The issue of school choice is a relatively new one for Australian parents, and still a fairly foreign concept overseas.
When a country has a strong public school sector, with few, or even no, private schools, then all government funding for education is funnelled into the one, public school system. Parents usually send their children to the local school and think nothing more of it. The agonising conflict that many Australian parents feel about which school is the best one for their child simply isn't something parents in many other countries need to worry about.
An article by Dr Craig Campbell, published on the ABC news website in 2009, outlines the anxiety many Australian parents feel about school choice for their children.
There are dozens of factors that impact on a child's educational outcomes. As you would expect, many of those factors, although not all, relate to the school. Quality teachers, positive peer groups, strong bullying policies and practices, a strong leadership team - just to name a few.
Given how important the schooling experience is for every child, and how significantly it can impact on the rest of their lives - emotionally, socially and professionally - it's no wonder parents want their child to attend the right school for them. A school that nurtures them, motivates them and instils in them an appreciation of the importance of learning. A school that sets their child up for life.
How to exercise that choice? What should parents consider when they make that all important decision about which school to send their child to?
Here are a few basic tips:
- Reputation. Speak to other parents. Do a basic search for the school in your web browser and look for news articles with more information about the school. If you find disturbing articles, or you hear a number of horror stories from parents whose children attended that school, seek out alternatives.
- Programs. Check the school's website, or call, to find out if the school has the specialist programs your child needs.
- Visit. Take a tour of the school and ask for an appointment with the principal. This will give you a gut feeling about whether the school and the principal are likely to provide a safe and nurturing environment for your child.
Contact us if you need further advice, or you'd like us to put together a full report comparing schools in your area.