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Dear Theo: How can I go about starting my own independent school?

Discussion in 'Independent' started by andrew07, May 30, 2009.

  1. andrew07

    andrew07 Occasional commenter

    I've been thinking about this for quite some time now. I would love to go into business for myself. I'm passionate about teaching and the future of our children (and our country) I'm currently on a work permit and teaching in a state school. I will qualify to settle in about a year and a half. I've thought a lot about opening my own school. It would be keystage 3 to 4. Can you give me some suggestions on how I might make this dream a possibility and perhaps even reality. I would prefer to not have <u>any</u> government funding.
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    No, no, MinnieMinx, not Little Women. They didn&acute;t go to school, they were taught at home by Dearest Marmee.
    It was The Chalet School series that did it for my 2 sisters. But they didn&acute;t want to set up the school, they wanted to be a pupil there!

  3. Aye but...

    By the time you get to 'Little Men' and 'Jo's Boys', Great Aunt March has died and left her big house (Plumfield, IIRC) to Jo who, along with Prof. Bhaer, sets up a school for boys.

    Lovely dream, but I don't think I'd do it either!

  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Well, you don&acute;t expect a chap like me to have read all those, do you?
  5. Realistic advice I would say. However, it might just be possible to buy a school cheaply and turn it around using the methods used by the Asian entrepreneurs who operate the US motel industry. See a book called the Dhandho Investor by Pabrai.
    Essentially, you would get whoever is lending money to the school to finance most of your purchase - which is rational for them as they might get less back if it folds. Then you and your family would live in the school. At least two of you and preferably a few cousins as well would work in it for no salary - which is ok as you get free food and board. You would cut teacher salaries and offer them a profit share in return. Maybe you could get parents to work in the school in lieu of fees - this is very tax efficient. You would stop subsidising pupils with bursaries and use the money saved to contain or reduce fees. Then - and this is the tricky bit - you would need to create reasons for pupils to stay or join despite the disruption from a change of ownership and business approach. Possibly this would be a simple matter of eliminating the poor practices that caused the school to fail in the first place.
    Then after a few years you would sell the school for a few million more than you bought it for, enabling you to go on holiday and buy clothes again.
  6. Maclaren, that is a scarily accurate description of a school I worked in 25 years ago - run by a mad, maverick couple living in a gorgeous rambling house, who conducted parents evenings with their sleepy toddlers in their arms, and who caused me, a green NQT, no end of stress by trying to save money on salaries with a very dubious profit sharing scheme.
    I looked the school up a year or so ago, and was impressed to see it positively thriving, although the original owners, after a very public divorce, had sold up and gone.
  7. Hmmmm..... if Im upto date on the latest youth internet jargon I believe that is what as known as "Getting pwned!"
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    You got it! I did say the sequels in my piost.

    Me too...Loved those books. All 50 something of them.
    See Andrew you just need to buy your school in the Austrian Tyrol and you will have girls queuing up to come along... [​IMG]
  9. Yep, Joey Maynard always made me want to go to boarding school in the alps - I know its not relavant - But i never got the last six books before they went out of print - did she ever get her quads and did Len get married ?
    Sorry boys
    But a girl needs to know these things !!
  10. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    [​IMG] She does indeed.
    Goodness really racking my brains now...Someone had triplets, not quads. I really can't say for sure it was Joey though.
    No recollection of who Len is, so can't help there.
    Amazon are selling The Chalet School series in super modernised paperback covers. No idea if they are the original stories though.
  11. FrauSue

    FrauSue New commenter

    Jo never gets her quads, but Len is engaged to a young doctor from the San by the end of the last book.
    Girls Gone By publishing have started to rerelease a lot of the books - have a look on Ebay too!
  12. There are entire websites devoted to the Chalet School - google it, it's fascinating. examination of the themes and everything.
    My sister used to have at least 30 of them - I think she read as many as she could find, though I'm not sure she got through the lot.
    Len is the oldest of Joey's triplets, the sensible one.
  13. Interesting tread... and I am one of those mad, stupid, people who has done it!
    I took the leap last year, and in September opened my own Primary Independent School. We are a Montessori school, and I have a nursery next door to us which has been running successfully for the last 7 years.
    BUT... I have no life, no money and am working so very very hard that today it feels like a big deep hole.. On the positive side..l I have 15 children now, aged between 5 - 8, who daily are amazing me, making big leaps in their learning, and having a happy time!
    all your comments are true though.. the paper work is vast, and I am running the school and teaching full time and managing the nursery too (oh and throw in a husband and 3 children)
    Financially it is not great... actually it is pretty naff.. I am in the process of having to go back to the bank to ask for another loan.. I have some more children booked in for this september.. but not enough.. but already have 5 booked in for next september. I am registered with OFSTED for 40 children.. so only have 5/6 reception places each year.

    I employ 2 staff - one full time and one part time. They are on ok salaries..and are a real blessing to me as they work very hard too!
    It is not the best time in the world to be opening a school, I have had many people look around and who love itl.... but cannot committ to the finance at this time... so walk away.
    hmmm would I be doing anything else? no.. but I have to say if I had been facing the interviewers on The Apprentice this week they would have completely ripped me to shreds.. I can run a business but at the mmoment it is just survival.. and 15 children who inspire me every day to keep plodding on!

  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Well done to you!
  15. mmm on good days it is well done.. on bad days it is 'oh my life what have I done?!"
  16. polly.glot

    polly.glot New commenter

    (Raising hand politely) Please sir...I don't mean to be pedantic, but in my recollection (going back more than 40 years...), Amy DID go to school, where she was strapped for the crime of possessing limes, the fashionable snack of the era, it seems....
    Please forgive me if my ancient memory is failing me..
  17. andrew07

    andrew07 Occasional commenter

    To be honest, I think I'm sorry for asking this question.
  18. why? If everyone out there decided that their dreams were mad and unachieveable then the world would a) be a boring place and b) never move on, develop onto something else.
    Vision is important.. so is passion and if you have both of those and have a dream..then do not give up on it yet.
    our children need new light, sparks, vision - people who believe in them and their education. .. and people who are brave enough to go out there and do it!
    i know I stresss, I know it is hard work, I know that some people think I have been completely mad.. but I know I have done the right thing - and if I can survive this recession by just being able to keep my head above water.. then the school will go onto stronger things..
    I have 15 children... and 15 lots of parents who truely believe in me and the school... and 3 staff members who believe in it too. It is not impossible!
  19. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    You have your dream, it just isn&acute;t realisable at present.
    And we have enjoyed this thread.
    Best wishes
  20. I did it too. Fortunately I had some financial backers but the problem with that is it comes with strings, which in the end caused too much friction. However, it ran for 15 years and was the best thing I have ever done - but you have to be prepared to get your hands dirty -work all hours God sends and take heaps of criticism even when you are right. On the whole, I wouldn't do it again.

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