How to Choose a School

Some suggestions and resources to help in the selection of the right school for your child.

It ranks as one of the most important decisions a parent will make. Which school is right for my child?

In the Independent school sector, the choice is diverse. Of the more than 200 Member Schools of Independent Schools Victoria (ISV), there are large and small, single sex and co-educational schools, with a range of fees.

Those schools follow 22 different educational, religious and philosophical approaches.

Rather than finding the ‘best’ school, it is more about the best school for your child.

Despite the media’s focus on academic achievement and school facilities, we know from ISV’s own research that they are only among many factors that parents consider.

We get an insight into that thinking through the surveys we conduct, in which parents are asked their reasons for choosing a school.

Parents are asked to choose from 22 options. Consistently, academic results and facilities are well down the list of the top 10 reasons.

So what are the most important factors? Top of the list is the school’s emphasis on sound moral values, beliefs and attitudes. The second most common reason was the parent’s belief that the school was best suited to their child’s needs.

Other factors included the atmosphere of the school, the school’s reputation, its educational philosophy and the quality of education programs.

Academic results and facilities come towards the bottom.

For parents making a choice about a school, the results will come as no surprise. Many of the factors are intangible and instinctive – what’s best for their child, and their unique personality and make-up.

To help with your search for the right school, here are a few suggestions:

Search for a School

Our Member School data base, ocated on both The Parents’ Website and the main ISV website, enables you to refine your search for a school based on filters such as location, single sex and co-educational, the years of education offered and any affiliations.

My School Website

This can be a helpful starting point for some parents, where basic statistical information about all schools is published.

School websites

A great way to conduct your own ‘virtual’ tour of a school, providing a broad outline of what the school offers.  You will be able to get an overview of educational programs and other activities.

Open Days and Tours

These are a good way to get a ‘feel’ for a school, and the kind of culture and environment that it fosters. Staff and often nominated students are available to answer any questions you might have. Many schools have designated open days, which are advertised, while others offer tours. It is also a good way to get an understanding of educational programs, emphasis on sport and the arts, activities outside the regular curriculum and student welfare programs. Seeing a school on a working school day can help, but this needs to be arranged with schools.

Other Parents

Talking to other parents with children at different schools will give you an insight into the ‘user’ experience. A personal recommendation or viewpoint can assist in making a decision about a school. Friends and family can be a tremendous resource. Bear in mind you may get differing views about the same school.

Fees and Costs

Fees vary between schools and parents should compare schools’ charges based on children’s needs and family circumstances.  Ask the schools on your shortlist for their fee schedules and any additional charges and payment terms. Many schools offer discounts for families sending more than one child to the school, for children of clergy, or refugee children. There are also scholarships that might provide part-remission of fees.

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