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Jodie
xox

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

School Daze...


The whole process of finding a school for your child is not easy. At all. In fact, it can be quite a gut-wrenching ordeal!

But not for the reasons you might think. I mean, yes, it is quite stressful going through the whole schooling process. It starts early. I recall sitting in my mother’s group, my 7yr old only 8 weeks old at the time, and one of the mums asking, “So, which school has everyone put their child’s name down at?” What? We hadn’t even given schools a single thought at that stage. And in fact, didn’t start the process of listing our boys’ names down anywhere until years later.

And especially when you’re not native to the city you’re living in; it’s hard to know which school to choose. Which school is best for him? And then after a while, once you start the process, you start thinking: will he even be able to get in to the school of our choice? Already, we’re at a disadvantage with many of the schools here. Many give preference to sons of “Old Boys” (fathers who attended school there) or siblings (brothers of boys already there). We’re from Perth. Our schooling was in Perth. And the 7yr old is our first son. And places are limited. At one school last year, only 1 new family (from what I’ve been told) got a place for Year 3 this year. All the other places were given to siblings or sons of Old Boys. This year, that same school has approximately 90 applicants for Year 4 next year. Only 20 will be offered a spot. That’s not great odds. It’s not bad, but it's certainly not great either.

And I have some good stories that would make your hair curl about just how far some parents will go to secure a spot for their kids at the school of their choice. We know one parent who offered a big “donation” to a school to secure a spot for his child (it was not accepted), and parents we suspect baptised their child a certain religion (not their own) so they could get their child in to a school of the same religion. (Why else would they do that?) One woman I worked with once wouldn’t even attend other children’s baptisms, because she so wholly does not believe in God (her choice), and therefore, doesn't agree with the process of baptising a child. She planned to send her son to church on weekends so that she could ask the priest for a reference when applying to a well-known prestigious Anglican boys’ school. (I was appalled to say the least.) There are parents who have their primary school-aged kids tutored on a regular basis; often for years, to help increase their chances of passing entrance examinations. That's definitely not for us. My concern is: what happens when the child gets in, and he/she can’t keep up?

But even with all that in mind, it’s not whether the 7yr old gets in to the school of our choice or not that’s bothering me. It’s not like he’ll be without a school. He won’t. There are plenty of great schools around, and you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, and I don’t know anyone that does. It’s more about how he feels about the possibility of not getting in to the school of his choice. His decision about which school he likes is based on a) how many of his friends currently go there or plan to go there; and b) because he's been there a couple of times and feels comfortable there. It's what he knows.

Nope. Choosing a school is not fun. It’s not easy. If fact, the whole process sucks. But for me, it’s more about my kids. Yes, I want them to have the opportunity to receive an education at a good school. I want that school to reflect our own sense of morals and values we teach at home. But most of all, I just want my kids to be happy. To be given a great start to life, but to have fun in the process. They must have fun. It'll all work out in the end.

Jodie

18 comments:

Bern said...

That's the thing, when we were kids, we just rocked up to school on the day it was meant to start, got our uniforms and off we went. I went to the same primary school and if there was a problem, I doubt mum would even dreamed of ripping me out. Different times I spose. It's all a bit of a wank really I think. Oh my child goes to so an so. I know full well, we couldn't afford to have all three at the expensive private schools here on the GC. Sure, you pay the fees, then come all the added extras. I've got a friend who pays over $25,000 a year to send her kids to schools here and then pays for tutoring on top of that. I would be SPEWING if my kids still required tutoring after I paid that in fees.

I guess at the end of the day, it's what's best for your kids. :) Great post.

miss carly said...

like you i dont know any sydney schools. none of the awesomely {supposedly} good ones. the one i am prac'in at. i love. i was there when i first started the degree. and my boyfriend went there as a child. i dont think i would put my children {when i have them} into private schooling. i went to public and honestly dont see the difference. but i grew up in forster. and honestly cannot think of one private school in forster {in chatham there is one - which is taree area}. but i guess it will just depend when i do have children and what childcare they are in, where their friends go, where we live, etc.

thats if we dont move back to forster for their education...

MegsyJ said...

I can relate to the mothers group thing - a few months ago (when our babies were turning one), one mother brought up that whole school thing. I was so freaked out by that. I mean, I know nothing about what my daughter will be like by the time she's ready for school, so I wouldn't know what to look for!

Good luck xo

Thea Smith said...

I totally understand what you're saying.
I'm just glad we live in a small town, that cut the choices right down!
It's moving that worries me. Not that we have plans for that this minute but we may in the next few years...moving schools scares me!

Kylie L said...

I hear what you're saying... my kids attend a Catholic school, purely b/c it is 4 doors away and a lovely community. My son is in grade 5 now, so the secondary school applications have begun... my husband and I were told that if we wanted him to go on to the Catholic secondary with his mates, not only would we have to have him baptised a Catholic (he was done as an Anglican) we would also both have to convert oureslves! I'll go to some lengths, but that's just toooo far...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the mother's group thing is mind-boggling, isn't it? As far as I am concerned, there doesn't need to be any decision or anguish or waiting. I got high marks right through school and - gasp - I went to a local public school. Snob value is of no importance to me, so I'll be sending my kids to a public school when the time comes.

LizK_is said...

We don't have many choices where we live now but when I first started out as a Mother I was in Melbourne and husband & I were both schooled at private schools so were quite happy to consider them for our children. Husband applied for a place for our son at a couple of the 'good' boys colleges. I can't say I was happy about it because as far as I'm concerned you choose the school that suits your child not choose a school because of it's reputation or old boys network. However, because so many are determined their child will attend the 'right' school you often can't get your child into the school that's right for them.

I didn't get any pressure about school choices here, mainly because there are so few I think but I did get a huge amount of pressure about when to start my daughter at school. There are always parents who will pressure other parents to keep up with them and I think it's sad.

My children now are both at Catholic schools. I chose both schools because they were what I felt were the best choices for my children not because they're private schools or Catholic schools although both my children are Catholic by my daughter's choice and I was raised as one (I don't practice). AS a result I had no trouble getting them into the schools I chose for them but neither school has a strict policy of only accepting Catholics, only that Catholics get a place first, then siblings of existing students etc so they could well have got places at them anyway.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Same with me, Bern. I think I'm much more involved with how my kids are doing at school than what my parents were. I can't tell if it was a generational thing (they're now in their 80s), or just how it was at the time. But then, my MIL always seem to keep on top of that stuff.

And yes - I just don't get the whole tutoring thing at ALL! What's the point? It may work against them in the future, and in fact, have heard that's the case with some kids.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

I think you're right - it depends where you are. I wouldn't like to send my boys to the local public high school, but I know of other public high schools in the surrounding areas that do really well academically.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

I was freaked out at the time too! I thought: 'have I left it too late?!' Some schools it matters, some it doesn't. Depends on school.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

I went to the one primary school, and the 1 high school. It freaks me out the idea of changing my kids. Hubby moved to many. I think change can be good though, and kids are very adaptable.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

That's bizarre over the baptism thing. I became a Catholic in 1996. Not because I was getting married and not because I had kids and wanted to get them in to a Catholic school, but I wanted to become one. Because I'd been baptised in an Anglican church, I didn't need to be baptised again!

Some Catholic churches are more strict about this sort of stuff - as are schools.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Fair enough too!

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

I think that's right. You have to choose a school that suits your child. And although I'd prefer that all my 3 boys go to the same school, it's not an impossibility that they could attend different ones that suit their personalities and abilities.

Michelle said...

I live in a very transient (is that the right word??) community so any waiting lists at schools is never really a problem.
Although my schools of preference... it's all too hard ... another reason why we homeschool at the moment!

mrsblogalot said...

I like the way you think Jodie! It's not easy is it?

We want the very best for our kids and have to become hoop jumping experts to get it for them.

But that's ok, I'm a good jumper (-: for them (-:

LizK_is said...

Having them at one school would certainly be easier and fingers crossed that happens for you :) I was lucky in that my daughter started at the secondary college that is up the street form the school I chose for my son. She went to a much bigger primary school that was great for her but could have been a disaster for my son. This is the closest I'll get to having them at the same school even if I had sent him to the same primary school as she went to, they're too many years apart :(

Aussie-waffler said...

I just thank my lucky stars that we fell in love with an area that happens to have a public school with an excellent reputation. So far both the kids seem pretty happy and are doing well, *phew*.