How do I know if my child is in the right school

by | Dec 8, 2022 | Education, Thoughts & Opinions

The significance of choosing the best school for your child cannot be disputed by any parent. Whether your child is in primary school or high school, selecting a school for them should be a careful and considered choice.Many parents prioritise prestige above all else. They mistakenly think that enrolling their child in a prominent, big-name school is distinguished and will equal a quality education. This isn’t always the case.Choosing the best school for your child can be intimidating, but fortunately we are here to give you some guidelines.

Agility – are they adapting or falling behind?

Is your child’s school able to adapt in the current technological climate with the right technology for the job (which is not necessarily the fanciest or most expensive)? Do they stay current and relevant, focusing on teaching the tech skills our children will need when they finish school? Are they able to adapt to current events happeningall over the world – or follow what everyone else is doing?

Do they teach how to think, or what to think? – Do they teach real life applications?

Will your child leave school with a certificate or a Portfolio of Self? It’s very important that students are not just seen as one 2-dimensional line of marks on a matric certificate when they leave.
There’s a whole lot more to that person – those marks don’t define them.  Do they learn how to take a test – or do they learn how to learn?

Look at what other applications and life skills the school teaches – or is it limited to academic curriculum only?

Matric pass rate and international curriculum

Accreditation is imperative. You might be surprised by how many “unregistered” schools are around at the moment – no jokes. And even more scary – some parents blindly trust that their child is getting an accredited, internationally recognised education. Look up the schools’ registration number for starters (This is called an EMIS number). 

Are they UMALUSI accredited? Only fully UMALUSI accredited schools can offer the National Senior Certificate (matric for both government and private SA schools). Do they use the IEB (Independent Examination Board) which is automatically accepted by scores of international universitiesMatric pass rate is also a pretty good research topic – if that is important to you.

How many teachers know your child by name? Does your child interact with other students of different grades or just their friends? Strong language abilities, inventiveness, social intelligence, curiosity and self-assurance can all be developed in children in the correct socially engaging setting. For young children, playing and interacting with classmates, students of other ages and adults offers a wealth of educational possibilities and is representative of the world they will navigate as adults.

How many kids are in their class?

The world is getting smaller. Nowadays, more and more schools try to offer smaller classes and there is a good reason for this shift:  our world is becoming overloaded with information which is causing mental overwhelm. Small classes give your child an environment that allows them to learn how to become discerning about what information they need and how to use it, instead of becoming overwhelmed. If your child’s class has 25 or more students in it, the environment itself is already overwhelming so these skills suffer. Every child benefits from being ‘seen’. Do their Teachers just teach, or do they learn with the students?

There is a clear line between respect and fear. A student should never be afraid to speak to their teacher – in fact, they should be comfortable enough to respectfully challenge and question them. 

Teachers need to be open to learning themselves, and not take on the role of a Dictator. Gone are the days of the ‘Sage on the Stage’. Today is the time of the ‘Guide on the Side’ who mentors and facilitates your child’s educational journey. 

Personalities differ and so do people’s educational needs. There is no one “cookie-cutter” solution when it comes to finding a school where the culture and environment ‘feel’ right. What works for your hairdressers’ cousins’ niece might not work for your child. Make sure you research the school that you are looking at, meet the headmaster, talk to other students at the school and listen to your gut.

What are other parents saying about the school?

Is it good enough or is it exceptional? Speak to other parents about their experience. Look for social proof: Reviews on social media, google and on their website. Even ask anonymously in your local Facebook groups – if there are bad reviews, someone will inevitably message you. Remember that school adage: ‘We’ll believe 50% of what your child tells us happens at school if you believe 50% of what your child tells you happens at school’. Ask yourself, “Does that sound right?”

Is your child happy?

You are making a commitment that will last five – twelve years (not to mention the lifelong impact school will have on your child). That shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s unrealistic to base a decision on the success of the school’s rugby team, one current teacher or because your uncle’s uncle says it’s the best. Have a conversation with your child – are they truly happy. Here is a list of signs that your child might be unhappy at school.

Is the fee they gave you in their prospectus, the fee you are actually paying? Which books do you need to buy, how many times will they go on camp, do clubs and sports cost extra, is there a library fee or compulsory Hot Dog days? These might not sound like a lot – but it all adds up. Make sure you are aware of ALL the extra bits and bobs before you write the signup cheque.

The most important thing you can do when searching for a school – is Researching. Research everything you can, gain as much knowledge as possible so you can make a solid and educated decision in the end.