Independent Schools Guide 2018: Making the right choice

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

It goes without saying that making important choices in life can be difficult. When it comes to a child’s education, there is, unsurprisingly, always an added element of stress to making the right decision. So how do parents navigate the difficulties of making a decision about the future for their families?

Here’s what the education experts advise:

Write a list

The Raising Children Network and Centre for Adolescent Health suggests parents write a list to include the types of things they’re looking for in a school before starting the search.
“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.”

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Consider your finances & where you live

Fees and other financial costs associated with a school will always inform the final decision any parent makes. While some parents will be looking for a school closer to home, others may consider boarding either interstate or (from) overseas as an option to ensure their child receives their education of choice.

Keep calm

Associate Professor Helen Proctor, an education researcher with the University of Sydney, advises parents to make a calm decision: “There are so many pressures on contemporary parents that it sometimes seems as if anxiety is supposed to be the natural companion of parenting,” Proctor says.
“Really most schools do a good job most of the time.
“Most teachers want to do the best for your child. Most children are keen to learn, despite how they sometimes act.
“No school is perfect – but a school’s, or teacher’s, imperfections sometimes become the challenges that provide the best learning experiences for young people.”

Attend school open days

Going along to school events, including open days, gives parents the opportunity to ask questions and see how the school works. Being able to see first hand the students and teachers in action will provide a good sense of the school culture, the layout, programs, facilities and other information you may be looking for as a parent. You can also try school fetes or concerts to check out what’s on offer.

Talk to other parents

Parents can also get a good sense of a school, its culture, ethos and academic outcomes, through word of mouth.
Chatting to the parents of children already at a school can give an insight that you may not otherwise get. They can be honest about the pros and cons of the school and let you know why (and how) they made their choice.

Research, research, research

School websites are a really handy way for parents to find out about the school. Most schools will also have a social media account that can give parents (and potential students) a look behind the scenes at what happens day to day.

Remember, you’re choosing for your child, not you

While you may love the idea of a certain school, including your own alma mater, think about whether this is the best option for your child. Will they fit into the culture at the school and does it offer the types of subjects that play to their strengths, academically and otherwise?


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