Setting Up a New School in Morocco
If you are considering setting up a new school in Morocco you certainly have a lot of things to consider. We have done this many times and in many unique locations.
We are here to help you along the way and have put together this quick summary to help you get started.
Feasibility Study and Market Research for Setting up a New School in Morocco
It is essential that the process of setting up a school begins with this important step. Most countries are unique, such as Morocco , and making assumptions can be expensive. A comprehensive study will minimise risk and also maximise your chances of success. Even if it is already clear that the school will go ahead, this research will influence many decisions in the set up process including Vision/Mission, Financial Planning, Curriculum, Admissions and more.
As a result of Moroccan government reforms facilitating procedures for private entities to enter the education market, local and foreign parties have come to progressively invest in private education in an increasingly profitable market. Insufficient regulations for private schools have also led to an increase in providers of varying quality (some senior state and government).
Is there a demand for setting up a new school in Morocco?
When we analyse the potential for expanding markets, in all industries we need to analyse not just the number but the quality and nature of providers. Setting up a new school in Morocco is a growing enquiry for GSE.
Private schools represent 1/3 of the total number of schools in Morocco however they receive only 14 percent of the students. This data reveals that there are more students per school in public schools but also an imbalance in opportunity versus demand. Parents want a higher quality of education, usually found in private providers, but they are not satisfied by the quality provided by current operators. “The proliferation of private schools has also meant that there are many that are not of great quality.” (Source)
“The government’s explicit support for the private sector to invest in education has enabled private investment firms to take over school institutions and turn them into business enterprises subject to expansion beyond national borders. It has also enabled local actors to benefit from facilitated procedures to invest in education by virtue of their high-ranking positions. This has created a potential conflict of interest between what is officially stated about the government’s view of the private sector as a partner to realise education equity, and the current state of affairs, where the private sector is largely unregulated (particularly when it comes to registration and school fees, as well as its extensive use of public teaching and administrative personnel).” (Source)
There is clearly a growing appetite for higher quality, independently operated international schools with a focus on best practice pedagogy. Families are seeking education pathways abroad at an alarming rate. There is much debate about “brain drain” and Morocco is described as the biggest non-European group living in Europe, seeking both established higher education degrees and stable employment opportunities in the European Union’s labor market. Morocco has been unable to reverse this trend, despite strong government investment in education. 34 new universities were announced in 2020 but what pathway will serve these universities. The investment in higher education is applauded but what students will it serve?
As of 2019/2020, there were 3,518 private primary schools in Morocco, rising from a total of 3,331 in 2018/2019. (source) 2020/2021 was obviously significantly affected by the pandemic. Surprisingly, during the 2020/2021 academic year more than 140,000 students left private schools to return to the public system. This was due mainly to financial pressures on fee paying families, school closures caused by financial pressures on the schools but also inadequate online teaching that created widespread complaints. There are many indicators that show that privates schools are not meeting needs of families in the country.
Many private schools face the same problem as their public school counterparts. They lack strong school management, qualified teachers, and lack of quality curriculum material matched with modern teaching strategies.
There is clearly a gap in the pathway towards university. In order to meet the demand for a high quality education it is essential that quality improves in the primary and secondary sectors. Middle and Upper class families are seeking more seamless pathways to university study abroad, reflecting an increasing demand for private and international schools. There is a demand for higher quality education management teams, leadership and curriculum pathways. International education can serve this need for the right partners.
Setting up a new school in Morocco is becoming a hot topic!
Vision and Mission – “The Voice”
Although to some a school vision and mission may seem like an obligatory message on a feature wall, when you are setting up a new school these statements are invaluable. We prefer to describe this step as identifying the school’s unique “voice.” It is important that the school voice is clear and that all decisions about school design, curriculum, choice of staff and policies reflect a unique plan. Project forward to a time in 20 years when graduates return to the school and share stories of great times. How will they describe the school? What is unique about it? How will people distinguish your school from others? What are the “Signature Experiences”?
Financial Planning – The Business Plan for Setting up a New School in Morocco
Both non-profit and for-profit schools need to have a comprehensive business plan that outlines a sound financial strategy both short and long term. We recommend a comprehensive 10-year plan with knowledge that it usually takes 3 – 5 years for a school to reach a sound financial position. Morocco has unique characteristics in terms of legal authorities, governance and policy and there are risks associated with this. All these differences need to be taken into account.
Long-term planning is essential as it is easy for school leadership to become reactive and move attention away from the end goal. Schools are busy, complex and stressful places, but good management focuses on strategic planning at least 5-10 years in advance. It is also key to look in depth to the future as many new schools do not begin to make significant profit until after operational year 4.
Accreditation and Licensing for Setting up a New School in Morocco
Investors setting up a new school in Morocco, being a private or international school, will usually begin by setting up a limited liability company.
A Societe a Responsabilite Limitee (SARL) also known as a limited liability company, is one of the most common forms of companies in Morocco.
The education system is supervised by the Ministry of National Education (MNE) and Ministry of Higher Education and Executive Training. The Ministry of National Education then delegates its functions to 12 regional academies. Each Regional Academy for Education and Training is charged with providing services for education in their regions.
Licensing is approved subject to satisfactory demonstration that standards are being met in the areas of:
- Human Resources
- Facilities and
- Education Program
In particular, it is a requirement that a strong management team is appointed including a named education leader with suitable qualifications and profile to lead the school and its accreditation.
Approval and registration to establish an International School
In order to set up an international/private school in Morocco, applicants are required to submit a proposal to the relevant authority for an approval to establish the school. Upon obtaining an initial approval to establish the school you will be subject to an institutional audit which is a comprehensive external inspection and evaluation of educational and administrative processes at the institution of education ensuring “effective operation and sustainable development”.
International Curriculum Accreditation: Use of an international curriculum such as Cambridge from the United Kingdom, a United States curriculum, or a framework such as International Baccalaureate (IB) will also require programmes meeting standards that will be checked and monitored by the Ministry of Education (MOE) . Most of these accreditations are best achieved by good education management principles and these begin right from the early planning stages. Education documents and the appointment, and approval, of a fully qualified education management team are required.
School Accreditation Options: A school might choose to pursue external accreditation as a way to validate quality. There are many to choose from and there are a number of these worth considering.
The key forms of accreditation can include:
- Local Education Ministry License (required as above)
- Curriculum accreditation eg. Cambridge, Oxford, EdExcel or others
- Partner standards and accreditation eg. an overseas school brand or other form
- International accreditation eg. WASC, CIS or others (3-4 years)
All schools are different and the school design will reflect both local needs as well as the nature of the curriculum and the school’s vision and mission. Before you begin working with an architect, you must first engage a school operator who understands the school curriculum and the key teaching and learning priorities. Gone are the days when architects line up boxes with a corridor down the middle. You also need to consider capacity, class sizes and future needs. These include both educational as well as business decisions. An educator must be part of this process. Morocco has unique architecture that can be incorporated into any designs as a functional and marketing tool of the school.
So how to stand out from the crowd? To match what the other schools in the market are doing is one thing, however it’s worth considering strategies to excel or be unique in a particular area that no other school has adopted. One of these recommendations could be a unique STEM/STEAM LAB that could be placed on a platform and showcased as best practice to the consumer.
Like everywhere, Morocco has its own construction standards, costs and processes. This specialist field requires experts to closely monitor. If construction costs blow out or there are time delays, it will cost you dearly. Employ a very good project manager with an attention to detail. Micro manage and follow project timeframes carefully.
We can recommend some excellent Architects, Engineers and Project Managers in Morocco. Contact us for details.
There are important design considerations when decisions are being made about internal facilities, materials and resources. Upfront costs are a factor as well as maintenance and function. This is a chance for the educator and the architects to be creative and exploit different characteristics of a building. For example at a GSE school in Malaysia, Primary classrooms were 120m2+, incorporating a mezzanine floor and a slide.
Branding and Marketing
Schools, and what they offer are a very different “product/service” than you might expect. A parent and child is joining a community. You are not selling a car. How you brand and communicate your key messages must reflect a deep understanding of education and what Morocco families value, all within the local context. Study carefully and seek out expertise. It will make a big difference. We advocate strongly in the use of social media; the modern day “word of mouth.” In Morocco digital leads are a primary focus of good marketing plans.
Building a strong brand image in Morocco includes aspects such as:
- A well regarded education management brand
- Overseas brands, pathways and study programmes
- A quality Principal with an excellent profile and strong governance/management team
- High quality native speaking English teachers or very competent non-native teachers
- Partnerships within the local community
ICT is an expensive upfront investment and it is expensive to maintain. Get an expert involved. It will save you money by making good decisions right from the start.
Determining what you need and when you need it can be very difficult. Be careful also about the differences of opinion that may exist between your key staff. These decisions about what is needed and what is best use of money can be quite subjective. We suggest starting with a core list of resources and then expanding it based on need.
Any research will tell you that school management is the number one factor that will determine success in a school. It is essential that your leadership is underpinned by education expertise. Put in place a quality management team.
Admissions processes must be clear and have an educational rationale for placement. Your goals should be to accept children “whose needs you can satisfy.” Create admissions tests that are credible and use these as benchmarks for determining grade placement.
Your staffing plan will be determined when you create your financial plan. The ratios of staff to students as well as your support and administration staff must be calculated carefully. As the school grows these ratios will become more efficient so seek good advice in your planning process. There are many ways to recruit with varying costs but, as always, you will often get what you pay for. The best teachers work through the best channels. Also, be aware that as a new school you are marketing yourself to new staff also, not just students. Build a great website and promote yourself well to this audience also.
Also see our top tips for staff retention specific to schools.
In this initial planning phase you will not create a detailed curriculum but you must begin outlining the general curriculum plan. This will be different depending on your key priorities for pedagogy (how you teach) as well as your curriculum choice; be it British, American, Australian, IB or any other.
Standard school handbooks containing school policies can range from 20 pages to 100+. This comprehensive handbook takes time to produce but also must reflect local laws and government policies as well as the standards set by accreditations you have or are seeking. GSE builds handbooks, policies, procedures and systems for schools.
School Review Processes and Action Plans
To be the very best, a school must have review processes and internal standards by which it is measuring itself. A 10-year strategic plan must be broken down into an annual plan, term plans and, sometimes, weekly action plans to achieve key priorities. When a school owner does not have a strong education background, engaging an education management team will be important.
Training and Development
Employ great teachers but then train them. Respond to internal school review processes, academic data and feedback by adjusting practice. The most valuable resource within a school is its Human Resources and investment in this is important.
Timelines for Setting Up a New School in Morocco
A tough question! Many and most of the above will happen concurrently. The different stages of accreditations may depend on each other as well as your recruitment of a strong team. GSE has a 100% success rate with accreditation. In fact we have a reputation for being very fast given our experience in the education industry. The building process may take anywhere from 6 months to a year depending on the size and location of the construction and the length of time it takes to complete additional approval processes. Building certificates and certifications are the responsibility of construction contractors and in Morocco this is where there may be higher risk of delays. If you are using an existing facility or refurbishing one, then that might be easier for you, but just like any renovation, you can run into problems. Plan for this part of the process to take longer than you expect as you are depending on factors out of your control, such as government approvals or the weather.
GSE’s Opinion on the Morocco School Market
- Some parents are not satisfied with current local schools and are indifferent about many private international schools in the Morocco market. (They are looking for something better and different)
- Some schools claiming to be “international” and of “high standard” are not delivering on the quality they promise. (There is a gap in service to the current market)
- There is a lack of high quality management and teachers in some schools. (Research shows leadership is the key difference in school success)
- There is a large gap in the market for high quality international schools in the Tier 2 and 3 sector. (New schools at this price point will succeed)
- Only good quality schools with “integrity” will survive in the next 5-10 years i.e. value for money matching quality of delivery. (The bubble will burst for poor quality schools)
- The Pandemic has placed significant pressure on all schools. Some are passing the test and others are failing. There are opportunities for schools who can deliver quality.
- The gap and demand in the market is for schools operated by strong and credible education management teams.
Even if it is just to share ideas and gather informal feedback on a potential new school project we are happy to discuss over a coffee some time. Contact us to explore your ideas about setting up a new school in Morocco.
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Who is Global Services in Education (GSE)
Global Services in Education is a company led by education experts. They are proven education leaders who know how to set up and manage international schools. GSE can lead the project from the initial idea to set up and full management. Kindergarten, Primary, Middle and High School, Universities and Adult education.
“I love great food and I love beautiful restaurants but that doesn’t mean I should set up and operate a restaurant. Everyone has been to a school and many have sent their children to one but that does not mean they are fully qualified and have the skills to guarantee the school’s success. The key difference between a great school and a failing school is its educational leadership. GSE has developed a reputation for being an invaluable bridge between education and business, particularly in unique cultural contexts.” Greg Parry, CEO.CONTACT US
Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Mainland 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 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 disciplines.