Step 1 - Before you start
Before you start to investigate all the aspects required to open a new school or campus, there are a few items you should initially consider.
Items to consider:
There are many reasons why you might want to establish a new school. A common reason is the desire to provide an option that is not currently available or because of a belief that the current education offering in an area is inadequate. It is important to identify the distinctions the new school would offer and provide an outline of how the new school will deliver these differences.
If you believe that a new school may be needed, you need to consider the time-lag in establishing the school and make yourself aware of what other schools might be “in plan” and will exist at the time of opening.
The structure of the school, how it is governed and its culture are important to developing the values, beliefs and principles of how individuals behave within the organisation. In setting up a school, you need to consider what entity will be the governing body and the Approved Authority able to receive government funding. This includes consideration of whether you want to be part of a group or system that may provide support in areas such as curriculum, shared resources, educational philosophy, and even governance.
To be a registered school in Queensland, the school is required to deliver the Australian Curriculum or an approved alternative. In deciding on the curriculum to be offered, you would need to define what year levels will be catered for, if there will be a curriculum speciality and how the material will be delivered. This may also include consideration of distance education, special assistance, overseas students and boarding facilities.
A school cannot operate in Queensland without being accredited and accreditation for a school is site specific, with each school site (if there is more than one) needing to go through the accreditation approval process before the school can operate on that location.
The local council must approve use of the site for a school and the area must have school zoning at the local council level. This may require a process with a town planner to request and gain a “material change of use” approval to be able to operate a school on that site. Before you can start this process, you would need to know the proposed site address, what the current local government zoning is, what buildings and facilities currently exist on that site and if the site will be owned or leased.
If a location has not been identified, the Queensland Government’s Statistician’s Office displays areas in demand on their Interactive School Demand Tool. The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning also lists Priority Development Areas (PDA), which are parcels of land the State Government has earmarked for accelerated development. The master plans for these large new urban areas include provision for community facilities such as schools.
Independent Schools Queensland maintains a list of potential school sites, which you may also consider.
You should expect that from the time you lodge the application for accreditation with the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board (NSSAB) it will take approximately 9 months following the submission of the application to gaining approval to commence on the site. If there are any issues or questions about your application, this process will take longer.
It is realistic to expect that the whole process of finding a site, preparing and submitting the paperwork, and gaining accreditation and then being ready to open following the approval of the application will take a minimum of two years. Depending on the accreditation process and any possible site issues, the entire project may take significantly longer.
While there are recurrent grants available from Federal and State governments to assist with the operational costs of running a school, these are not available until after your school is operating. The initial costs associated with establishing the school and the initial operating costs (until you receive school fees and recurrent government grants) will need to be covered by donors or via loans.
Establishing a school requires not only financial support but a team of people prepared to undertake the work required. It is important to plan both the process to be used and the people needed to assist in the establishment, then subsequently the people who will work in the school.
It is important to confirm you can answer the above questions and that you will be able to adequately fulfil all the above requirements before moving to the investigation phase of opening a new school or campus.
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