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As parents of a pre-school child we’ve all heard the phrase, “That school’s got a great reputation!”

We hear it frequently at Day Care Centres, Kindergartens, local cafés, playgroups, gyms and children’s birthday parties. But what does a ‘great reputation’ actually mean when it comes to selecting the right school for your child? In my opinion, not very much.

Often, a school’s reputation is built on factors such as results, socioeconomic factors, marketing expertise, and most commonly, the experiences of a very loud few. This is not to disregarded the idea of reputation completely, but it must be looked at within the bigger picture of a school and what it has to offer your child.

In these times of vast educational choice, it is very difficult for parents to know exactly what to look for and who to listen to. Gone are the days of sending our kids to the closest local school without a second thought.

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Today, choosing the best educational environment for our children is considered one of the most important decisions we can make for their future. Buzz words such as ‘inquiry based learning’, ‘higher order thinking’ and ’individualised curriculum’ only serve to confuse and overwhelm us. However if we can’t look to a school’s reputation to guide our decision making process, where do we turn?

My suggestion is to look to your child. Your child is unique. While they possess many qualities in common with other children, they also display a range of individual interests, strengths, weaknesses, social, emotional and educational needs. For example, does your child show a particular interest in extra-curricular activities such as sport or music? Does your child require academic extension or intervention? Does your child make friends easily, or might they require extra support in this area? Does your child learn best by listening or by doing? Just to name a few!

Schools vary considerably in their structures, class sizes, programs, facilities, policies, teaching approaches, extra-curricular activities and after school-hours care options. The process of aligning some of these factors with your child’s individual needs will offer you a greater understanding of how an educational environment may suit your child and the requirements of your family.

Now back to the all important question; is school reputation fact or fiction? As a parent, teacher and Education Consultant I would argue that reputation is a relatively insignificant factor in the school selection process.

While no educational environment is perfect, asking the right questions based on your child’s needs will set you up to make the most educated and well informed decision possible. ​

How did you choose the right school for your child? Share with us in the comments.

  • i totally agree as parent of two As a parent, and I would argue that reputation is a relatively insignificant factor in the school selection process. I don’t think you can ever be 100 sure whether you’re sending her children to the right school or not even no parents to ask a lot of questions before making that decision my two boys have disabilities and believe you me I asked a lot of questions before making a decision and what’s school to put them in while I do like Public Schools . My first son went to a normal public school and and his first week you got put up against a wall by another child that made it very difficult for him what you want to go back to school and the teacher’s did nothing about it in saying that my Second went to a Special School because he had a severe disability the way they structure a the program and him was absolutely wonderful and he tried for quite some time because their policy on bullying other students quite firm that was a great so he I didn’t have to go through that made a big difference.

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  • Public Primary School pupils are zones according to the areas they live in.
    You may live less than 10 minutes walk from a school yet be the other side of the zone but if you are one long road away you may have to catch a bus to school and home again. A parent/guardian does the return trip twice. This is what happens in SA, I don’t know about other states.

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  • Most parents that speak out about the reputation of a school do so because they have had either a really terrible or really good experience. Sometimes these experiences could be a matter of safety for children so I do think reputation is important to consider among other factors.
    To make parental feedback less subjective the government should be releasing the data from parent and student school surveys to the public so we can use this in our decision making.

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  • Finding the right school for your child takes research and discussion.


    • Feedback from other parents , reviews and school sites do help in getting a feel for a school.

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  • The ‘right’ school for your child is a very elusive beast since I think they all have their flaws. As important as teachers are, I think that the child’s peers are important to consider, since these often come to have more influence than the adults in the school. And in terms of finding a school with ‘good peers’ I think it is hard. I don’t know what the highest fee paying schools are like (I’m sure their kids have their issues) because my experiences come from the low fee end of religious/private schooling. My observation is that those families who invested in sending their child to this religious school from a young age tended to produce better ‘peers’ for my children than those who did not. Parents who were paying from the start tended to have nice kids! who were a good influence, with very few school yard problems. After year 8 there is another intake and families join in sending their children to a private school after a public school start. It is fascinating how all the ‘social problems’ that my children tell me their peers experience – bullying, domestic violence, depression, not working, police trouble etc. – are from families whose children joined the religious school later. I’m just thankful that in the child’s earliest years they had such a good start, and are hopefully more equipped to deal with the ‘troubled kids’ that they are shoulder to shoulder with now.

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  • I always liked public schools that offered different programs for the kids, like challenge classes, or the kids are tested for example in math and then divided into different classes where they are with kids with their same abilities. So, during math for example, they go to another class where they meet with other kids from their same year. I find it a great way to nurture academic kids and don’t put pressure on kids with lower abilities. It’s a sort of “personalized” program that in my idea should be more available around Australia.

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  • Feedback from parents you know is actually very helpful, because you have a better sense of how their view calibrates against your values (for example).

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  • Different schools work for different kids. All I want is a school that will teach my son the way he learns best.

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  • To be honest we don’t value the reputation of the school much in the selection of the school for our children. The reputation of a school is often not objective at all. Good to look at the child and what they need to develop and blossom indeed.

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  • My older children went to the local schools. My daughter was home schooled due to health problems and my younger two am looking into schools for them.

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  • My friend moved to an area for a school with a good reputation and I can tell you, she is not that happy with the school and things she tells me-well, I’m not that impressed

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  • I did move into an area because of the school’s reputation and I was happy with my decision, but I think a lot has to do with the teachers and the child’s temperament.

    Reply

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