5 questions every parent needs to ask before choosing a school

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One of the biggest decisions and investments you will make as a parent is choosing the right school for your child. Many parents agonise over this. Some even start to enrol as soon as they know they have a child on the way; particularly if they are planning to send their child to private schools. Many private schools expect a hefty holding deposit to secure a place.

However, not all school choices are agonising, especially if you live in an area where the school has a good reputation. As a general rule, your child automatically has a placement, due to living within the precinct.

Some schools expect plenty of parent involvement with raffles, fund raising events, parent-teacher activities, while others don’t.

The following questions will help you choose a school that best suits your child. Ultimately, every parent wants to see their children thriving and enjoying this stage in their lives, in a school which offers a safe and inspiring learning environment.

1. Private or public?

One of the biggest questions for any parent who chooses a private school education is to ask themselves if they can afford the school fees each year. Educating one child in the private school system from kindergarten through to their final year in high school will run into the hundreds of thousands. According to Australian Scholarship Groups (ASG), a child starting out in the private system will cost on average $375,000, while public school cost is around $55,000 during the lifetime of their schooling years. It is a staggering figure for a parent to come to terms with. The figure does take into consideration items such as clothes, activities, books, travel, shoes, school outings and excursions.

2. Location, location – what are the travel options?

The location of the school is important, particularly with younger children, as more often than not, you will have to supervise their way there and home. The logistics of travelling to the school can be a nightmare if you have to drive your child to school each day and then trek back half way across town to get to work. Consider the time and travel expenses to get your child to the school and back home. Once the child is older, or in high school, then they are old enough to navigate the transport system and make their own way to school and back. Some private schools provide transport for students at various pick-up and drop-off points.

3. Does it have the right culture?

How does the school’s academic performance rate? Does the school’s culture accommodate your requirements on issues like diversity or religious studies? Is the school engaged in community activities, and does the school support children with special needs?

4. Have I done my ‘school’ homework?

Make a list of school you wish to consider, and then contact the school. Most conduct regular school tours and open houses during the enrollment season. A visit is the best way to determine whether a school is right for your child. Even a short visit will help you identify a school’s strengths and challenges. It is also the only way to get a feel for a school’s environment.

This is a great opportunity for you to speak to other parents who are at the school, particularly at open day. Start a conversation with other parents who are in similar positions and ask them why they are considering the school.

While you are there check the facilities, such as toilets, classrooms, gym and sporting areas, to see if they are all well maintained.

5. Is the school aligned to my child’s needs?

Choosing a suitable school for your child is important for their wellbeing and their future career choices. If your child’s strengths are in sciences, does the school have a particular curriculum focus, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)? The same applies if your child’s focus is more towards the arts. If they are sports minded, does the school offer enough sport activities? Does the school have counsellors on hand to help students make important decisions about their subjects and which classes would benefit them most?

This article is brought to you by ANZ School ready – anz.com/schoolready.

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