From primary school through to high school most children will spend about 13,000 hours at school, so the decision on what school to send them to is a very important one.
Sometimes choosing the right school will be as simple as geography – finding the school that is the closest to your home.
But for some families, school selection can be a more complicated decision.
The Good Schools Guide says, “Without doubt, the best way to start the search is to give some thought to your child’s potential to succeed at different things and in different environments.”
They suggest you need to:
- Get a clear picture of your child's interests, abilities and weak spots
- Consider their academic strong points as well as their aptitudes in sport, art and other extracurricular areas
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Then it’s a matter of finding the school that best caters to these requirements.
There are also personal values, preferences and school-specific factors to take into consideration such as:
- Do you want your child to have a religious education?
- Do you prefer public or private education?
- Are you interested in a particular teaching philosophy – for example, Steiner, Montessori or mainstream?
- Would you prefer a single-sex or co-ed school?
- Do you need to send your child to a boarding school?
- Are the school fees and other costs affordable?
- Is your child more likely to thrive in bigger or smaller class sizes?
- What school are your child’s friends going to?
Jessica, a mum whose child started big school at the beginning of the year, said her decision was a difficult one.
“I originally had my child enrolled into the school closest to our home, but then I discovered there was a huge number of children (over 160) starting that year,” she said. “Knowing that my child was shy and not very confident I was worried that he would get lost in the crowd.
“I did some searching around for other schools in the area and ended up enrolling him in a wonderful school that had smaller class sizes and a lovely school community. It made the transition to big school a positive and easy one for my son and I.”