Non-Education Business that Educational Institutions Must Get Right
When you’re running a school, training centre, or other educational institution, most people outside your organisation assume that your entire day is essentially just taken up with teaching. Furthermore, they think that once the teaching day is over, that your work day is done and everyone just goes home.
Anyone who’s worked in education should know that this idea couldn’t be further from the truth of course. When you’re running a place of learning, there is actually quite a lot of other business that you have to get right, none of which directly connects to day-to-day teaching operations.
The amount of risk faced by educational institutions is massive. Risk management can get so complex and concerning, that there is already specialist insurance for educational institutions that is designed to relieve the stress of it all.
Every single action taken by the school involves some degree of risk: conducting experiments in science class, playing sports on the rugby fields, taking the kids on a field trip, and even just putting kids in rooms with teachers all day, any of whom --- even the tiniest percentage --- could be about to do something very wrong…there’s really no end to it.
For private schools and training centres, of course, the existence of a finance department should be of no surprise. But even our “free” public schools where no money is changing hands directly need finance departments. The money still has to come from somewhere, even if it’s from the state government.
Budgeting is a careful business in schools. Meeting government targets, satisfying parents in the community, and doing what’s best for students is all a big balancing act. You might, for instance, cut the budget of the arts department in order to support core subjects such as English or maths, but you do so much to the ire of art teachers.
Recruitment is another key area of business that schools have to get just right. The pressure isn’t just to hire talented and creative people to teach kids, or dedicated and hardworking people to work in the office or as maintenance staff, but also to find people who are not going to be any kind of liability. In a school where the liability risk is so high, that pressure is enormous.
Besides criminal background checks, schools have to rely on recruitment experts and careful interviews to ensure that they only hire the best-possible candidates for any and all positions.
School accreditation is another big area of business that many don’t seem to know much about. Let’s say you have an international school that is aspiring to teach the International Baccalaureate (IB). That doesn’t just happen, it takes months of painstaking preparation and application procedures to get those IB certifications to teach different levels of the curriculum. It can take schools an entire year of meetings, inspections, interviews, campus updates, curriculum design and more to get there.
5. Maintenance and Groundskeeping
Schools don’t look all neat and tidy by accident, nor can Australian schools simply call on the students to do all the cleaning, leaf sweeping and snow shovelling as they do in countries like China --- beneficial as that may be for the students.
Instead, they must rely on teams of reliable employees to keep all the grounds and facilities clean, not to mention skilled individuals to keep everything in good repair. There’s no room for error, not when the spectre of legal liability looms large once again.
6. Marketing and Communications
Finally, schools both public and private have to get their marketing, branding and culture of communications just right to keep their school and wider community all on the same page and on side, especially when times are hard such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.