Thursday, July 8, 2010

Choosing The Right School.

Master 4 is half way through his first year at Pre-School so we are just beginning to think about schools. Choosing the right school for your child or teen is important as it can have a big impact on their happiness and well being as well as how well they do at school.

The Federal Government’s launch of the controversial Myschool website on 28th January has reignited the age old debate over public versus private schools and choosing the best option for your child’s education. Whilst some parents are being distracted by the debate over public versus private, I feel parents should consider a range of factors when a making decision about their child’s educational future. The key for parents is to consider this question ‘What is your vision for your child?’ By vision I mean, what kind of person are you endeavouring to raise? What kind of person do you want them to become? Not just in terms of academic results but character traits. The clearer the vision, the easier the decision will be on which school fits.

Below I have suggested some processes you could work through with your child or teen to help make the right decision

List schools to consider
Make a list of schools near your home and any others you might want to consider.

When deciding which schools to consider, here are some practical things to think about and discuss with your son or daughter:

  • What schools are their friends going to? Does the school you’re interested in have a Parent Teacher’s Association? How does your local school foster interaction with other students and members of the wider community?

  • Are there any schools that family or friends have recommended?

  • How will your child or teen get to and from school? Be practical where possible, with the time involved in getting to and from school. Your child will spend 78,000 hours at school from K-12. Adding to this unwanted travel, will not instill in them a lifelong commitment to learning.

  • Is there a safe route to walk or cycle, or is someone available to pick them up? Or will they be catching a school bus?

  • Will your child be able to meet up with friends after school? Will they need to be supervised before and/or after school?

  • Does the school have a uniform? The environment, in which your child learns and grow, will play a significant role in their attitudes, beliefs and behaviour. Does the school you choose for your child share the same values as your family? What is the policy in place regarding behaviour, punctuality and dress code? Make sure these same values are bolstered in the home.

  • What are the costs to attend the school?A practical consideration, but obviously very important. There will always be costs to consider – not just school fees, over the course of your child’s school years there are uniforms, textbooks, excursions, and extra-curricular activities.

  • Is there a school zone and do you live in it?

List your education priorities
Your priorities may vary depending on your child or teen’s talents and needs. What are you prepared to compromise on, and what are your `must haves'? Here are some examples of priorities that you might see as important:

  • A strong emphasis on a particular curriculum area of interest to your child or teen, eg music or sport

  • Additional support for special needs or talents. For example, your child or teen excels at maths or is learning English as a second or additional language
    a bilingual

  • Particular subjects offered at senior level which support your child’s career or academic aspirations.

  • Openness to Spirituality. This will be an important consideration for some parents, and is not necessarily limited to religion, but also about raising open-minded children who are interested in seeking knowledge and learning about spirituality.

  • Discipline. What are the procedures regarding the schools disciplinary issues? How is bullying handled? How will I be notified as a parent if my child has behavioural issues or is a victim and what can I, as a parent do to support the school in these matters?

Make a shortlist
Based on your priorities, narrow down your options to one or two schools. Then, to finalise your choice:

  • talk to other families whose children go to those schools

  • look at the reports for the schools - available online

  • request each school's enrolment information, eg enrolment package, information booklet, prospectus and check out their websites

  • visit each school with your child or teen. You could make an appointment to talk to the principal or take a walk around the grounds during the weekend. You'll get a feel for the school and see what facilities are available.

  • attend the schools' open days or information evenings

  • for secondary only, check out results for the schools

Taking the time to choose the right school together will benefit your child or teen in the long-term – both for their education and general well being.


  1. thank you yet again Nate starts pre-school next year gulp.....and I've been so fussy about that. Now I've decided I'm thinking about school for 2013....I've toured the two local Catholic schools (he'll need to go catholic to have any chance on the high-school of preference) and think I've made a decision but will go through your list to make sure :)

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