Big international schools are not always superior and the quality of teaching and learning is not always amplified. However, in today’s world it is fashionable to pay high prices for schooling under the long term assumption that the needs of a child will be met through large scale commercialized education.
Some schools market their facilities in the same way unprincipled carpet sellers ply their wares under the concept of ‘forget the quality feel the width’! Just because a school has 10 science rooms and 100 classrooms does not mean that they are all in use or if they are, that each classroom is not overcrowded.
Clearly parents can, and often do, pay top dollar for fashionable education but it is not always a perfect fit nor do they get the personal attention and consistency that some of the smaller schools offer.
Most parents assume incorrectly that the bigger schools are in existence for a positive reason – and that it must be because of teaching style or maybe the school is progressive or there are some special courses. It is possible, however, that this is because bigger schools are owned corporations keen on cutting costs and making money.
Like most mothers, mine taught me that, when purchasing any item, it is important to take a closer look before buying - test out the waters before you jump in and don’t pay over the odds just for a name.
Your children are the most valuable gift you have been entrusted with, so time should be spent ensuring that the school you are placing them with is both accountable for their well-being and safety as well as responsible for their education and future development.
Possibly parents should be looking for more than a pretty campus and tennis courts or being told that a school is the best but without exploring the schools core.
Many parents are now sick of excuses when it comes down to the big international schools– teachers who don’t know or can’t be bothered to learn their student’s names, duplicated grade reports for every student and ill mannered and dismissive administration.
Advice for parents comes in many forms but before you visit the school, check the website to see if it is both up-to-date and well written and contains all the information that you would require including a transparent fee structure, bus schedules, teaching faculty and a current cafeteria menu. Armed with this information visit the school, but remember however to be discerning, school websites are after all ‘advertising’ and their intention is to “sell’ the school.
Parents can hardly go wrong if during a visit you look for happy children, a welcoming knowledgeable staff, approachable administration and up-to-date website.
Check to see what happens after hours – try ringing the school one hour after it closes and see if anyone is around. This might be very important if an emergency arises. Is the school a caring community? Can parents get hold of the head teacher if they need to and does that person have an open door policy?
Does the school have a policy on homework and if so does that fit what you have in mind for your child. What does the school feel like? What do you sense at the school? Is there positive, energy? Is the atmosphere a place you want your children to be? If in doubt go with your gut instincts.
Many parents assume wrongly that selecting a private school is like shopping for a house and the more they pay, then the more they get.
Paying the highest prices doesn’t always guarantee best quality or services. Some may argue the opposite when it comes to education, where elitism, bullying and rejection can also be the price you pay.
The right school is something which you and your child have to agree on. Have that discussion with your child and shop around, spend the day or two days visiting schools.
Choosing the best school is all about finding that one special school where your child will be happy. Of course you want them to have the opportunity of getting into a good university. But the truth is that they won't get into any university unless they succeed in high school. And they won't succeed in high school unless they are respected and appreciated, enjoy the time and benefit from their experience.
Your child's happiness is not experimental and it has nothing to do with test scores and all those other unquantifiable benchmarks that we teachers like to measure. Both you and your child's happiness has everything to do with getting the fit right and that is what choosing the best school is all about.
TRIO follows Cambridge , ICSE curriculum Cambridge (CIE) and IB ( international baccalaureate )