Choosing the right school

Schools should be student-centred

Jane Caro, co-author of the book What Makes a Good School?, says when choosing a school, parents should remember they are looking for a school for their child and not for themselves.

"Parents and schools need to recognise it's the child who will be attending the school and not the parents,"she says.

"The best schools are the schools that have a student-centred approach, not a parent-centred approach or a school-centred approach.  It's the student's experience that matters."

What does it mean to be student-centre?

Being student centred means that a school caters for the 'whole child'.  Education is not just about learning facts and information.  Education is also about relationships.  A student who has a positive and happy relationship with their teacher and fellow students will feel more comfortable in their learning environment, be more prepared to share and will have a happier educational experience.

The most important thing for parents to determine as they tour a school is, 'if it were me, would I like to go to this school?'

What to look for...

When choosing the right school for your child, look for a school that is open and honest.  If you look for a school that is perfect, you won't find it.  No school is perfect - that is not real life.  You should search for a school that has realistic and achievable expectations for the children, and who have a sensible approach to the learning process and encouraging children to work to the best of their ability.  There is no 'one size fits all' approach to education.  Children do not all learn the same way.  Children will learn best when they are engaged and happy and free of fear and recrimination.

The quality of the teaching staff makes the biggest difference to a students' learning. 

Schools should provide children with appropriate opportunities to learn resilience.  Life is not always going to go their way, so having opportunities to learn how to manage difficulties is important.  It is important that adults don't rush in and rescue children from difficult situations, instead we need to help children learn to deal with problems and how to overcome them.  This is what prepares them for the rigours of the 'real' world.