Good Schools and Schools that are Good

It’s something I never thought I’d have to consider, but when the school we’d always attended, loved, and been completely immersed in suddenly became no longer good for us, we found ourselves looking for a new school.

Up until things went wrong, we were all happy, the kids were keen to go everyday and I sat on the PTA helping the school in anyway I could. From the outside our school was good… in fact for the most part, from the inside it was also good… As long as everything was was… Well… perfectly normal.

It wasn’t until things went spectacularly wrong did the cracks start to show. The school leadership did not have the tools, knowledge, flexibility nor, did it seem, the caring to really help us. My son went to school for a total of 6 weeks between October and August, under sever stress, and although staff were caring, the school could not help.

After attempting homeschooling and finding it wasn’t going to work for us (some people do an amazing job), we started our search for a new school.

There were of course conditions… It had to be close enough to home to attend easily, and it had to be ‘good’… or my expectation of good at the time. It was here that my education began.

Our first meeting was at a ‘good’ school. High on the league tables, good reputation, modern facilities, successful sports teams, plans for further improvement, and it was relatively close… All good! Unfortunately No. During the second meeting at this school, with everyone well versed in our situation, our anxious son sat in a room with six adults, who at one point were questioning him about his hand writing…. HAND WRITING…!!  This stood out to me, making me question the schools priorities. I left with a bad taste in my mouth, and the realisation that this school were far more interested in statistics than my son’s welfare. They didn’t really want us.

There was another school not too far away. The area isn’t as ‘nice’,  reputation not as strong, and it’s not so high on the leagues tables, but as it turns out, it is a far better school for us, and here’s why…

They have a diverse range of children at the school they are therefore very tolerant of differences.

They have shown an incredible ability to ‘think outside the box’ to help us resolve difficult situations.

They have been flexible, allowing our son to succeed in ways that work for him.

They have worked with us, and listened to us. Since day one we have felt on the same team.

They have tools and services on hand. From flash cards to a counselling service, they are geared up to help.

Choosing a school is incredibly important, and very personal. If you are in the market for a new school, or even your first school, think beyond the league tables and challenge your expectations. In terms of happiness, and meeting your child’s needs in a wholistic way not all ‘good’ schools are good for all children.

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8 thoughts on “Good Schools and Schools that are Good”

  1. Choosing the place that fits is so important. A ‘good’ school is a lot about family values. We joyfully drive out of Kew to Alphington so the boys can attend down to earth Kinder with bush kinder and constant indoor/outdoor program and no push down curriculum. Looking towards school now is definitely causing me some anxiety in trying to find the right environment.

  2. This is so true Em. Our children spend the majority of their waking hours at school. They are each individuals with different learning styles and social capacity and to find a school where this is realised is not so easy.

  3. Em, brilliant piece and so so glad things are moving in a positive direction for you all. Xx

  4. Thanks for putting this up, Emm. I loved secondary school – it was quite strict and there were bullies, but some of the teachers were great. I feel for my youngest boy at primary though; he really flourished under the male teachers he’s had. But he hasn’t really taken to any of the female ones. He’s convinced that female teachers are tougher on the boys than the girls. Some other boys in his class agree.
    It’s hard to get the teachers we want in the school that we want.. I’m glad you’ve gotten progress on this!

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