If you’re a teacher, chances are that you’ve been asked in your social circle: “How do I choose a school for my child?”, or perhaps: “How do I choose THE BEST school for my child?”.
If you’re a parent, odds are you’ve put plenty of thought into selecting a school for your kids. Send them where you went? Send them to the closest school? Send them to a school with values aligned to yours? Send them somewhere with stellar testing results?
This week, celebrated teacher-turned-author Gabbie Stroud launched her newest book. In her “call it like it is” style, Gabbie writes to the mums and dads of Australia in her follow up to “Teacher”, entitled: Dear Parents.
I asked Gabbie for her advice for parents on how to choose the best school for their children. Her answer is spot on.
Full Episode Transcript:
in this special episode, I’m joined by Gabby Stroud. Gabby has a new book called Dear Parents, which addresses the mums and dads of Australia. One of the questions that comes up really often that interests me as a mum and a teacher is parents going online to ask: “How should I choose the best school for my child?”. And I usually, if I chip in, I usually say: “Go to the school and feel the vibe, see what it’s about and meet people”. But what is your recommendation for parents who are trying to choose a school? How should you base that decision?
Look, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything very much to be gained from NAPLAN or MySchool. And really if you look at MySchool, it’s a very hard, um, website to navigate and it and buys into that consumer sort of, you know, if I go here, I’m, I’m purchasing. I’m investing in the, in these kinds of results. And it’s, it’s no guarantee. I would never advise a parent to go and look at those sorts of things. I would, as you suggested Bron I would say to them, walk in to the school and talk to some parents that already have children enrolled there. Have a look at how those kids are walking out of that school. Are they smiling, are they happy? Are their teachers there giving them a high five and you know, some encouraging words. That’s the thing I always encourage parents to do is to, you know, talk to the teachers when they’re there.
And there seems to be a misconception among parents that if it’s a really young, vibrant staff that it will be a fantastic school and look, well, vibrant teachers are terrific. But I was kind of a middle career vibrant teacher and I’ve worked with very experienced, vibrant teachers who are, you know, nearing retirement. We don’t want to set up a situation where we just think, you know, young, um, young teachers have got it all going on. And, and you know, they bring certain talents and gifts to the, to the um, teaching tools. They want to want to be at a school where there’s a really good mix of experience. You know, you like to be, I’d like for my kids to be at a school where there’s teachers that have been there for quite a while. Some teachers who are new to the school, somebody young, some that are old, some that are mild, some that are female, you know, all those kinds of things that, that make a good mix of community.
But even if I could encourage parents to think a step back before that, before they go walking into schools or to think what is the outcome, what would you like your graduating child to look like? So if it’s a primary school setting, what do you want your, you know, 11,12, 13 year old to be looking like, feeling like, sounding light. Love the Y Chart. And as they come out of that school experience and the secondary again, once they’re graduating in year 10 or 12 what do you want for your child? And then you need to match your child, you know, in that way to the school because if your child is showing some musical talents or some interesting, then maybe you’re going to look for a school that caters to those kind of um, interests. So I think those sorts of things are really important conversations to have with parents and for parents to think about.
And I also think too that um, for the little ones as they’re first going into their formal years in primary school, it’s most important to have conversations with their, um, their preschool teachers or their childcare teachers because they hold a lot of knowledge about what that child needs as I transition into school. So I think it’s actually about a whole heap of conversations with people invested, um, in, in schooling and education. I think that looking at websites can only be so helpful. You know, it’s not the place you want to be getting advice on where your, beautiful little child is going to be going. I think that you’ve really hit the nail on the head when you said it’s about your individual student. You have to consider your child’s strengths, weaknesses, age, if they’re an older prep or a younger prep, um, there’s so much to consider.
It would be good if we could start the changing the narrative to that. You know, it’s about picking a school, you know, because that is just that real shopping around kind of idea. You know, it would be great if we could have a, an understanding as they do in Finland. The best school is the school that’s nearest to you. You know, that we would value all schools for all the different elements that they have. And so the choices weren’t made sort of going, well this is the best school, so I go there, but that choices were made, this is the best fit for my child’s, you know, based on, you know, what the school is all about, what my child is all about. But knowing that all schools around me, you know, are quality and offer good things. That’s right. Because there’s really passionate high quality teachers in every school in Australia. Right? So people don’t go to this job and do this job unless they have their whole heart in it. Right? You wouldn’t turn up every day. So, you know, don’t drive past a school because there’s going to be amazing teachers and talented every school. That’s right. There are incredible things happening in our schools every single day, and it’s, it’s the parent’s responsibility to go in and have a look at those things and then to think about, well, what do I want for my child? You know?
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