The modern financial planner today is not just about looking after money with its scope drifting into increasingly “non-monetary” matters such as education. Indeed, if the goal is to send children to private school that needs to be factored in budgeting. Increasingly, however, many are being used for counsel and a sounding board on life choices.
The selection of your children’s school is one of the most deeply thought about propositions for parents and its high stakes.
Below are 5 key tips that parents should consider when considering the options, regardless of whether public or private education is the likely pathway.
Understanding That Family Background is One of The Key Drivers of Success...
Speak to almost any teacher or school leader and mention the name John Hattie. One way or another you’ll draw a response, but very few educators will stare back with a blank look. As a researcher, Hattie has developed a list of the strategies that deliver high impact for student learning.
Of course Hattie looks at teacher quality, peer groups, facilities and the impact of the Principal, but also noted the impact that the student’s family has in student development. It is therefore worth factoring in your planning just how you will plan for experiences and the structure at home to maximise both the academic performance and wellbeing of your son or daughter.
Some families are opting for public education and using that money to invest in a range of activities outside of school that develop the child, but also strengthen the bonds of the family and create great memories. Others firmly believe that the cost of buying into an old boy or old girls network is priceless. Both have merit but mean very different discussions when you work with your financial planner.
Understand the School and How it Feels...
Whilst the much debated MySchool website has quite a bit of information about schools, it is only one narrow lens to evaluate a school. Although it can really help shape some key questions about what you start to look for and the questions to ask there are other tools to help support your decision.
Schools in Australia are also required to publish Annual reports and these along with newsletters, social media, open days/nights and even the annual fete are a great way to collate information about both the performance the “feel” of the school. We therefore recommend that you explore all the data available to you…
School is More Than Just Marks...
Not all schools achieve results that place them on the top of the so called league tables. Even the Gonski 2.0 report published earlier in 2018 has highlighted the need to promote student growth (that is, one year of growth for every year at school). Not an unreasonable expectation but one that is very difficult to collect data on. Schools generally reflect the community that they serve so speaking with parents, reading newsletters and asking current students about what they like about their school and what does their school do well will tell you much more than many of the glossy prospectuses.
All Things to All People...
Like Hattie, ask current educators about the term differentiation. Again, you’ll garner a wide range of responses. Most will agree that it is important, but the modern day challenge of many aspects of life for things to be all things to all people is immense. As a parent, you need to look carefully at the number of opportunities that exist for your child. I’m yet to meet a parent that doesn’t want their child to be happy and well-rounded during and after school. Looking closely at not only what happens in the classroom but also in a schools co-curriculum program is essential. Both are areas where students can fly and develop hard and soft skills that equip students for success long after Year 12.
Reputation: Know it, But Don’t be Fixated on it...
Everyone has an opinion on schools.. The reputation of a Principal, the recent results, the manicured lawns or even the quality of the uniform adds to ones perception. They all have impacts, but school leaders know incredibly well that it takes a long, long time to develop the reputations of the schools and only seconds to dent it.
With social media, google and chat forums there is a lot more noise than many years before. Take every opportunity look around, talk and meet with the Principal. Ideally, take a school tour when classes are actually on. You know your child better than anyone. The challenge is collecting enough information from enough sources to make a decision.
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