How to gauge if an education centre is high quality?
As a parent, sometimes you just don’t have much bandwidth to spend hours chasing an education centre for answers to your questions on course curriculum and teacher qualifications. Instead, we often rely on heuristics to give us a shortcut to determine if an education centre is high quality. Has a work colleague or friend referred them? Have they been raved about in a facebook parent post?
But here are some quick steps a parent can take to answer this question themselves based on publicly available data:
1. Are they properly licensed?
The Education Bureau requires an after school activity center to be registered under the Education Ordinance as a “school” if they host 20+ students on a daily basis or 8+ at any one time and this includes any nursery, kindergarten, primary, secondary or institutions offering any other educational course. The centre should display its certificate of registration at the registered address.
Checking your education centre’s name is listed here gives you some assurance they are following the rules, the premises have been qualified as fit for educational purposes, and are meeting healthy & safety requirements. However, the vast majority of after school activity centres are considered “private school offering non-formal curriculum” (PSNFC), which means they are exempt from many provisions of the Education Ordinance - most notably teacher qualifications. So it is recommended to pair this step with the others to get a more substantive read on the quality of a centre’s operations.
2. What are the job descriptions for the teachers they are hiring?
Just head to google and type in the name of the education centre in question and “teacher job”. If you’re based in HK, there will typically be a search result from JobsDB, HK.Indeed, Recruit.hkfew or other similar platform. Check out the qualification requirements and most importantly the salary – then picture this theoretical candidate sitting & teaching your child.
This is how I discovered that a Maths centre in Aberdeen that has a lengthy waiting list for almost every class is looking to hire a teacher with ~1 year of experience for this salary range. The fact they are not seeking more experienced teachers and are not willing to pay staff to attract talent should have your alarm bells ringing.
3. What are staff saying about working at the education centre?
This is important because teacher satisfaction is a highly correlated indicator to teaching quality. The pivotal responsibility of nurturing students falls on the shoulders of teachers, whose knowledge, affection, and commitment can be greatly influenced by their emotional state and professional satisfaction. According to Lopes and Oliviera (2020), teacher job satisfaction is a determiner of the effectiveness of not only the teacher him/herself but also that of the students, the school environment and the educational system at large.
So head over to google again and type in your education centre name and “glassdoor”. This sort of review should give you a warm & fuzzy feeling.
But not this one.
4. What impression do you get from their social media and do they have a LinkedIn profile?
I don’t mean to suggest an education centre should be prioritizing investing time sending out facebook and Linkedin posts rather than focused on curriculum development or guiding students/parents. However, a low number of followers and long periods of inactivity (such as this image which shows no posts in over 10 months) can indicate liquidation risk.
On the flipside, a lot of recent posts with smiling children’s faces and engaged parent likes and shares can indicate many happy customers.
A LinkedIn presence can also indicate an education centre’s participation in the broader business community and hence a desire to build a reputation beyond retail mums and dads. This is usually correlated with professional business partnerships/certifications/affiliations and can be interpreted positively.
5. Are there online reviews from parents?
Google reviews can be an extra data point on other parent experiences. At Bizibuz, we also ask every parent that has completed a booking on the platform to share a star rating and comments in order to give back to the community, so it’s also worth searching for the particular education centre here: https://www.bizibuz.com/courses
Just click on +More filters and enter the education centre name in the Kidzbiz field.
6. Are they on the Bizibuz platform?
Even if the education centre hasn’t been reviewed on Bizibuz, the mere fact they have courses on our platform is a sign of commendation. We manually review every education centre application to join Bizibuz and put them through a rigorous KYC onboarding process. We also actively seek feedback from parents on their experiences with centres, immediately remove any education centres that do not adhere to ethical business practices and provide generous reimbursement policies to parents. If you’ve booked through the Bizibuz platform, we guarantee you full compensation.
The highly fragmented and largely unregulated nature of the supplementary education industry means there is a reasonable amount of unscrupulous behaviour. At Bizibuz, we actively work to protect the interests of Bizibuz parents and foster the educational development of children.