Things to consider when choosing primary schools
If you’re looking beyond your local public primary school, it helps to think about what’s important to you and your child.
To do this you can look at what schools might best suit your child’s personality, strengths, needs and interests. You can also consider how different schools:
- match your personal values and preferences
- meet your family’s practical needs
- compare on factors like size, classes, facilities, results and so on
- communicate and build relationships with families.
The questions below can help.
Most government (or public) schools have enrolment zones. This means that for your child to be able to enrol, your family must live within a certain area around the school. Out-of-zone enrolments are sometimes possible. If you’re interested in government schools outside your zone, contact them to find out whether they’re enrolling children from outside their zones.
Personal values and preferences
This is about looking at the fit between your family’s values and the school’s culture:
- Do you prefer public or private education? Are the facilities or subject choices a consideration?
- Do you want your child to attend the same school that you attended or have a different experience?
- Do you want your child to have a religious education?
- Do you need to send your child to boarding school, or are you interested in distance education or educating your child at home?
- Are you interested in a particular teaching philosophy – for example, Steiner or Montessori?
- What does your child’s preschool teacher think about which school might be the best fit for your child?
Most families need to consider practical things like how children will get to and from school:
- Do you live in the same government zone as the school you’re interested in? If not, does the school take enrolments outside this zone?
- How do things like school location, cost or difficulty of travelling to and from the school, and public transport options affect you?
- If you have other children, is it important that all your children go to the same school?
- Where are your child’s friends going to school?
- Where do most of the children from your child’s preschool go to school?
- What are your options for before-school, after-school and holiday care?
School factors: size, classes, facilities, results
It can help to compare different schools’ sizes, class arrangements, facilities, extracurricular activities, results and so on:
- Does the school offer a ‘transition to school’ program?
- Is the school small or large? What size is likely to suit your child best?
- What are the class arrangements? For example, do teachers teach in a team?
- What facilities does the school have to support your child’s learning and development – for example, a library, outdoor play areas, music programs, clubs and sporting teams?
- Has the school improved its academic results over the past few years? What about its results in other areas like the arts, sport or community engagement?
- What approach does the school take to behaviour management?
- How well does the school support children with additional needs, if your child has a disability, developmental delay, autism, chronic health condition or other need?
- What do other parents you know think about the different schools in your area? What are their experiences?
School communication and connections
Good parent-school relationships can help your child get the most out of their education:
- What opportunities are there for parent and family involvement with the school?
- How is communication between home and school managed?
- How is the school connected with the local community?
The questions above will help you identify what’s important to you and your child in a school. Once you’ve done this, you can find schools that meet your needs and enrol.