The Government’s launch of the Myschools website has sparked controversy and debate amongst the Australian public over choosing the best option for your child’s education. Has it made it easier or hard when decided the best school for your children?
Social commentator Glen Gerreyn, who has worked in Australian schools for 10 years, claims the public is being distracted by the debate over public versus private, and that parents should consider a range of factors when a making decision about their child’s educational future.
As the number one motivational speaker in Australia for school students, Glen has visited over 300 schools in every state, across a wide ranging spectrum. He is also the author of the upcoming book Get Your Hopes Up, a personal workbook on goal setting techniques for students needing direction and motivation at school.
“The key for parents is to consider the question ‘What is your vision for your child?’” Glen said. “By vision I mean, what kind of person are you endeavouring to raise? What kind of person do you want them to become? Not just in terms of academic results but character traits. The clearer the vision, the easier the decision will be on which school fits.”
He offers the following tips for parents selecting the right school for their child:
Top Ten Tips:
1. Leadership: Be open to all forms of schools – rather than focusing on public versus private, choose a school based on leadership. The easiest way to critique a school is to see how well the school receptionist greets you. If leadership is strong it will echo throughout every facet of school life.
1. Values: The environment, in which your child learns and grow, will play a significant role in their attitudes, beliefs and behaviour. Does the school you choose for your child share the same values as your family? What is the policy in place regarding behaviour, punctuality and dress code? Make sure these same values are bolstered in the home.
2. Opportunity: What sorts of opportunities are available for your child to pursue at the school of your choosing, not just in terms of subjects, but extra-curricular activities? It is important to provide a place for talents to be cultivated.
3. Discipline: What are the procedures regarding the schools disciplinary issues? How is bullying handled? How will I be notified as a parent if my child has behavioural issues or is a victim and what can I, as a parent do to support the school in these matters?
4. Sense of Community: Does the school you’re interested in have a Parent Teacher’s Association? How does your local school foster interaction with other students and members of the wider community?
5. Openness to Spirituality: This will be an important consideration for some parents, and is not necessarily limited to religion, but also about raising open-minded children who are interested in seeking knowledge and learning about spirituality.
6. Commitment to Social Justice and Community Service: No parent wants to raise a self-centred child –it’s a priority to foster empathy and a sense of social justice. Consider the community and charity projects your child can become involved with at school.
7. Tradition: Are you looking for a traditional or more alternative style of education for your child?
8. Cost: A practical consideration, but obviously very important. There will always be costs to consider – not just school fees, over the course of your child’s school years there are uniforms, textbooks, excursions, and extra-curricular activities.
9. Distance: Be practical where possible, with the time involved in getting to and from school. Your child will spend 78,000 hours at school from K-12. Adding to this unwanted travel, will not instil in them a lifelong commitment to learning. If you find yourself with little choice as to the distance you have to travel, be committed to your child’s education and find ways to make the travel time fun and use this time effectively.
Information and data on individual schools is available from the myschools website (www.myschool.edu.au).
Glen Gerreyn’s upcoming book GET YOUR HOPES UP is available from March 30th 2010 (RRP $27.95) with a percentage of proceeds donated to the Australian Chrohn’s and Colitis Association.
For more information visit www.oxygenfactory.com.au
Photograph by Frangipani photograph