Do parents need tactics to get kids into the right school?

So some parents are resorting to dubious tactics to get places in the right schools for their children.[1] This is even used to get into the right catchment government school. As a mother of 3 boys who have been public and private, I do wonder if this is necessary? We have had a taste of the private system so we have been privileged in that way. However we have also had children in primary and secondary in the government system. We found in some subjects it has been better or equivalent. So why do we do it?

Everyone wants the best for their children. Some parents are more results and studies orientated than others. At the end of the day all we want is a happy, healthy child who will grow up to be a credit to us and to themselves and be able to support themselves. We want them to learn,make friends and to not mix with “the wrong crowd”. We don’t want them getting into drugs or alchohol or crime. So why is it that the school is the one thing that is going to solve all this for us? Surely that cannot be.

In Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and in some other countries this is the new norm. Moving house, using other addresses, using specific reasons to get the government to allocate your child the school you believe is right is common. Those who can afford to will put them into the private system. Whatever it takes, parents will do it. Is it all really necessary? Is a different school with more of a certain ethnic mix, or less immigrants, or in a higher income area going to make a real difference at the end of the school life?

A child will behave as they have been brought up to behave by their parents, their families, friends of the family and grandparents. If they “click” with the teacher this is a massive advantage and if they are brought up to know right from wrong. I know from experience you can move your child to give them more homework at another school and perhaps learn to write better or concentrate more in class and listen to the teacher. At the end of the day it is up to the child to want to learn and to know that it is important not to be distracted. You have good and bad teachers in both public and private education and you have good, and badly behaved, kids in both.

There are less children with additional support needs in private schools (non-government) as many of the schools require academic testing and claim they cannot take on the support needs of a child such as this. They prefer to have top grades which help their ranking in the school league tables and yet because a child has support needs it does not mean they are not bright! They just learn another way.

Also what happens when your child gets sick? Well I can tell you now that most private schools will not support a child who becomes long term unwell and in those cases you are much better with support assistance in the government system. I’ve been there, I know. One call to the Independent Schools Commission and you don’t even have to mention the issue. They will say something to the effect “Is the problem the fact your child is unwell and can no longer be supported in the private system? Very common.”

Now that the last of my children is just about through school I am of the following opinion, be that right or wrong. I hope this helps some of you who are panacking about not having the place in the school that you wanted for your child for the current acadmic year.

Happy to school
Heading to school happy is what counts

Private schooling offers:

  1. Additonal sport and activities not available in all government schools,
  2. Correct behaviour is encouraged,
  3. Access to cadets within school,
  4. More homework sent home in general in junior school at least,
  5. Faster identification of any issues with their education due to 6.,
  6. Smaller class sizes,
  7. A mix of teaching ability.

Government schooling has:

  1. Great access for special needs assistance,
  2. Help if and when your child is unwell with their education and this is ongoing,
  3. Activities still available but parents pay outside of school for much of this,
  4. Larger class sizes but more cultural diversity, not a bad thing to have,
  5. Some identification of special needs required but harder to pinpoint quickly due to class size so needs parents assistance to identify issues and report,
  6. Usually a much shorter trip to school as it’s in the catchment and therefore mostly walking distance,
  7. A mix of teaching ability also.

So if you wanted private schooling and cannot afford it, or didn’t get in, take heart. It’s not the end of life as we know it. It could be a good thing. The grass is always greener and the reality is not always what you think it will be. I also believe that the same school is not right for every child. It very much depends on their personality and their talents, on their friends and on them liking their environment, their teachers and above all, feeling safe. If they are happy, have friends, feel safe  then they will learn. If they are not and the school does not address it? Well then that IS the time to consider a move. See tips on mumsnet. [2]

And if you want a government school and were given a place in another? It won’t necessarily be a problem. Your child may be closer to the one they have a place at, they may “click” better with the teachers and the kids, they may like the atmosphere there. At the end of the day you will never know and not knowing does not mean you are missing out. One think I HAVE learnt in all my kids school years is NEVER listen 100% to another parent on how great a school is or isn’t. The only real way to know is for your child to try it and if you never get the opportunity to try then you will not be able to confirm if what they said is right or wrong.

Make sure you watch the signals from your child, will they get up and go in happily, do they come home happy, are they coping with the work, can you get in a tutor, can you help? Remember teachers also change each year for better or for worse, and friends come and go. They move house, they move abroad. Your child is your best key to them being able to learn well and get good marks.

Good luck to everyone with children in a new school this year 🙂

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