Parents spoilt for choice
CHOOSING a school for your child can be one of the most difficult decisions parents have to make. For some parents, the decision is made even before their child is born. In the past, the decision of where to send your child was considerably easier because the choices of schools were limited.
Today, websites like My- School and Rate my Teacher have become ‘go-to’ guides for parents when comparing schools. Similarly, social media sites like Facebook seem to be replacing the traditional ‘word of mouth’ recommendations as parents jump online to share their views on education, experiences at a particular school or their own perceptions of a school’s performance or reputation.
Generally though, there is no single factor that influences parents’ decision making when it comes to selecting the ‘right’ school. Rather, it is a combination of factors such as reputation, class size, academic and vocational offerings, extra-curricular activities, location, out of school hours care facilities and cost.
When you talk to parents ultimately what they want for their child is to be happy and engaged in their learning. There is a growing focus around the world on the emotional wellbeing of students as a key part of the learning process. In fact, UNESCO recently published a report titled, Happy Schools, which provides a framework for ensuring student wellbeing in the Asia-Pacific.
Research tells us that safe, happy and motivated students are more likely to be academically successful and have productive and fulfilling lives.
My advice to parents is to visit prospective schools and observe the learning and teaching happening.
Look at the relationships that exist between teachers and students and between the students themselves. Identify who owns the learning – we want to encourage kids to take charge of and be responsible for their learning, not to have it controlled by teachers. And importantly, talk to students about how they feel. It is probably one of the best indicators we have.