If you’re moving house or if your child is starting school, it’s important to find the best school and education you possibly can. Choosing a new school for your child can be challenging – it’s all about balancing education, costs, teaching methods and school culture to determine what’s best for your child.
First off, research the reputation of the local schools in your new area. Does it have a high student achievement rate? Or a low one? Does the school have adequate school supplies and facilities? Does the school employ a steady body of teachers or is there a high turnover?
As always, remember to assess what’s right for your child. A school that constantly produces high test scores is great, but it can also mean a high-pressure environment which might not suit your child.
Curriculum and Teaching
If your child has an interest or talent in a particular subject, find out which schools emphasize this in their curriculum. It’s also a good idea to ask your child what subjects he/she wants at their new school. Do they offer extra-curricular music classes or sports programs, for instance?
Finding out about teaching methods, while not imperative, can be helpful too. Are there particular teaching methods you want (or don’t want) for your child? What are their lesson plans like? Do they use traditional teaching techniques or alternative approaches?
Location and Budget
Make sure the school is in a feasible location, particularly if you’re driving your child to school and picking them up. Also, inquire about uniform, supplies and school fees, as these will differ from school to school. Can you afford the fees comfortably? Private schools are more expensive than public schools, so you’ll need to choose something that works within your budget.
Ask about the size of the school in terms of students and teachers – and find out what the student/teacher ratio is. If you find there is only one teacher for every thirty students, your child might not get the attention he/she needs. You can also ask about class size and if your child will be in a straight or composite class.
Out-of-Hours School Care
If you think you might need before- or after-school care, you’ll need to choose a school that offers this as well. You might not use it all the time, but out-of-hours school care can be useful if both you and your partner are working and don’t have much other support.
School culture is important and relates to things like religious affiliations and relations to the community. Does the school support a particular religion and will this suit your child? How does the school interact with the community? How does the school communicate with parents?
You may also want to ask about what policies the school has in regards to uniform, homework, behaviour, student participation in activities and assignments/exams. It can also be useful to ask how the school deals with incidents of violence and bullying and whether they have any policies in place to combat these types of issues.
It’s imperative to visit your chosen schools before making a decision. You’ll ideally need to speak to the teachers, the Principal and possibly even other parents. Visiting the school will also give you an opportunity to inspect classrooms and school grounds and get an idea of the types of children at the school. It’s a good idea to also take your child with you too, if they’re old enough, so they can form their own opinions about each school.
Ask Your Child
Finally, ask your child for their opinion on each school and what their likes and dislikes are. If they’re a bit too young to have visited the schools with you, it’s still important to talk about the choice and find out if there’s anything in particular they want – or they’re trying to avoid.