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Big Decision Time - Tips to Help With Choosing a New School

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Changing schools and particularly making the move to High School is always a big decision for you and your child. You will be faced with a barrage of information from school Open Days to take in about the next step in your child's education.

Take advantage of every opportunity to view the school in normal everyday operation apart from Open Days which merely "showcase" what they offer. Open Days are a bit like a great window display - you need to go in to see more.

  • Phone the school and ask to make a time to have a viewing tour on a normal operating day. This way you’ll gather information about how the teachers interact with their students, how the students interact with their teachers and each other. You’ll see what “feels” right. You’ll know whether your child will “fit” this school and whether this school will “fit” your child.
  • Talk to parents who already have children going to that school – this way you get first-hand information about what it’s really like to be part of that school.
  • Consider what’s best for YOUR CHILD – how that school is going to meet any needs they may have – special abilities, learning, physical, social and behavioural needs.
  • Consider what’s important to YOU and YOUR CHILD – how this school fits with your family “ethos” and values.
  • Investigate what systems and opportunities the school has in place to keep you “in the loop” about how your child is progressing.
  • Check out their EXAM results if looking at High Schools – Year 11 might seem a long way off but it’s an indication of how children are prepared leading up to exams.
  • Check out the latest ERO report.
  • Check out the curriculum options in the senior part of the school, once again it may seem a long way off, but it is worth consideration.
  • Weigh up how important sports options, cultural opportunities are to you and your child - against academic opportunities.
  • Investigate what that school gets involved in – challenges, competitions and other opportunities. Is there something here for your child?
  • Investigate leadership opportunities.
  • Consider how well this school would equip your child with the skills and opportunities for the next step in their education – whether it is tertiary education, vocational training or the work force.
  • Discuss with your child how you see the various options. You can communicate your preference but do LISTEN to your child about what they prefer – in the end they have to be “on board” with the final decision.

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