each school needs to have a well equipped library combined with a spacious and well furnished reading room. The minimum number of books required for a school library is 2,500 according to the specifications issued to schools by various education boards. Libraries need to have an index register listing out all the books and issue register recording the issues and returns of library books to students and teachers. It is a matter of prestige to schools to possess a wide collection of illustrated books under various titles and subjects. Library is a potential learning resource for every school.
Each school needs to have a separate laboratory for each of the science subjects. While CBSE expects only a composite science laboratory for affiliation till secondary classes, most state boards expect the schools to have a separate laboratory arrangement for each of the science subjects. Therefore, schools can get ready with four laboratories for physics, chemistry, biology and computer learning. Though computer lab is not a stipulated requirement till secondary classes, it is highly expected that each school has a well equipped computer lab. The other laboratories that are mandated by the education boards during recent days include math lab and a storage unit for social studies featuring maps, globes and models related to geography. Schools can also arrange for an arts education room and activity corner for crafts learning and doing project works.
A well designed and well equipped playground is a very essential feature for schools. Schools need to have an adequate supply of games and sports materials and gadgets in addition to the arrangements required for a set of games that the school would like to give the students.
Schools can give a good facelift for the campus by providing display and notice boards, display of quotations and good sayings, traffic symbols, ‘academic achievers and performers’ details, displays regarding important personalities, accomplished educationists and reputed scientists. The ambience inside the schools should be welcoming with adequate furniture arrangement and waiting rooms or spaces for parents and visitors. Arrangements to dispense purified drinking water and recreation facilities are essential to build up a positive image for the school.
Schools need to think of transport arrangements for students and teachers. To start with, schools can hire transport arrangements from reliable providers. Own vehicles can be purchased later at a stage while the school can afford it.
It is even truer with schools that first impression is the best impression. Schools can impress the parents and students only with the help of good teachers. Therefore, it is always important to recruit the best teachers and support staff, who can reflect the motto and aspirations of the school. Educational boards require that the classes – teacher ratio should be 1:1.5. In other words, the total number of teachers (excluding the principal and physical education teacher) should be one and a half times more than the number of classes. In recruiting the teachers, you must also take into account their qualifications and basic subjects. Education boards in India have mandated TTC (Teachers Training Certificate) for the teachers of primary classes and a bachelor degree and B.Ed (Bachelor of education) as the minimum requirement for high school teachers. In case of higher secondary classes, the teachers must have completed a masters degree in the subject they would like to handle in addition to B.Ed. Recruiting adequate number of teachers with the required basic qualification is very important since this is one of the primary requisites for fulfilling the criteria for affiliation to educational boards.
The role of the principal is very crucial in running and developing a school. Therefore, extreme care needs to be exercised in appointing the principal. The educational boards require that the principal should have minimum of 5 years of teaching experience and three years of administrative experience in recognized schools in addition to a basic graduate degree and B.Ed. The principal should not be a part of the trust running the school or a relative of a member of the trust. Following the recruitment of the principal, the other responsibilities of recruiting teachers and staff members and admitting students can be entrusted to him or her. While recruiting the teachers, you can always ask for testimonials from the schools they worked earlier to check whether their track record was commendable. In fact, it will be a good idea to talk to some respectable people either in person or phone who can attest their credentials and credibility. Apart from the principal and teachers to teach various subjects, the other posts need to be filled by the school are a physical education teacher, librarian, accountants, office assistants, watchman and cleaners. If possible, a student counselor will be of good use since there is an increasing need in schools for this profile.
Educational boards including the CBSE also require that the pay scales given to the teachers and staff should be on par with that given by the state government where the school is located. Immediately following the recruitment, the schools should ask the teachers and staff members to open individual bank accounts into which the monthly salaries will be directly deposited. Again this is one of the requirements stipulated by the educational boards for giving affiliation. It will be convenient if all the bank accounts including the bank account of the school are maintained with the same banker (preferably a nationalized bank) so that the process of transfer of salaries is easy.
On appointment, the managements need to get a service agreement signed between the employee and head of the institution. The service agreement will have to specify the rules and regulations pertaining to the school, the salaries and benefits agreed upon, nature of work and responsibilities assigned to the concerned staff or teacher and procedures for resignations, suspensions and dismissals. The management will have to issue an appointment order as a mark of recruitment duly signed by the head of the institution specifically mentioning the post to which appointment was made and the salary and other benefits agreed upon in addition to details regarding increments.
Reaching out the Masses and Admissions:
Advertising the school during the initial stage is very essential. Advertisements for schools can be done through newspapers and periodicals, display boards at important locations, handbills and pamphlets, local television channels and other available media. However, the best advertisement for the school happens once the school is run and recognized by the parents and students. Satisfied parents and students become the spokespersons for the schools whose word will have a greater impact on those who like to admit their children.
Before advertising about the school, the schools need to decide on the fee structure, breakup of the fee payable and the mode of payment. Some states in India have stipulated the maximum amount of fees that can be collected by the schools. The fee structure should take into account the salaries and other expenditure, maintenance and development of infrastructure, the facilities given to students and transport arrangements if any.
In the initial stage of a school, giving competitive merit tests to students seeking admission will not be of much use since there may not be a great inflow of students. Therefore, a minimum proficiency test to ascertain the eligibility of the student to a given class will be enough. The other things need to be considered in admitting children include the date of birth of the child as given in the birth certificate and the transfer certificate given by the earlier school from which the student completed or discontinued a given class. However, transfer certificate is applicable in case of admissions till 1st standard. Date of birth must be properly taken into account since the students must have completed 15 years before they appear for the 10th class board examinations. Though over age will not be a big problem, under age is certainly an issue since in case of under age, relaxation must be obtained from the concerned education board before enrolling the student for the class 10th public examination. Education boards also require that the maximum number of students admitted in a class must not exceed 40.
During admissions, the schools may ask the parents to fill up the application form with necessary details including information about parents, date of birth of the children, class to which admission is sought, details of the classes and school studied, mother tongue and languages known, nationality, religion, social group, blood group, marks of identification, details of disabilities, ailments and allergies if any, addresses for communication, detailed contact information of the parents including email ids, phone numbers and postal addresses both permanent and temporary and the details pertaining to the education, profession and annual income of the parents. The documents that parents need to submit to the management include birth certificate, community certificate in case of communities entitled for concessions and transfer certificate from the previous school in case of classes beyond 1st standard. During admissions, the principal can hold detailed discussion with the parents to know their expectations and aspirations regarding their children. This will also give an occasion to detail them regarding the rules, regulations and the expectations of the school and management.
School management Committee
In fulfilling the requirements for affiliation, it is essential to form a school management committee. Headed by the representative from the trust running the school, the essential members of the school management committee will include the correspondent, principal, two senior educationist members, two parent representatives, two senior teachers of the school and others as needed. Once the school management committee is formed, an affidavit must be formulated stating whether the members of the school management committee are related or not related to each other. If related, the relationship must be specified. The affidavit should be signed by a magistrate. This is one of the most important documents required to be submitted as one of the important enclosures for getting affiliation from the respective education board.
Affiliation or recognition by Education Boards
Normally, affiliation or recognition of a school by an educational board is done only when the school is running and not before starting. Schools need not bother about affiliation or recognition by a board before starting the school. The process and formalities with regard to affiliation or recognition differs between boards. Therefore, the schools need to start classes accordingly giving enough room for fulfilling the conditions stipulated by the concerned board.
Once the school is started, the managements need to take the necessary steps immediately to affiliate or get recognition to the school. Before applying, the following certifications must be got by the school and copies need to be submitted as enclosures along with the applications submitted to the concerned education boards granting affiliation or recognition. The necessary certifications include Building License (A,B,C,D) which can be got from a structural engineer and Tahsildhar, building stability certificate from a licensed engineer, fire safety license, sanitary certificate, drinking water certificate, No Objection Certificate from the state education board in case of affiliation to the CBSE, Delhi, land certificate (the extent of the land and certificate that all the land is in one single piece), affidavit regarding the trust and school management committee duly signed by a magistrate and affidavit regarding the non-proprietary nature of the trust running the school signed by a magistrate. In addition, the application for affiliation to an education board will have to be filled with all the details with regard to the infrastructure, facilities, details of principal, teachers and staff including their age, qualification, experience in years, subjects and classes handled and salaries and other benefits paid.
Usually, affiliation is a long process extending over two years. In case of primary schools, affiliation must be got before starting 4th class and in case of high schools, affiliation must be got before starting 9th class. Therefore, the managements should give enough time and room for the process to get over before the first batch comes to these classes. The recent revision with regard to affiliation process does not allow the schools to get affiliation till secondary classes. Therefore schools can only start lower classes till 3rd standard at a stretch during the first year and grow gradually to higher classes. During the first year following the admissions, the schools can arrange to get the necessary certifications required to fulfill the process of affiliation. In the second year, the applications for approval, affiliation or recognition by the concerned education board must be submitted before the end of June month. The process of affiliation consists of approval of the application by the board after studying it in detail, forming an inspection committee, inspecting the school and verifying the fulfillment of the stipulated conditions, recommendations by the inspecting committee and grant of affiliation or approval. Getting approved by an education board sets a good pace for every school for a royal journey.
Essentials for School Administration
Schools need to get ready with the following documents and accessories during the very start of the venture. Application forms for admission, admission register, fee receipts, write-ups, pamphlets and handouts regarding the school, attendance registers for teachers, staff and students, transfer certificate book, movement register, stock register, stationery required for classes, principal, teachers and office use, salary register, individual files and folders for students, teachers and staff to store their personal documents, transfer certificates and other certificates.
Special Requirements for Residential schools
Residential schools must get ready with the arrangements for a comfortable stay for the children. A good warden or manager needs to be appointed who will have to be ably supported by a group of support staff. Depending on the style visualized by the school, the lodging arrangements can be either individual, small groups or dormitory. Separate rooms for boys and girls can be constructed accordingly with adequate and customized toilet and bathroom facilities and storage units in the rooms to give space for the children to keep their belongings.
External or internal arrangements need to be made for washing the clothes of the children. Either the schools can appoint required number of laborers to wash the clothes or give the clothes for laundry. In either systems there are advantages as well as disadvantages. In this regard, schools may take the suggestions from other established residential schools. Arrangements also need to be made for hair cutting by arranging for periodical visits of hair style professionals. A separate room is advisable for this purpose with required amenities. Residential schools need to have a good number of support staff for cleaning, assisting young children, hostel maintenance and arranging various supplies for children. Storing emergency medicines and first aid kits in adequate numbers is a crucial necessity for schools in general and residential schools in particular. A basic training in first aid needs to be given to some of the teachers and support staff including the warden of the hostel.
A well furnished kitchen is a crucial necessity for residential schools. The preliminaries required for setting up a good kitchen include purchase of vessels for cooking and serving; purchasing plates, tumblers and cups for eating; ovens and cooking accessories either gas, electric or steam boilers, water purifiers, adequate number of gas connections, store room and utensils for storing provisions and vegetables, refrigerators, arrangements for washing vessels, hand and plate wash basins and dinning arrangements with required furniture. In consultation with local people and other residential schools, the suppliers of vegetables, provisions and other requirements can be finalized. In this regard, the quality of the materials supplied, the nature of service rendered, transport arraignments and the pricings need to be taken into account.
Adequate lodging arrangements need to be provided by the school for the warden and support staff inside the school campus. Providing staff and teachers quarters for teachers and encouraging them to stay in the campus will supply a good back up of learned man power inside the campus to handle non-school hour guidance and additional support for students.
Tips for Effective Management
- Give a great importance to prayers and spiritual activities inside the school and make them part of the daily routine without giving them a religious colour. Group prayers are always more powerful and a spiritual ambience inside a school is invariably endowed with greater potentials to motivate the teaching, supporting and learning community. This will also ensure that the people acquire moral and ethical values and a god-fearing attitude resulting in enhanced cooperation and increased performance.
- Constant supervision and motivation is essential to maintain the quality of performance in teachers and students. Administrators in a school need to be vibrant and dynamic with lot of innovative ideas. They need to constantly motivate the entire community in the school through public speeches, group meetings and personal counseling as and when required. It has to be borne in the mind that people work either under compulsion or motivation and the later is a more effective tool than the former since the former instructs while the later inspires.
- Always make it a point to make your teachers and students happy by establishing a personal rapport with them. Rewards, appreciations and good words will go a long way in keeping them on the productive track. No school is a one-man show and the extent of teamwork and effective leadership determine the quality of output in a school. Encourage the students and teachers to work as a team and solicit the maximum cooperation from them to push the results forward to yield maximum success rates.
- Pay enough attention to teaching processes and methods in the school. Always try to improve upon the existing methodologies by adopting something new and effective. Exercise greater care to enhance the performance of teachers and students. Good accomplishment and sustained track record with respect to academic performance is one of the major factors that will create a strong brand image for the school.
- Pay attention to slow learners. While special care needs to be given to achievers to bring out the best in them, it is all the more important not to neglect mediocre students. Give them enough attention during non-school hours and arrange for special coaching to push them forward.
- Base the working principles of the school on sound ethical norms. Evolve some good values and ethics customized to be implemented in the school. Remind and enjoin everyone in the school to follow the rules and regulations sincerely. First and foremost, leaders in the school must possess unalloyed character and inspire others by personal example since practice inspires people better than preaching.
- Never compromise on being unpunctual, negligence of responsibilities and lethargic attitudes. Never fail to reward commendable performance which will motivate others while evolving acceptable penalties and punishments for negative behavior. This will make the internal system very strong and productive.
- Establish a good rapport with parents. Be sensitive to the expectations of the parents and respond to them without compromising on the principles, rules and regulations of the school. In the event of impractical demands where they will expect the management to stretch beyond limits, talk to them obligingly and explain that adjustments on the individual side are easier than demanding the system to adjust and all that is expected from them is in the interest of a wider community that is the school. This will prepare them to cooperate better with the management. In interacting with the parents, be prepared to come down and give what you can, while you must also show where you can be tough, of course by using polite words.
- Maintain a good relationship with reputed personalities in the locality, officers in the education boards and government officers. Invite dignitaries to school functions and honor them. You may need their help at times and a prior acquaintance in this manner will help you get things done easily since most people naturally have a soft corner for schools and children in general.
- Always try to showcase the talents of your students and teachers by representing them in the public forum. This can be done by representing your school in sports events, competitions, academic, cultural and competitive examinations and programs. Always try to participate in seminars, educational fairs and discussions organized by other schools, educational boards and educational agencies. This will help you stay up-to-date with the developments in the education field.
- Always keep an open eye to learning from others, reputed educationists, other schools and the world at large. Try your best to implement good ideas in your school and try to keep up to date with the advancing technology, teaching methods and growth across a number of sectors.
- Organize innovative programs in the school and project the skills, capabilities and talents of your school community. Making many people visit the school will create a positive image for the school. Publications and newsletters will create a good reputation for the school and will help you reach out a wider community with ease. This will also create a brand name for the school.
- Plan the budget properly and prioritize the expenditure. In making the budget, give room for increments and incentives for teachers, developments in the school, procuring books for the library, equipments for the labs and improving on the teaching aids.
- Arrange to present a welcome ambience to the visitors and parents. Depute a good receptionist to answer the visitors, parents and phone calls. Never make them wait for too long for official purposes, meeting teachers and the principal. Always display the schedule and timing allowed for meetings so that the public is well informed of the regulations of the school. This will also help you avoid getting disturbed.
Wishing a Royal Journey
Establishing a school is one of the noblest ambitions and one of the best forms of social service. Good schools are the backbones of the nation and play a vital role in nation building. Building people is more important than anything else in the society since it is good people who make a good society and a strong nation. Education is a potential arena to work with challenges and prove your real worth as an administrator and leader. The entire system of education is woven around students, parents, management and teachers. The part played by none of these four can be underestimated and together contribute for an effective education process and to mould the children. It is always an exciting process to run a school and running a school is one of the busiest and most challenging commitments. While being able to find a school is a blessed opportunity, the success of a school solely depends on the hard work of the educationists. The set of qualities essential for an educationist include earnest interest in the development of the institution, and the school community at large, sincere pursuit devoid of complaining attitude, dedicated performance, patient hard work, systematic planning, learning from hardships, achievements and failures and leading by example. Once all this is set and ready to go, a royal journey is ahead of you and the experience and outcome will be certainly more rewarding than the heaven itself.
(The article comes from the first-hand experience of the author)