Designing a School System from the Ground Up
Scaling an entire network of schools for the growing Peruvian middle class
Redesign the K–12 learning experience for a growing network of schools—from the curriculum to the teacher training to the school buildings—with an eye toward expansion and a goal to provide international-quality education at an affordable price.
Innova has opened over 63 schools in Peru that are serving more than 50,000 students. It is now the largest private school network in Peru. The school system has also expanded to Mexico, where four schools serve more than 1,800 students, as well as to Colombia, where three schools serve more than 1,600 students.
Innova was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the 16 schools defining the future of education.
Curriculum, teaching strategies, buildings, operational plans, and an underlying financial model to run the network of schools and position it to scale quickly.
How do you lift up the middle class in a developing country?
That was the challenge facing Peruvian entrepreneur Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, who hired IDEO to build an entire network of schools powered by a progressive new learning model. IDEO’s mandate: to redesign Innova’s entire K–12 learning experience, from the curriculum to the teacher training to the school buildings, with an eye toward expansion and a goal to provide international-quality education at an affordable price—about $100 a month.
Innova Schools is a part of Intercorp, a family of 35 businesses that span everything from banks to retail stores and added schools to its portfolio. In 2010, the company had five existing schools but realized that its existing model could not grow. The shortage of well-trained, high-quality teachers in Peru, combined with rising land costs, meant the schools would need to radically change course to succeed.
To learn about scalable school models around the world, IDEO researchers visited inspirational schools and learning programs, and looked to analogous systems like retail, hospitality, and health care to understand their approaches to scale. Throughout the project, they collaborated with teachers, students, and the Innova Schools team in co-designing the work itself.
Together, Innova Schools and IDEO developed the curriculum, teaching strategies, buildings, operational plans, and underlying financial model to run the network of schools.
"I was blown away by Innova Schools," said Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy. "It's inspiring to see such an affordable school deliver a quality of education that would rival schools in the richest countries."
Early sketches of the classroom experience.
The new Innova Schools combine teacher-led, project-based learning in small groups with self-directed time using digital learning tools. Teachers monitor students’ work online and offer personalized guidance. Parents can view their children’s progress online as well.
Dynamic learning environments include community spaces, media labs, rooftop study areas, amphitheaters, and cafés that are optimized for flexibility: furniture on wheels, movable walls, and efficient uses of space to allow for different modes of learning.
The future of our country rests on our ability to successfully educate the next generation. IDEO helped Innova design a school model that brings international quality education to Peru.
Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, CEO Intercorp
An online Teacher Resource Center includes a database of more than 18,000 custom lesson plans based on a progressive new teaching approach. The center helps teachers learn their craft and gives them a chance to connect across the network.
The business model of Innova Schools was developed at the same time as the school experience. Designers leveraged the economies of scale that come from building a network of schools and centralized tools, such as data systems that allow all the schools to learn together.
The project has allowed Innova to open more schools at an affordable cost to families, ultimately giving more of Peru’s youth the chance to compete in the global economy. This comprehensive approach to system design ranks as one of Latin America’s most ambitious privately funded educational projects, and is on track to become the largest private school network in the region. To date, Innova has opened 63 schools in Peru that are serving more than 50,000 students.
A blended learning approach combines self-directed and group time.
A good system design doesn’t end with strategy. The work on Innova Schools also had a huge influence on the company, according to Rodriguez-Pastor. Through the creation of new roles and an aligned set of values, Innova’s central office has become a much more nimble and creative organization. They’re constantly scanning the world for inspiration in how to best educate their students, while building out the new innovations. They realize that design thinking can become an integrated part of their daily management of this growing network of schools.