school due diligence checklist

International School Acquisition Due Diligence Checklist

Investing in an international school represents a significant commitment, carrying both vast potential for growth and considerable risk. The process of acquiring such an institution requires a comprehensive understanding of the school’s operational, financial, legal, and educational aspects, among others. It’s crucial to thoroughly investigate every element of the school’s operations to ensure a successful acquisition.

This Due Diligence Checklist has been specifically designed to guide you through the process of evaluating an international school for acquisition. The checklist provides a comprehensive list of factors to consider, from organizational structure to accreditation status, from financial health to stakeholder relationships. This guide will help you scrutinize the school from different angles and gather the necessary information for an informed decision.

Each section of the checklist focuses on a different aspect of the school’s operations, including but not limited to curriculum, finance, faculty, legal and regulatory considerations, cultural aspects, and more. The aim is to provide a thorough understanding of the school’s current standing and potential future performance. Please note that while this list is comprehensive, it might not cover all unique aspects of the school you’re considering. It’s advisable to customize this list to meet your specific needs, engage professionals in relevant fields, and conduct an on-site visit when possible.

1. Organisational and Curriculum Due Diligence:

  • Request for the organizational structure and institutional diagram.
  • Current by-laws or operating rules.
  • List of all associated institutions (sister schools, branches, etc.).
  • Details of key stakeholders and organizational members, their roles, and tenure.
  • Information on board members and feedback over the last three to five years.
  • Details about the school’s vision, mission, and educational philosophy.
  • Full overview of the curriculum followed, frequency and process of curriculum updates.
  • Overview of unique teaching and learning strategies employed and measures to ensure curriculum quality and delivery.
  • Overview of standards and processes for student progress assessment.

2. Financial Due Diligence:

  • Request for detailed financial statements for the past few years.
  • Breakdown of operating costs.
  • Overview of the budget, operating plans, and accounting policies.
  • Projected capital expenditures for the next 12 months.
  • Overview of current debt status and existing financial arrangements.
  • Income breakdown (tuition, donations, grants, etc.).
  • Identification of major growth drivers.

3. Employee (Faculty and Staff):

  • Overview of current faculty/staff contracts, including any non-disclosure and non-compete amendments.
  • Details on severance agreements and benefit plans (including pension, bonus, and health plans).
  • Insight into faculty and staff recruitment processes.
  • Overview of the employee handbook or manual, and processes for employee evaluation and surveys.
  • Request for staff retention rate.

4. Legal and Regulatory Due Diligence:

  • Details on specific legal and regulatory requirements to operate a school in the respective country.
  • Information on certification, licensing, and permit status.
  • Overview of the school’s compliance programs and policies.
  • Details on current or anticipated changes in the country’s education laws.

5. Cultural Considerations:

  • Overview of cultural composition of students and staff.
  • Information on how cultural diversity is integrated into curriculum and teaching strategies.
  • Insight into influence of cultural factors on relationships with parents and the broader community.
  • Overview of measures for fostering cultural sensitivity and inclusivity.

6. Stakeholder and Regulator Relations Due Diligence:

  • Description of processes for maintaining relationships with education regulators and government authorities.
  • Overview of the nature of relationships with other community stakeholders.
  • Insight into cultural norms or expectations influencing stakeholder relationships.
  • Overview of conflict resolution processes with stakeholders or regulators.

7. Program and Extracurricular Activities:

  • Details on specific academic programs, courses, and extracurricular activities offered.
  • Information on how these offerings align with the school’s curriculum and philosophy.
  • Overview of quality assurance measures for extracurricular offerings.

8. Support Services:

  • Overview of support services for students (counseling, special education, language support, etc.).
  • Details on qualification requirements for support staff.
  • Insight into quality assurance measures for these services.

9. Student and Parents:

  • Overview of student and family profiles (expats, local families, socioeconomic background).
  • Information on admission policies and criteria.
  • Details on student retention rates and measures for improvement.
  • Overview of parent feedback mechanisms and feedback history.
  • Level of parent involvement in school activities and decision-making.

10. Technology and Digital Infrastructure Due Diligence:

  • Level of technology integration in teaching and learning.
  • Overview of IT infrastructure maintenance and cybersecurity measures.
  • Overview of the school’s policy around technology use.
  • Information on plans for future technology upgrades or innovations.

11. Facility and Infrastructure Due Diligence:

  • Request for images/videos of the school’s facilities.
  • Overview of the current state and maintenance practices of the school’s facilities.
  • Details of property ownership or lease agreements.
  • Insight into planned infrastructure upgrades or expansions.

12. Community and Environment Impact:

  • Overview of the school’s impact on the local community.
  • Insight into the school’s environmental sustainability initiatives.
  • Details on how the school engages with the local community.
  • Measures to address any negative impacts on the community or environment.

13. Intellectual Property Due Diligence:

  • List of existing trademarks, patents, copyrights related to the school.
  • Overview of websites and domains owned by the school.
  • Process for developing and managing intellectual property.
  • Details of any third-party ownership of IP used by the school.

14. Consumer (Student and Parent) Satisfaction Due Diligence:

  • List of top families (most engaged or longest enrolled) over the last three years.
  • Overview of contracts with families (tuition agreements, enrollment contracts, etc.).
  • Breakdown of enrollments and withdrawals by grade, nationality, etc. over the past few years.
  • Information on any lost families (withdrawals) over the past two fiscal years and the reasons for the same.

15. Accreditation and Quality Assurance Due Diligence:

  • List of current accreditations, both curriculum-specific and international, and the accrediting body for each.
  • Documentation verifying these accreditations and their renewal dates.
  • Overview of processes and standards for maintaining these accreditations.
  • Major findings and recommendations from the most recent accreditation reviews or audits.
  • Measures taken to address these recommendations.

16. School Premises and Location Due Diligence:

  • Request for a detailed school layout or floor plan.
  • Google Maps link or precise location details of the school.
  • Information about the neighborhood (safety, accessibility, community, etc.).
  • Overview of the school’s proximity to important amenities like hospitals, sports facilities, transportation hubs, etc.

The process of acquiring an international school can be a rewarding yet complex venture. Comprehensive due diligence is a critical step in this process, providing insights into the potential risks and benefits of the investment. This Due Diligence Checklist has been created to aid you in this journey by identifying key areas to examine.

However, the scope and nature of due diligence can be extensive and often require specialized knowledge. Therefore, it is highly recommended to engage with industry professionals who possess a deep understanding of international school operations, regulatory frameworks, and global market trends. This is particularly crucial for aspects such as legal compliance, financial analysis, cultural considerations, and accreditation processes.

In this regard, ‘Global Services in Education‘ is a leader in providing services for educational management and development. Their team of experts can offer invaluable support and advice during the acquisition process. Leveraging their extensive experience in international education and mergers and acquisitions, ‘Global Services in Education‘ can help ensure that your investment is well-informed, compliant, and strategic.

Engaging with ‘Global Services in Education‘ will add an additional layer of expertise to your due diligence process, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the school’s current standing and its potential future performance. This will put you in the best position to make an informed decision about the acquisition and to maximize the potential success of your investment.

Remember, due diligence is not just a one-time process before acquisition but should be an ongoing process to ensure continued compliance, growth, and success post-acquisition. Thus, the partnership with ‘Global Services in Education‘ could be instrumental not only in the acquisition stage but also in the subsequent management and development of the school.

We hope this checklist has provided you with valuable guidance. Here’s to your success in the exciting and impactful world of international education.

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GSE set up schools in all areas of the world

GSE manage and operate schools in all areas of the world

CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry

Greg Parry

Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for education institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.

Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these discipline.

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Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.

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