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Step 3 - Strategy

If you have completed ample investigation and from this, you are confident your new school will be successful, the key strategic documents which will assist with school development and accreditation can be prepared.

The documents required to support the application for accreditation with the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board (NSSAB) include:

Independent Schools Queensland also has a library of planning applications and other documentation that would be useful for your reference. Documents include, but are not limited to:

  • Initial assessment report
  • Property information report
  • Contour and detail survey plan
  • Proposal plan
  • Environment and wildlife report
  • Geotechnical investigation report
  • Stormwater management plan
  • Acoustic assessment.

Contact ISQ to view examples of the above plans and reports.

Strategic plan

The starting point of a strategic plan is the vision and clarity of purpose. Typically, a strategic plan would then consist of:

  1. an identification of needs, strengths, opportunities and aspirations
  2. a mission statement (the reasons why the school exists)
  3. the school’s goals (or objectives, or outcome statements)
  4. how the specific priorities (goals or objectives) will be evaluated

Strategic plans can be developed to cover any length of time, however the first strategic plan will often have a shorter timeframe of approximately 3 years.

Master plan

The master plan is a key element in the initial infrastructure development of the intended site or campus. It should be a dynamic document with constant reviews and updates as the school develops and adapts. As an important investment in the future of the school, it may be warranted to utilise the services of professionals to assist with the development of the master plan. 

In developing a master plan, the first step is to locate a suitable site. Once the location has been selected, it would be expected that there would need to be site surveys, infrastructure feasibility studies, buildings and services plans, as well as understanding of regulation requirements, in order to inform the master plan.

Business plan

The business plan advances the strategic plan and master plan into a roadmap for the school as a business entity. It explains the current situation, what the aspirations are and how to get there. A well-developed business plan is crucial when seeking business finance or grants.

Typically, a business plan includes:

  1. executive summary: to provide an overview of the overall concept of the new school. Including more explanation of the vision and the strategic plan for the school.
  2. business profile: the location and purpose of the school including details of company structures, governance model, and senior leadership.
  3. market analysis: describes what the school will offer; the target market, prospective market share, competitors, pricings and location rationale
  4. marketing plan: the intended marketing strategies to attract and retain students, identifying what will differentiate the school and the intended utilisation of these differentials to attract and retain students.
  5. finance plan: a basic financial model which sets out assumptions such as projected student numbers for the first 5 years of operation, initial fee levels and projected fee increases, Commonwealth and State funding and projected levels, staff numbers and associated costs then capital investment (borrowings) and projected repayments. These assumptions are then converted into a very straight forward income and expenditure statement projected for 5 years.
  6. functional brief (or scope): this is a preliminary statement that describes the functionality of the project, including the feasibility of desired outcomes and outputs. This involves identifying and describing the work that is required to produce the project in sufficient detail to ensure:
    • the project team understands what it must achieve
    • all reasonable knowable work has been identified
    • appropriate management controls will be in place.

The functional Brief provides the outline for the project management required during school development.

The Australia Government has a useful business plan template and guide.

Communication plan

The communication plan prescribes:

  1. the information about the new school that will be disseminated: determine what your legal communication requirements are and what communications will need to be sent to fulfil your business and marketing plans.

Note public notifications are required immediately following the submission of the accreditation application. The NSSAB Information Booklet (pages 10 and 11) provides clear guidelines for these notifications.

  1. the channels that will be used to deliver communications: including face-to-face, written (advertisements, newsletters, flyers, brochures, etc) or electronic media (website, emails). It is also important to specify who will be responsible for the delivery and approval of communications.
  1. timing: you need to have clarity around which milestones of development you will communicate with your audiences.
  1. audiences: prospective parents, potential school leaders and staff, elected officials (local government, State Government, Federal Government), local community (including suppliers of goods and services), competitor schools, support organisations (such as Independent Schools Queensland), media and advertising outlets should all be considered as your audience.

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