What makes a great school? If one were to ask this question to a roomful of parents of school-going children, there’s sure to be answers ranging from good infrastructure and teachers to a stimulating learning environment and NAPLAN results. There’s also likely to be a hard-nosed debate on the merits of each feature.
Educators are now questioning whether a more reasonable question for parents to ask is whether it is the ‘right’ school and whether your child would be happy here.
ASG has spoken to educators and parents to put together a list of questions parents can ask during a school visit or keep an eye out for when on a school tour.
On relationships between students, parents and the teaching staff
- How are students at the school encouraged to openly express their views?
- What programs does the school have in place to encourage student participation?
- How are children encouraged to support each other?
- What is the bullying policy? Bullying can thrive in schools where student concerns are ignored.
- How can parents assist in the school’s programs?
- Does the school welcome parent concerns and discussion? Ask to see the procedure for resolving parental concerns.
On student welfare and wellbeing
- Children have the right to feel safe and respected during their school years. How does the school ensure this?
- Explore the school’s focus – is it discipline, pastoral care, skill and academic development, or behavioural management? Seek out the approach and balance that seems right for your child and your education goals.
- You should also explore the school’s Student Wellbeing Policy, Student Code of Conduct, the Attendance Policy, Alternative Programs (for children with individual needs), and how it handles child protection and mental health promotion.
- Does the school have first aid or medical facilities, and trained medical staff or trained first-aid providers?
- If your child has specific health needs, such as an allergy, be sure to ask detailed questions to determine how the school will cope with these.
On facilities and school environment
- Ensure the school’s facilities are adequate, clean and in good repair.
- Check out the technology facilities and the policy for updating computer equipment, software, internet access and technology-based teaching tools.
- Do you require a school with a before- or after-school care program?
- Is the playground attractive with appropriate equipment for children’s different developmental levels?
- Can the children visit the school library throughout the school day?
- Are other supervised extra-curricular programs available at lunchtime?
Class size and structure
- Satisfy yourself that the school policies are based on best educational philosophy and practice with a clearly articulated plan to support the progress of all students.
- While small classes used to be found in private schools, this is no longer necessarily the case, so check with the individual school for its policy.
Before you head off for a school tour or open day, do your homework. Read about the school’s profile and jot down the most pertinent questions. Afterwards, match the responses with your child’s personality and strengths. Getting the right fit can make a big difference to your child’s future and his or her education and happiness.
For more information, visit asg.com.au
Visit ASG and download the Choosing a School with Confidence guide for more.