The wide spread concerns on the access to quality education and the various challenges faced by the public school system in developing countries has promulgated the emergence of low-fee private schools that aim to meet the rising demands of access to quality education by making private schooling more affordable. The emergence of low-fee private schools is already evident in South Africa; these schools contribute to the education system by filling the gap where the public education system is lacking. It was based on this premise that a need for scaling-up this type of innovation in education was identified. In order to increase the positive impact made by these private schools and also increase access to quality education, we need to scale-up these types of schools by learning from evidence based mechanisms if we are to sustainably scale-up low fee private schools.
An exploratory study was undertaken; seventeen interviews with either a school principal or the founder of the school or an expert in the field such as investors, donors, researchers or policy makers were conducted. In order to obtain well-rounded insights this research consisted of inputs from three different samples. Sample one focused on school principals or founders of schools that have in one way or the other scaled-up their operations. Sample two focused on school principals or founders from schools that have not yet scaled-up but plan to do so in the future. Lastly, sample three focussed on various stakeholders in the education sector who provided input on the potential of scaling schools and growing the low fee private school sector in South Africa.
The innovation of an educational model that can deliver quality education at low costs will make it possible to increase impact without the school having to be bigger. There are external environmental factors and internal organisational factors that influence the ability to implement scale-up initiatives and the indicate that low fee private schools face the same challenges as small businesses and that they need to build capabilities as they increase in size and complexity. A scale–up model was developed to show factors necessary for scaling-up a low fee private school.