Sometimes choosing a school for your child is as easy as geography – the one closest to home is the right one. But for some families, school selection can be a more complicated decision.
About choosing a school for your child
Decisions about where your child goes to school are very personal and can be difficult. It’s common and normal for parents to feel anxious about getting this decision right.
For some parents, the decision is simple. Their children go to the the school that is located nearest to their home or attend the school that their parent studied in. Other parents might want to look further afield at schools outside their immediate neighbourhood.
Things to consider when choosing a school for your child
If you’re looking beyond the nearby schools, think about what will work best for your child’s personality, strengths, needs and interests. You might also consider how different schools’ cultures and values sit with your family values and family life.
Here are some other things you could think about.
Personal values and preferences
School communication and connections
Many parents worry they can’t enrol their child to the ‘best’ school in the area due to overwhelming demand. Every school has strengths that will enhance your child’s experience. Getting to know what those strengths are and how you can support them will benefit your child’s education.
Choosing a primary school
The following questions might be useful if you’re thinking about primary schools:
Choosing schools: important facts and factors
Many parents worry about things like class size or whether a single-sex or co-educational school is best. They also want to know how to find out about a school’s philosophy. Here are some answers that might guide your thinking.
There’s no clear-cut answer to the question of whether students will do better in a smaller class. But teacher quality and working conditions for teachers – that is, being well supported by other staff and having access to resources – are likely to be more important than the number of students in the class.
Single-sex or co-educational
It’s up to you to choose what’s best for your situation, because there’s no conclusive evidence to say that single-sex education is better than co-education.
Generally, whether a school is co-educational or single sex isn’t as important as the school’s quality of leadership, teachers and approach to teaching. Most families will have a personal view about the issue, which is linked to the personality of their child, the parents’ own schooling experience and their family values.
School culture or philosophy
Schools have individual and distinct cultures and teaching philosophies. For example, some have a strong sports ethic, some follow a religious affiliation, and others promote individuality and artistic pursuits.
It all depends on what’s important to you and your child. Are you looking for a school with a balanced sporting and academic approach, or one with strengths in artistic and musical areas, or in science and maths? An environment with a strong academic focus might be important to you, or perhaps one that teaches your child more about your religious views.
Most schools talk about their philosophies and approach in a document like a prospectus, handbook or charter. You might also find this information on the school website.
Before your school search starts, it could help to come up with a list of five things that are most important to you (and your child) in your choice of a school. As you go through the school selection process, think about this list – you might want to add to or revise it as you gather more information.