Updated: Sep 3, 2022
We often do say that choosing a school is an emotional decision. Within reason. Yet, before we get into lengthy debates on the choice of curriculum, it's important that the schools on our short list are robust and are not about to go bust!
This is especially important nowadays where new private schools are opening all the time.
So, before you entrust your little ones to apparently trustworthy and qualified educators, do some digging.
What Is Due Diligence?
In the financial world, due diligence involves a comprehensive examination of a company before making a decision - usually a financial one. Many parents pore over annual reports to decide which stocks, shares and funds to invest in, yet - surprisingly - spend a lot less of time researching the organisation that operates a school they are considering for their child.
Lots of information is readily available and some requires a little more time/expense.
To embark on a canny school investigation (CSI), consider the following areas:
Check that the school is licensed - and for the correct age of children. Then, check the licence covers each of the premises on which the school operates, with individuals' names and company names on invoices matching the licence holder. If no match, find out why.
Check that the number of children in a classroom does not exceed the permitted number.
Run company searches to understand the entity that is licensed and their personnel. Seek to understand the relationship of the licensee to a company name on an invoice or the registered owner of the website or any other related entity and that it makes sense. Be clear on whether the school is non-profit or for profit.
Run Google searches on each of the directors. Reverse search the registered office address as well as the addresses of each of the directors.
Do the same for random members of the board of governors, members of the senior leadership team and the management committee.
It sounds obvious, but check news reports on the school - not paid for advertorials or awards but real news. In Hong Kong, always check the Chinese media press, or have someone do that for you.
You'll want to know that enrolment is healthy; that a new school is growing and an established school is not shrinking. A school may not be completely forthcoming with this information but there are ways to find out.
Check that the fees being charged are approved. This is a minefield and fees that schools have regularly been charging are not always approved.
Spot check members of staff - check out their LinkedIn profiles and check their credentials - are they qualified for the roles they fill? A top school will require all class teachers to have a Bachelor's degree in Education or a degree in another discipline + PGCE/PGDE from a reputable institution. Some schools - especially preschools - hire TEFL teachers who are not qualified Early Childhood Practitioners.
Search for previous and current vacancies advertised on job boards to understand what sort of qualifications and experience the school requires.
At Top Schools, we keep on top of this for you. We will have already conducted thorough searches on all these areas, particularly on a new school. We will have met the senior leaders and satisfied ourselves that the outfit is legitimate. We will also have a handle on a brewing scandal, PR disaster or worse. When you trust us to place your child in a top school, you can be sure that we, in turn, trust any school we are recommending.
Get in touch for a chat. No obligation.