Interest in SISU Schools® Sparks 10 New Contracts in Record Time
Revolutionary K-12 franchise model by ISS-Lumo continues to gain traction
With the signing of its latest school, ISS-Lumo now lists 10 SISU Schools® contracts signed in under one year. The K-12 franchise model is rapidly growing across the international school landscape, with sites planned on at least four continents.
SISU Schools® are made possible through the collaboration of two educational leaders, International Schools Services (ISS) and Lumo Education. Officials state the success is due to blend of sound academic principles and ease for investors. “SISU Schools have been successful because they are intentionally developed to deliver a quality educational program at a very attractive price point. In today’s educational landscape, midpriced private schools are in high demand, and SISU Schools delivers quality at a great price,” says Dr. Thomas Hawkins, ISS Vice President of School Startups, Management and Operations.
Investors seeking to start an international school have emerged from various locations and purposes, ranging from investment firms to educational entrepreneurs. Although highly attracted by SISU Schools’ cost-effective financial model, most are motivated by the desire to deliver quality education to their surrounding areas. “SISU Schools are an investment in community, in education, and in people,” says Hawkins. “The return on the investment can be measured in monetary terms, but most of our SISU Schools clients are looking to make a difference in their communities; being able to do that with a margin provides the means to deliver on the mission of the school.”
High Tech Academy in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aki Halko, CEO of Lumo Education, elaborates: “Our SISU Schools stand out from the competitors because of the innovation. SISU Schools meet the standards of Finnish and American International education and give flexibility to implement in local language, bilingually or fully in English. Investors find that SISU’s unique model is more comprehensive and affordable than the other options in the private school market. The school owners will save a lot of money in multiple aspects of school operation because of the comprehensiveness of the package.”
The SISU approach allows owners to move from concept to opening to impact in a relatively short period of time, due to a robust set of deliverables that accompany the school license under the SISU brand. Along with the SISU process, these deliverables — such as guidebooks, policies, marketing, architecture, school supply, curriculum, teacher training, recruitment, quality assurance, and practically any other elements that the school needs — are honed to save prospective owners the considerable cost and time typically consumed by activities associated with starting and operating a school.
The school concept, content, and support are all included in SISU Schools franchise model. The school owner secures the premises, school license, and funds to cover the operational expenses, which typically require some investment in the first one to three years of operations. After that, most schools are expected to be at a break-even point given adequate enrollments and other factors, which is relatively swift in the school sector.
Nahara Maroto Espinosa, a representative for two SISU schools in Mexico that were recently commissioned stated, “We were looking for a franchise with first-class educational innovation, and at the same time with a consolidated academic, operative and management support. With SISU, we found the best option, with people who are experts in the field and who share our passion for quality education.”
The first school, SISU School Punta Cana opened its doors in September 2021, with Pre-K and Grade 1 programs. It will increase to Grade 3 next year due to faster-than anticipated growth and has longer-term plans to expand through to Grade 12. Since the launch, the school has had strong enrollments and high satisfaction among its community. Student enrollment is comprised of primarily expatriate dependents whose parents work in the resort hotel industry, but the school also caters to Dominicans. Other schools in the SISU franchise have extended grades into middle and high school. Most have been new schools, but the SISU model does flex itself for schools currently in operation. High Tech Academy in Almaty, Kazakhstan was the world’s first fully functioning school to join the network.
SISU School Punta Cana
ISS-Lumo officials talk extensively about their commitment to quality education. International Schools Services has been operating in the international school sector for more than 65 years and works with more than 800 schools worldwide across a wide suite of services. Lumo Education works with the award-winning Finnish education approach and is a member of Education Finland, a national education export program offering Finnish educational know-how and learning solutions globally.
“The SISU quality assurance program ensures that the standards of education provided in each SISU School are excellent,” says Hawkins. “We are growing the brand with the right partners/licensees to ensure that quality and the Finnish/American ethos shine through in each school.”
ISS-Lumo officials state that 10 contracts have been signed in less than a year, with many additional projects under negotiation. According to Hawkins, “SISU Schools has the potential to impact the mid-tier educational market in a hugely positive way. SISU Schools is one of the most affordable school start-up packages on the market, and it is the best value on the market by far. With the expertise of ISS and Lumo Education bringing a true Finnish and American mix to the school model, there is no comparable program available near this price point. Interest is pouring in from around the world every day.”