Choosing a school for your child is an extremely important decision for parents and carers to make. After nuturing and caring for your child up until school age, you want to make sure that you are handing them over to a school that is going to give them the best possible start in their education and onward life.
, Photo Alice Astro, Wikimedia Commons
Here are a few factors that will likely come into play when making your decision:
Local Area One of the first factors that needs to be considered is what schools are in your local area that guarantee your child a place due to your catchment area. Once you know where you child could possibly go, you then need to decide if you are happy with these schools. When choosing a school for your first child, you likely have little knowledge of the local school so here's how you could possibly find out a little bit more to make informed decisions:
1) Ask around. Do any of your friends children attend the local schools? What is their opinion of it?
2) Post a question on local mums forums or parenting pages, asking for experiences of the schools in your area and opinions.
3) Go and visit your local school or attend an open day. Take questions along with you that you'd like to ask and come away armed with infomation and a first impression of your own. Find out if the school will meet your childrens educational needs, which is particularly important if you know there is a learning disability that you wish the school to assist with. Possible things to find out include:
- What are the extra curricular activities?
- What are the school values?
- What are class sizes and structure?
- What is the curriculum followed?
- What support is available if my child struggles?
- What programs are available if my child is gifted?
- What facilities does the school offer?
- What is the model for discipline?
- What religion is taught at the school?
- What is the admissions policy for the school?
4) Do your research, head to My School to find out a little bit more about the schools performance and how it compares to similar schools in your area.
Fun Fact My School allows you to search through the profiles and statistics of almost 9,500 Australian Schools. You can find out a bit more about the school you are researching in addition to how students are performing at the school, as well as being able to compare schools as well.
Once you've found out a bit more information about the school in your local area that you are eligible to attend, you can then make a decision if you are happy for your child to go to that school.
Outside of your area If you are not happy with the schools in your area, dependent upon where you live, you could decide to look at schools outside of your catchment area or you could look at the range of private schools available. With both of these options, it would be worthwhile conducting the same type of research as you did with your local catchment schools. There a few important considerations to also think about if you are forced to look outside of your catchment area:
- Do the other schools allow pupils from outside of the catchment area?
- Is there a wait list for the schools?
- What is the cost of the school (for private education).
- What is the admissions policy for the other schools?
Dependent upon where you are based, there are some suburbs where schools are highly oversubscribed, so priority is typically only given to those in the local area. Private schools also can be extremely popular with some schools having long waiting lists with parents putting a kids name on the list almost from birth.
It's a tricky process deciding upon a school that is right for you, so it's something that should definitely be undertaken well before your child is due to commence their school life education.