Every school is different, and choosing the right school for your son and family can be an overwhelming and difficult decision. Raising Children suggests that it’s best to think about what will work best for your child’s personality, strengths, needs and interests. The school needs to align with your own family values and be a place where your son will be happy, content and can grow.
Below are five key areas to address when choosing the right school for your son. As you navigate this process, it could be helpful to create a list of things that are most important to your family — your ‘key selection criteria.’ This will help you establish your non-negotiables and narrow down the school options when investigating.
1. Features and specifics
There are many core attributes that vary from each school, including:
- Public or private
- Faith backgrounds and education
- Co-educational or single-sex
- Boarding or day school
- Teaching philosophies, for example Steiner, Montessori or mainstream
- Class sizes
It is important to investigate each core attribute and decide what most closely matches your own family views and circumstances, and ultimately what is going to be best for your son. Consider if the school focuses on one key subject area or takes a balanced approach across all areas.
Do you agree with the school’s ethos and values? It is critical that you agree with what the school will be teaching your son. Ask about the school’s pastoral care program and enquire how they address bullying and health and wellbeing, as well as other important issues.
Think about what is important to you, your family and your son. Are you looking for a highly academic school or one with a strong sports culture? Or perhaps, you are interested in a school that teaches your child more about your religious views?
To find out about a school’s philosophy and approach, look at their website for key documents such as the Prospectus or curriculum handbook.
3. Location and cost
The yearly school fees are a considerable factor when choosing a school. They can also be a considerable expense and one that will impact the whole family. Beyond the yearly school fees, also investigate and take into consideration any additional costs that may arise, such as co-curricular activities or school trips, the cost of uniform and technology requirements e.g. tablets or laptops. Perhaps, your son may be eligible for a scholarship program?
Another big consideration is location when looking at schools. How will your child get to school each day? Will you drive them, can they walk or will they catch public transport? Will the commute add unnecessary stress to you son’s schooling experience? Do you live far away from schools with the best opportunities for your son – will he need to board?
Do your research. Find out the local transport options, map out the journey and trial the route with your son to learn if it is feasible and if there are any difficulties. Investigate whether the school runs any school buses in your local area. Also consider schools with before and after-school care if you work long hours.
4. Facilities and opportunities
Though ATAR does not always provide a complete picture, it is important to see how a school performs academically. My School can help you learn such details.
Confirm that the school has the necessary facilities to support your son’s learning. What elective subjects and study pathways are offered? Does the school offer extension or accelerated learning programs? A great way to determine a school’s focus is to look at what facilities they have invested in.
Ensure that the curricular and co-curricular programs at the school are aligned with your son’s strengths and interests. For example, if your son is interested in engineering, ascertain the school’s focus on STEAM; if your son is a keen sportsman, ask what sporting opportunities are available for him.
4. Parent and community involvement
Every school has a distinct community culture and it’s important to get a feel for the school. Find out how the school communicates with parents and how you can be involved in school activities. Is there a parent portal or a regular enewsletter? How does the school engage with the local community? Do they have community events or programs? Are they active on social media? This will give you good insight into a connected community and whether it is one suited to your family and lifestyle.
There is plenty to consider when choosing a school for your son and we hope this blog has helped you work through your needs and wants. Once you have narrowed the list down and collected the school prospectus of your shortlisted schools, the next step is to book a tour and see the school in action.
At Christ Church Grammar School we build good men. To learn more about our teaching philosophy, curriculum options and opportunities available for your son, download our Prospectus.