A parent’s perspective

How many children do you have?   We have two boys, aged 11 and 13 years old.

Our eldest son is in Year 8 and our younger son started in Year 5 last year.

Both attend an Independent Catholic School.   How did you go about choosing the   right school for your sons?   We did a great deal of research into many different schools.

In addition to visiting school websites and attending open days and school tours, we also spoke to parents of children attending the respective schools to help inform our decision.   What factors came into play?   A major factor for us was choosing a school that held the same principles in areas such as discipline, work ethic and accountability that our family also shared. The optimum outcome for your child is to have the school and family supporting each other and working together on their education.

It is important to make sure you share the school’s mission. Of course, location is an issue as you don’t want them having to travel long distances after a late or early training session.

Cost is also always an issue, regardless of how much money you have.

However, you need to remember that the dollar value does not necessarily determine the quality of the education.

You need to look for what you are getting for the money.

Higher fees do not always equate to better education. Sometimes it just equates to fancy facilities and rolling lawns!   What were some of the difficulties you   faced when choosing a school?   We really didn’t have much trouble choosing Waverley College for our boys. There are many fine schools in our area. Some have good facilities, some are really pricey and some are a bit snobby.

We didn’t want our boys to develop an elitist attitude or a sense of entitlement that can sometimes come with expensive schools. The school we chose draws students from all different walks of life, from all over Sydney and from varied socio-economic backgrounds.

Because it’s an independent school, of course there are the ‘rich’ kids, but there are also plenty of families that work hard just to send their kids there.

This is more like the real world and that is how we want our children raised. What were some of the easier decisions to make? Our decision was fairly easy as Waverley College ticked all the boxes that we thought were important. What was the best piece of advice you received? Go with your gut feeling about a school. If there is something niggling in the back of your mind, don’t ignore it.

Your child’s educational experience is more important than choosing a school just because mum or dad went there.

Also, not all kids suit all schools and it is alright for your kids to go to different schools if they don’t suit the same one as each other. What advice would you offer for other parents when choosing a school? Do your research.

Check out websites, but more importantly go to open days and tours.

You can’t really get a good feel for a school just from a website.

They all look pretty good online, but the real ‘feel’ of a school is apparent when you visit.

Try to organise a visit on a normal school day so you have a good impression of what the school is like without the ‘bells and whistles’ at formal open days.

Also, try to talk to parents who are already at the school.

They are the most valuable resource. Tell us about your children’s experience when picking schools and how they feel about their current school. When we were in the process of choosing the children’s school, we really didn’t include them in any decision-making process.

We felt it was our decision as parents.

After all, the input from an eight year old was going to be more about whether the school has a swimming pool or sells ice-creams at the canteen than about anything actually relevant to their education. We moved our boys from a public primary school at the start of Year 5 to an independent school.

While initially there was resistance — “I miss my old friends”, “I want to go back to my old school because we got less homework” — they are both happy now. Our 13 year old has been at Waverley College now for three years and says to his younger brother who is just starting at the same school, “You should try really hard because you have been given a great opportunity to be the best you can be. Don’t waste that.” It is so wonderful to hear him convey his appreciation for the school that he attends. Is there anything else you would like to add? I’m glad our days of choosing a school are over.

It is very time-consuming and weighs heavily on your mind.

You want to get it right because it’s so important.

When you make your decision, and it’s a good one, life is good! We are so grateful that we are happy with the decision we made.

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