Taking time to conduct a robust initial feasibility study saves time and money, whether or not a project is regarded as viable. If the project is a good fit, drilling down to establish estimated costs allows project sponsors to proceed advisedly.
Steering a project safely through its implementation phase, within budget and on schedule is the next phase. We will coordinate the input of all key players and guide the writing of effective curriculum, budget and staffing plans.
Demograpics and competitors
Any idea for an international school must be seen in context. Conducting demographic, social and economic research, while identifying competitors and establishing fee levels likely to be acceptable provide initial indicators of sustainability.
Building a community
What kind of school will fit the local community? If the school has a purpose which meets community needs it has every chance of success. Articulating a vision at this early stage also builds the case for investment by explaining how the school will meet community aspirations.
Student and staff projections
Projecting and refining the likely growth of student numbers for the first ten years of the school is the key to calculating the right number of faculty needed to implement the chosen curriculum – and staff will be the largest budget line. Keeping staff numbers constantly under review is vital.
With student and staff projection models in place and resourcing requirements established, fees can be set. Both operating and capex budgets can be projected over a 5 – 10 year period to give an initial estimate of capital accumulation and to set the target date for operational self-sufficiency.
Establishing the space required for the school at capacity, fitting it to the land available and planning the stages in which it might be built are important aspects of a preliminary study. This makes it possible to make an initial cost estimate for building and resourcing the school.
Local and international procurement
Choosing and planning for the most effective use of educational resources is essential. Getting value for money suggests that local sourcing is an important part of this process, but well-judged procurement overseas can often produce savings in the long run. Consilium Education works closely with UK based educational consolidated supplier, VPJ Solutions to source a wide range of specialist resources from the UK.
From the outset, an appraisal must be made of local regulations: a project which is not compliant locally will not be viable. Knowing which national educational, immigration and building regulations must be followed, will enable the implementation phase to progress efficiently.
It is important to understand the options (a) for international accreditation and (b) curriculum authorisation requirements, both for marketing purposes and to ensure a new curriculum can start on Day 1. Building the required standards into early planning will prevent unnecessary delay.
Once the the feasibility study is complete, it will be clear what kind of project will be viable. There is still work to be done to bring things fully into detailed focus, especially when writing the full business plan, but the fundamental case for project viability will have been made.
Having decided that a project is viable, a client may need to make the case for involvement to potential investors. Preparing a project brochure and presentation from the working documents in order to explain feasibility to third parties becomes the main focus for our consulting team.
A robust business case based on the feasibility study and any subsequent research is at the heart of all successful projects, smoothing the way for the approvals required by regulators, winning investors and giving the project sponsors confidence to make difficult decisions.
STARTUP, FEASIBILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION SUPPORTARRANGE AN INITIAL DISCUSSION
WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT CONSILIUM’S START-UP CONSULTANTS
Dr. Barry K. DrakeSenior Associate (Hong Kong / Search Associates International Teacher Recruitment.
I have worked closely with Paul Cabrelli in a number of professional collaborations since 1998 and recommend him in the highest possible of terms. The Chinese International School (HK) blossomed under Paul’s financial leadership. New buildings, massive changes to curriculum structures, student and staff numbers, all were financed so as to enable the school to structure, viable and sustainable, debt repayments. In recent years Paul and I have worked together on a couple of new school projects whilst he has gained a richer set of experiences advising a range of educational entrepreneurs on remuneration packages, school financing, organizational structures and the like. His expertise is very well respected and sought after in Asia (in particular) where he has a well established network of clients and colleagues from which to draw current information on current trends to enhance his analytical reports and recommendations.
Chris MullerAdjunct Senior Lecturer, Education / University of Hong Kong
Paul Cabrelli combines expert business management skills with a strong background in international school teaching. He uses this combination to mould a business office into an integral part of the school, taking full cognizance of the unique human resource and fiscal needs, and the political eccentricities of a large internationally diverse institution.
David CookFounding Head / Wellington College, Tianjin and Shanghai
I worked closely with Paul Cabrelli when we were colleagues in the Wellington family of schools. I was the Founding Head of Wellington College in Tianjin and Paul was my invaluable support back at home. Nothing was ever too much for him, a fount of educational knowledge, and a great sounding board as we negotiated our way through the problems of setting up a school, the first Wellington overseas, six thousand miles away. We started with over 300 students in our first year. So much of the blueprint Paul established in Tianjin was then copied at Wellington College in Shanghai. He can take great personal pride in the enviable reputation both schools now enjoy amongst British schools worldwide.
PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION SUPPORT
Opening a new school on time and within budget
A wide range of professionals will engage in complex financial, design, engineering, HR and educational conversations during the implementation phase. Our consultants will take the lead in coordinating this joint effort, while listening carefully to ensure everyone is heard.
Curriculum & staff
Finalising curriculum and staffing requirements for an uncertain student population is a finely balanced process and one of our most important tasks. Calculating and refining staff numbers remains the constant focus of the assigned consultant. Not too many, and not too few teachers and support staff are needed from Day 1.
Successful school openings depend on the recruitment of outstanding staff – both faculty and support. Finding great start-up staff is a pressurised business and one in which we specialise. It must be conducted patiently and transparently to ensure the right people are in place when a school opens.
Design & resources
Every space on campus is a learning space. Whether the project is a new build or refurbishment, forming a design bond between sponsor, architect and educator is essential. No space must be wasted and every opportunity maximised. Learning is the driver but rational compromise is important.
FFE and specialist resources
Sourcing Furniture, Fittings, Equipment and other resources for the school proceeds in parallel with detailed design briefing. The big choice is whether to go local or sources overseas. In most cases the outcome is a combination of both to give best value for money and the desired level of quality.
IT infrastructure and systems
All spaces in a modern international school, from the admissions office through early years rooms to high tech science labs, require specialised digital planning – the right hardware, the right software and a suitable infrastructure with which to support a sustainable and effective operation. We advise clients to plan early and then support them as the difficult decisions are made.
Every new school project needs an effective website – to inspire, to inform, to recruit and attract. It needs to be in place early and then to be constantly updated as the project plan is implemented. In the longer term it must be set up to give the school independence from the designer.
Policy and procedures
When a school does open, a wide range of procedures – from student drop off to parent communication – must be in place. Confidence grows when these are well coordinated and properly communicated. The principles that guide procedures form the basis of a school’s policy manual, which we help design and edit.
While project implementation can be successfully supported from a distance, visits from the consultant become increasingly important as the opening of the school approaches. Everyone needs to ‘live the project’ in real time as decisions are made on a daily basis. Close support helps.
A vulnerable period
Planning becomes so focused on opening the school, there can be a tendency to breathe out after Day 1. No project management team can afford to do so. Snagging continues, problems arise and ongoing operations, once started, need support as systems bed in and routines are established.
Having opened, the question of strategic direction arises. Answers must be immediate and will already be planned. The school’s first strategic plan should be in place: the energy built up to start the school is transformed into the fuel that will power it for the next three years.