Acquiring a school may make good strategic sense, but it’s still a big investment, and at times can prove to be a long and complicated process. Here at Aldenham Education Group, we have years of experience in running and opening new schools, both in the UK and abroad – in September 2022, we opened Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Whether you’re looking to acquire your first school, or adding to a network of them, there are some vital steps that you should keep in mind in order to avoid some of the most common challenges.
When it comes to deals such as this, confidentiality is paramount – the importance of it can’t be overstated. Selling a school can be a time-consuming process, and it’s best to keep everything under wraps to minimise the disruption to pupils, staff, and the parents of pupils as much as possible. There’s always the chance the sale might not go through, so you should ensure that information is only shared with people on a need-to-know basis, such as governors, members of the school board, headteachers or other key staff. If possible, the parties involved should sign a non-disclosure agreement, in order to prevent any acquisition deals from being leaked. Once the terms of the sale or acquisition have been agreed upon, then the school and the buyer can make an announcement to parents and answer any pressing questions people may have.
Do Your Due Diligence
If you’re looking to acquire a school, you’ll want to make sure that you carry out due diligence. You’ll want to make sure that you’re making an informed decision, and that you’re aware of all of the school’s assets, any issues it may have, and any issues that might arise in the near future. While you’re doing your due diligence, a complete valuation of the school is advised, as it ensures you can stay on top of your costs and avoid paying more than is necessary. If you think that due diligence could take a long time, you should make sure to factor it into your timeline.
Typically, the school buildings will be the biggest assets, so you should undertake surveys on them to address any maintenance issues or repairs that need to be made. The school should disclose these up front if there are any, but if they don’t, they could slow down proceedings. It’s a two-way process, of course – the school will also be doing its due diligence on you, so you should make sure there’s nothing that the school might be concerned about.
Keep All Information to Hand
Keeping track of all the important information can ensure the sale goes ahead – something that both the school and the buyer should be mindful of. Before you acquire a school, you’ll need to look over three years’ worth of the school’s financial information, as well as accurate data on debtors, budgets, safeguarding, contracts, and more. By prioritising the receival of all of this information from the school, and keeping it to hand, you can make sure you aren’t blindsided by any new information that comes to light. Since all of our schools are owner-operated, at AEG we’re always hands-on throughout the process of acquiring a new school, especially when analysing and vetting their details – we’re able to make decisions quickly and effectively.
Make Sure You Have Planning Permissions
If you’ve been looking to acquire a school, you may have already made plans to make modifications, to build extensions, or even to build new school buildings. You should make sure to check that the school is registered under the correct planning use class, and that you’ve obtained all of the proper planning permissions. This is especially important if the school’s in a different country. It’s vital that you have the correct planning permissions. Any setback could leave you behind schedule, and cost you both time and money – if you miss out on the beginning of the school year, you’d have to wait weeks or possibly months until you could open your doors to welcome pupils.
Acquiring a new school is an enormous undertaking, as you might expect, but if you keep in mind all of the above points, you can alleviate some of the pressure, and make the process easier for everyone involved. If you want to find out more about some of the schools that we’ve acquired, and how we maintain our hands-on approach to operations, no matter where in the world they are, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Family offices around the world have long sought to diversify their investments and give back by supporting worthy causes, from donating to charities to investing in health and wellness research. It’s a way for family businesses to secure their legacy while supporting the next generation at the same time, and in recent years, more and more are choosing to invest in education.
What family offices invest in
Typically set up by families to manage their wealth on a day-to-day basis, family offices are privately held companies, and give the owners more oversight than they’d have if they relied on banks. Over the past few years, the number of family offices around the world has grown exponentially – it’s risen from just 1,000 in 2008 to more than 10,000 today. Various industries and sectors have gained the attention of family businesses over the years – from real estate and hedge funds to stocks and, more recently, digital assets like NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Recently, however, more and more family offices have chosen to invest their money in education. According to the Global Impact investing Network’s 2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey, of the $221 billion assets involved in impact investing that year, 40% of investors surveyed were allocating their money towards improving education around the globe, investing their money in organisations like Aldenham Education Group.
The rise of impact investing
In the past, many family businesses would simply choose to invest in whatever firm or organisation seemed the most profitable. However, family offices are increasingly looking into ‘impact investing’ instead – that is, investments that have been made intending to generate some kind of positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments are more often than not made in emerging and developed markets, and can be used to address some of the most pressing challenges that the world’s facing today, from conservation to generating more sustainable or renewable energy sources, as well as giving more people access to services such as healthcare or education.
Why education is a worthwhile investment
With more people looking to make a difference, it’s clear that one of the ways of having the greatest impact is by investing in education. Nowadays, more people have access to education than ever before, but there are still improvements that can be made. The global education market is constantly growing – in fact, Statista expects it to be worth around $10 billion (£8.9 billion) by 2026 – meaning that investing in education is a safe bet. Increasingly, studies have found that many family offices aren’t solely driven by making a financial profit. Blackrock’s Global Family Office Survey found that 80% of family offices are looking to make more sustainable investments – they’re looking to the future, for a chance to make an impact and secure their legacy. Investing in schools, like the ones organised and run by Aldenham Education Group, is a step in that direction.
One of the greatest British exports is its education system – Britain has a history of offering quality education around the world for centuries. At Aldenham, we have more than 425 years of experience in academics, and believe that any child, regardless of where in the world they might be, deserves the same quality education. We embody the timeless traditions and heritage of a British education, and our students are at the heart of what we do. We look to the future too – we’re actively engaged in acquiring and managing existing schools, as well as investing in edtech or education-related companies. We opened our latest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia in September this year – and there are more on the way. The school is the region’s first owner-operated, truly integrated branch campus of a notable independent UK school. This ensures that all of our students, whether in Saudi Arabia, the UK, or elsewhere, receive the same education, values, and benefits. Not only is a British education – like the kind students receive at Aldenham – one of the most comprehensive, it can also help children to attend a British university. UK universities are regularly ranked among the world’s best – according to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, the world’s best is Oxford University – and a British education can help set students up for later life, and prepare them for success.
The advantages of educational investments
It’s worth noting that investing in education in this way doesn’t just benefit the children and their future. By investing in education and keeping children in school, family offices would also be investing in communities and helping entire countries to prosper. Education gives people better prospects, meaning they’d earn more and have more chances of getting a better job. In fact, according to UNICEF, each additional year of education can help to boost a person’s income by 10%, which would in turn increase a country’s GDP by 18% – this is the difference that impact investing could make. Education is important to our global society, too – it can empower the next generation, teach them how to make the right decisions, as well as how to be good citizens. Children in school are still growing and developing, and going to school can help them to interact with others, to empathise, and respect other cultures and societies. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Family offices are increasingly looking to make an impact with their investments, and for some, education is the natural next step or them. Not only does investing in education reflect their values and benefit society as a whole, it’s also a safe bet – people will always need education, and we aim to offer the best education possible to every last one of our pupils. Family offices are uniquely positioned to act as agents of change and have positive impacts on students, communities, and countries around the world, so if they’re not already investing in education, they should be looking into it. If your family office is looking to take the next step and invest in education, get in touch with us today.