How to Start a Girls' School
The National Coalition of Girls' Schools (NCGS) is the leading advocate for girls' schools, connecting and collaborating globally with individuals, schools, and organizations dedicated to educating and empowering girls. NCGS is eager to support those who wish to imagine and explore new opportunities that will strengthen our schools, communities, and the world. As such, NCGS often hears from individuals and groups interested in starting an all-girls school. While NCGS does not consult directly on this matter, see below for basic guidelines and important steps you should consider prior to opening a school in the United States as well as additional resources to support you on your journey.
The information provided on this page is not intended to be an exhaustive list of steps, but rather key questions that should be contemplated by potential school founders on the tremendous undertaking of starting an all-girls school.
- 1. WHY ALL-GIRLS?
|Your team must clearly articulate why you want to start an all-girls school. Your understanding of the research and practice of successful girls’ schools will inform the design of your educational program. A thorough and research-based understanding of the benefits and distinctions of all-girl schools will enable you to make a strong case to all of your key stakeholders. Through publications, research reports, and advocacy tools that support and promote the unique benefits and outcomes of girls’ schools, NCGS provides resources that define the girls’ school advantage.
- 2. WHAT ARE THE CORE VALUES OF OUR SCHOOL?
|The Core Values:
- Are the principles that guide you in establishing the school.
- Set the foundation for how the school community will interact with the internal and external world.
- Should be evident in your program design.
- 3. WHAT IS THE VISION FOR OUR SCHOOL?
|A Vision Statement:
- Defines what you want your school to achieve over time.
- Provides guidance and inspiration as to what the school should do five, ten, or more years down the road.
- Is written succinctly in an inspirational manner that makes it easy for stakeholders to repeat at any given time.
Note: Incorporate the top three to five values into your Vision Statement (refer to Core Values section above).
- 4. WHOM WILL OUR SCHOOL SERVE?
|This question should be discussed prior to drafting your mission statement. Know your potential student population geography, socio-economic status, academic ability, and cultural diversity. How will you design your program to meet the specific needs of your prospective students? Is there a specific geographic area or demographic you want to target? This will help you determine the type of school you should open and the mission of your particular school.
- 5. WHAT IS THE MISSION OF MY SCHOOL?
|A Mission Statement:
- Defines the purpose of the school
- Answers three critical questions:
- What does the school do?
- Whom does the school serve?
- How will the school achieve the desired outcomes?
- Is written succinctly in the form of a few sentences.
- Is something all staff, students, and key stakeholders can understand and articulate.
Note: Incorporate the top three to five values into your Mission Statement (refer to Core Values section above).
- 6. WHAT TYPE OF SCHOOL DO YOU WANT TO OPEN?
|There are three primary pathways to opening a new school:
- Charter School: A charter school a publicly funded school established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.The actual "charter" that establishes these types of schools is a performance contract detailing the school's unique mission, program, student population, performance goals, and methods of assessment. One example of this model is the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women.
- District Initiative or Contract School: These schools are initiatives that are incubated in collaboration with the local school district. These are traditional public schools in their operation and governance structure, but may have additional resources and support from an outside community partner. Strong examples of this model are the Young Women’s Leadership Network schools in New York and the Young Women’s Preparatory Network schools in Texas.
- Independent School (Religious or Non-Sectarian): An independent school is a school that is independent in its finances and governance; it is not dependent upon national or local government for financing its operations, nor reliant on taxpayer contributions; and is instead funded by a combination of tuition charges, donations, and endowment. It is governed by a board of trustees that is elected by independent means and a system of governance that ensures its independent operation. Please consult the list of NCGS member schools for several examples of this model.
- 7. WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
|Creating and sustaining a new all-girls school is a significant undertaking. NCGS highly recommends individuals and groups considering opening a school conduct a feasibility study to determine the viability of their school plan.
- Guides you in developing a project description based on the mission of the school. This will help provide clarity to all stakeholders about what you are proposing.
- Assesses the competitive landscape. The study will assess the level of demand for the school model, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges of the proposed model.
- Enables key decision makers to focus on the most critical issues.
- Analyzes the operating requirements of a new school, and determines the essential capacities needed to start a new school.
- Creates financial projections by articulating start-up and annual operating budgets for the first five years.
- Proposes key findings and recommendations to strengthen and enhance the school’s success.
- Maureen Colburn, Consultant (recommended by NCGS): feasibility studies, application development, and new school start-up
- Provisional Membership: opportunity for schools in formation to join NCGS
- NCGS Publications: brochures and research reports for prospective families that make the case for the benefits of all-girls schools
- NCGS Research Reports: a curated archive of over 110 research studies, indexed by topic, on girls’ education and their healthy development
View the HOW TO START A GIRLS’ SCHOOL Chart, which outlines the key differences on the requirements, autonomies, and accountability for each pathway (public charter, public school district contract, and independent).