Looking to buy within the zone of a popular school to guarantee your child a place?
Maybe you should think about choosing a school right for your child first…
These days, parents are willing to pay just about anything to buy a house within the zone of a popular school. I mean, why pay private school fees when you can get your child a great education for free and invest the money in your family home?
It’s a well known fact that popular schools drive strong capital growth. And those suburbs with the double whammy – a popular primary and secondary school? Well….
But what if you pay the premium to buy within a school zone only to discover your child doesn’t thrive at the school as you’d hoped? What if that school simply doesn’t fit?
It’s worth doing some investigating before you buy to save yourself a whole lot of money and stress.
Here are 4 steps to choosing a school right for your child:
1. Question time
Firstly, you need to get a general sense of the type of school your child will be suited to. Ask yourself –
What are my child’s interests?
Is he or she sporty, academic, artistic or theatrical? Some schools gain a reputation for being strong in a particular field; others offer a more all-rounded approach. Picking a school that’s aligned with your child’s interests will help them connect with the school and draw inspiration from the experiences on offer.
What type of learning style is my child suited to?
Not all schools take the same approach to education. Some are fairly traditional, others more alternative. There’s the teacher-centred approach where the students play a more passive role in class. Then there’s the student-centred approach with greater student participation and the teacher playing more of a facilitator role. Which approach will help your child grow both emotionally and intellectually?
How does my child react to discipline?
“We chose a secondary school for our son based on its high record of results,” mum Jill from Melbourne told us. “It was very strict. They’d issue a detention if a child was caught with even a corner of their shirt hanging out. The learning environment was highly structured and controlled. My son quickly began to lose motivation and confidence, dreading going to school each morning. In year 8, we moved him to a more relaxed school and the positive difference in him was instantly notable.”
Some schools are more disciplined than others. Your child may respond well to a strict environment that keeps them in line. On the other hand, he or she may become anxious and unconfident and respond better with some flexibility.
Is my child suited to a large or small school?
If your child is super sociable, a large school with a mix of personalities, activities and social engagements may be better. On the other hand, large crowds can be intimidating. Your child could feel overshadowed and invisible needing a smaller, more intimate environment.
2. The power of the big, wide, web
Whether you’re moving suburb, state or country, it’s easy these days to find someone who’ll be able to shed light about the school you’re investigating. And there’s nothing like a bit of inside knowledge from parents with kids already attending the school.
Reach out on Facebook and ask if anyone knows a child who attends. You know how social media works, someone you know will have an aunt who has a niece who has a friend whose kids attend the school…
Failing that, reach out within an online community that’s local to the school and let people know you’re doing a bit of investigating. It’s amazing how generous people can be when asked to share their opinion about something.
And then of course there are the school comparison websites like Rate My Teachers where parents can rate the standard of teaching or Good Schools which provides school profiles and info about academic performance, fees and curriculums.
3. The old fashioned approach
Sometimes distance is a problem, but there’s nothing more reliable than your own gut instinct when it comes to picking the right school for your child.
When you visit a school in person, you get a real sense of what it’s like.
Meet with the principal and ask about the school’s co-curriculum activities, bullying policies, teacher turnover rates and academic, social or developmental programs. Ask for a school tour and pop your head in a few classrooms to see the teachers and students in action.
While open days are useful to see how a school pulls together, they’re planned events intended to show off the school’s best attributes. So it’s not a bad idea to also visit a school on an ordinary day when it’s not ‘dressed to impress’.
4. Check out the school website (if they have one)
You can tell a lot of things about a school from their website.
If it’s professional and up-to-date, it suggests the school’s well organised and innovative. The content provided will give a sense of the school’s style and vibe. You should be able to read about any awards, funding or certificates received. And the website calendar will reveal what sort of events the school runs and how often.
Spend some time reading through the newsletters and PTA meeting notes and you’ll get a feel for the people and parents behind the school.
Find this info helpful? Have anything to add? Let us know!