Checklist for choosing a school for your child

Credit: International Grammar School

Choosing a high school for your child can be difficult with a variety of options available. Consider the checklist below to help determine whether a school suits your child.

1. Learn about the school’s values

Evaluate whether your family’s personal value and preferences align with the schools values or mission.

Some schools have a ‘school charter’ available to read.

You may consider the diversity of the school, whether you want your child to have a religious education and the social justice initiatives of the school.

Speak with your child about whether a coeducational or single-sex education may be beneficial.

2. Immerse yourself in the school culture

When learning about the school culture consider:

  • How do the students interact?
  • How do the teachers and students interact?
  • Observe the attitude of students and staff.
  • What is the schools discipline policy?
  • Does progress get tracked/measured?
  • How involved are parents?

You may wish to discuss communication streams between parents and staff. This will depict how much opportunity for parent involvement is provided by the school.

Dr Mark Merry, Principal at Yarra Valley Grammar suggests taking a tour of the school.

Word of mouth is a great indicator of the health of a school; as too is walking around the campus hopefully on a school tour during school hours. This will give a good sense of how a school feels. Never underestimate the importance of this when gaining a sense of the culture of the school.

3. Extra-curricular offerings

Research the extra-curricular facilities and programs offered by the school. This may help you narrow down schools suited to your child’s interests.

Consider whether your child would prefer competitive sporting teams and fields, creative arts performances and studios, or science clubs and labs.

Ask your child about extra-curricular activities they may be interested in participating in. After school groups and clubs are a great way for students to learn whilst meeting social needs.

freshnam equestrian. choosing a school for your child. extra-curricular equestrian
Credit: Frensham School

Some schools specialise in certain areas. Think about whether your child may benefit from specialising in a particular field such as performing arts or equestrian.

4. Choosing a school that’s practical

Consider the practicality of the school for the family accounting for travel and transport efficiency.

Research whether the location of the school is optimal for drop-offs. If not, discuss with your child whether they are comfortable making the trip back and forth on transport.

Some schools offer private coaches or their own bus service to and from school for certain areas. Discuss with the school or other parents whether this is an option for the area you live in.

Consider whether the school is single-sex or coeducational. You may wish to have all your children at the same school.

You may also consider boarding school during the week or school term if your chosen school is a long commute home.

5. Academic subjects

Find out what electives and subjects are offered for different year groups.

Ask the school about any mandatory subjects, particularly for HSC. For example, many religious independent schools require students to undergo a unit of religion for the HSC.

meriden. choosing a school for your child. science lab students.
Credit: Meriden School

Discuss with your child what electives they would be interested in and potentially their future career. It is important to check whether the school offers subjects your child is passionate about.

6. Wellbeing outreach

High school can be daunting. Ask the school about their wellbeing programs, education and facilities.

Consider whether they have a wellbeing officer or counsellor, guidance counsellor or staff your child can talk to.

If your child has a disability or mental health condition you should discuss with the school how they will be supported.

7. School and class sizes

Many students feel overwhelmed in populated schools, particularly transitioning from primary school to high school.

Have a tour of the school to get an understanding of the campus and class size. Smaller classes may mean individualised attention and education for your child.

Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information about schools please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.


©2022 UMCO. All rights reserved