Friday, 7 December 2012

questions of schooling

I just want to preface this post by saying I have absolutely no judgement on where or how people choose to educate their children. This is all my own experience and opinions and thought process in making the decision for my child’s education.


Mayana has one year left before she goes off to big school. It makes me feel quite ill to think about it. And with waiting lists for schools around here filling quickly, it seems that it is time to be thinking about where we’re going to send her in 2014.

The obvious choice of course is sending her to my school, but I don’t want to make the choice only because it is the obvious one. My school is a Christian school, and is quickly growing, with a good reputation. The Prep classes seem to fill up quite quickly, and I know and like all of the teachers in Prep and the rest of the junior school.

There are also two schools with good reputations within walking distance of where we live now. One is a Catholic school and one is a State school. The Catholic school has a really cool art department, and from what I understand teaches allied arts (visual arts, drama, dance and music) as specific subjects for all ages. That really appeals to me. People I’ve spoken to who send their children there seem happy with it. I like the idea of having a Christian curriculum, and I find that Catholic curriculum is quite well rounded (I did a prac in a Catholic school and had many opportunities to explore and engage in the ‘theology’ curriculum). My school doesn’t have a specific Christian curriculum, though teachers are encouraged to embed the teaching of Christian principles and ‘theology’ (only for want of a better word) within their programs. It’s a little ambiguous though, and with not a lot of accountability. I know it is my responsibility as a Christian parent to teach my child about the ways of God, and help them to understand why I believe what I believe and hope and pray that they make the right choices. I’m not trying to palm it off to someone else, but I like the idea of have our way of life backed-up in school, instead of being challenged or questioned.

The State school I have also heard good things about, from both parents of kids who go there, and friends who have done supply work there.

It’s made me really think about what is important to me in a school for my child. I myself went to a Christian school from the beginning of my schooling till the end of year four, a state school for the remainder of my primary years, and completed high school at a Christian school which I hope one day, when we move back to the Coast, I will be able to send my children to.

I liked going to a Christian school, I liked being able to talk and learn about God and things that were important to me. I grew so much in my faith at school. I like that there are stricter boundaries, greater accountability, and often higher expectations (for behaviour and academia) in private schools. I know that is a huge generalisation but I am speaking from my own experiences, both as a student and a teacher. I’m not completely naive, and I know that crap happens at Christian schools too. But my experiences in teaching on pracs at state schools where soooo different to my experience in Christian schools.

I’ve seen things happen in state schools that made my heart hurt. Eleven and twelve year old kids talking about their sexual experiences, eight and nine year olds engaged in cutting and other self-mutilation, bullying that made me sick to my stomach, language that made my ears burn, six year olds throwing furniture and other objects at their teachers, kids so full of self-entitlement that the whole rest of the class suffers and loses the opportunity to learn. I know this stuff isn’t exclusive to state schools but in my experience it is definitely more rife, and in too many cases is accepted as normal, and shrugged off because people just don’t know what to do about it. Of course as a mother I want to shield my beautiful little girl from experiences like this, and put her into an environment where she can maintain her innocence for as long as possible. But I know that not all State schools are like this, and I don’t want to write off a whole sector of education based on these negative experience, when I now that there are some really fabulous government schools out there with dedicated and incredible teachers.

Then there is the money situation. From what I understand that Catholic system is slightly cheaper than your average independent school, and of course State schooling is supposedly ‘free’ – though I’m reading more and more reports from disgruntled parents sick of paying huge levies and other fees. We don’t exactly have heaps of spare money at this time, but if I believe that sending Mayana to a private school is going to be the best decision for her, then we will make it work – to me it is an investment in my child’s future, and well worth it. But it is definitely a consideration that needs to be made.

I guess I need to go to these schools and have them tell me why I should send my child there… what makes them the best choice… I need to see for myself.

It feels like such a big decision to me, and I’m not taking it lightly. I keep going over pros and cons in my head, and I’ve been praying about it a lot. Hopefully, Peter and I will be able to make a decision, and the right decision, and soon enough that we don’t miss out on the school that we choose!

I just can’t believe that we’re at this phase of our parenting already!!


  1. Great post Zoey - I find the whole prior to school decision making process really interesting. Being a teacher I thought I would be really across sending Raya to school and then had lots of umms and aahs which threw me a little.

    With my experience as an educator class size is soo important. Locally to me private schools are not enforcing low class numbers the way public schools have too. Christian principles while important I believe are secondary to a well defined, mandatory and consistently implemented student welfare policy.

    I believe so strongly in equity of education for all and therefore will only teach in the public system.However the private system can be selective about students and parents have to be more accountable.

    It shouldn't be schools telling you why your darling should go there, it should be which school will feel lucky to have my little one and in which environment will she be nurtured to best reach her full potential. I always find speaking to students at the school can be a good indicator.

    Good luck

  2. Huge Decision. We enrolled William in Kindy this week, and the form asks which school (Prep 2014, Grade 1 2015) we are intending on sending him to, so this topic is fresh on my mind. It's hard for us because we have only a very small idea on where we will be living by then (Navy life does have it's drawbacks), but like you, I'm heavily tempted by private schooling.

    My husband was completely private-schooled and I was completely state-schooled. We are pretty much equal now as adults, but I remember seeing lots and lots of kids fall through the cracks in State Schooling. For me, the line seems to be this.

    Do I want the extra support and educational environment that a private school education provides (and we have already set aside money for both of the boys to attend private high schools), OR do we do the 'cheaper' option in state schools and use the extra money to give them life experiences- interstate and overseas holidays, extra learning opportunities on weekends, etc.

    I also know that primary school is the really formative years where the very foundations for their learning is set, so it's a really important decision.

    I guess for us as well, we also know that whatever school he starts at, he won't finish at, and we will probably experience a mix of good and bad schools along the way.

    At the end of the day, I firmly believe the biggest influence in the educational life of a student is the involvement and support of the child's parents.

    Okay, so I've rambled a little, and given you zero advice on your own situation. I know you will make the right choice in the end, coming from a place of total love for Mayana.

  3. Ooh, interesting thoughts! As you know from some of our discussions, we've already thought about this and we're leaning towards unschooling Lior. This seems to fit with our life philosophies, and where we THINK our life is headed. :-)

    I guess you just have to pray about what the right decision is for your family. Know this though - whatever decision you make, you can always change your mind! It's not like it's a name they have forever, you can always change schools!


Thank you!!


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