Abbotts College, Advice Column, Education, Mainstream Education, Recently

How do I choose a high school for my child?

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  • Category Abbotts College, Advice Column, Education, Mainstream Education, Recently

Many parents find the process of finding the right school for their child rather daunting, there are, however, preliminary question they need to consider and answer in order to make an informed decision “What do I need to look for?” “What questions do I need to ask?” “How will I know a particular school is the right choice for my child?”

A few things to consider when choosing a school for you child are:

Are you looking for a private or public school? 

If you are looking for a public school, the choice of schools is largely determined by your online application and the fact that the Department of Education determines where your child will be placed based on availability and proximity to the nearest school.

If you are looking for a private school, you have a wider selection of schools to choose from, but you still need to consider a number of things when making your choice.

What are you able to afford?

In South Africa, we have thousands of private schools, with prices ranging from as little as R 2000 a month to fees scaling up to R 12 500 a month, boarding fees excluded.

It is important to choose school fees within your affordability bracket, as private schools will not keep a student if his/her account is in arrears, and you will struggle to place your child elsewhere midyear due to unpaid fees. You will possibly also face blacklisting and legal action from the school.

Is the school registered with the Provincial Department of Education and is it accredited by Umalusi, or in the process of being accredited by Umalusi?

Private schools offering the CAPs curriculum, whether writing the Department of Education (DBE) or Independent Examination Board (IEB) National Senior Certificate examinations at the end of Grade 12, must be registered with the DBE and must either be accredited by Umalusi or be in the process or being accredited.

If you are considering enrolling your child in a school that offers the Cambridge curriculum, you need to ensure that they are currently registered with Cambridge International or in the process of reregistration, if their current registration has expired.

How does the school assist parents and students in the all-important process of choosing elective subjects at the end of Grade 9?

Parents and students need guidance when it comes to choosing subjects at the end of Grade 9. Lack of knowledge may lead to incorrect subject choices, which will close certain fields of study when moving to tertiary education. Life Sciences is valuable when planning to study Medicine, but Physical Sciences is a pre-requisite, for example.

It is important to choose a school that offers guidance in the form of career expos, subject choice information sessions and interest & aptitude tests to assist both students and parents with this important decision.

Is a traditional or nontraditional school suited to my child’s needs and interests?

Students who enjoy team-sport and want to play it at school level, rather than at club level will benefit from attending a traditional school where sport is offered. It is important to check that your child’s sport is in fact offered at the prospective schools and at what level they participate, if this is important to you.

Parents and students who enjoy a more rigid school environment, where there are grooming and uniform rules that clearly guide a student’s appearance, should consider a traditional school.

Where parents and students do not see the value in strict rules that determine dress code but prefer that students determine their own sense of dress and appearance, they should consider non-traditional schools where students are not required to wear a uniform or adhere to strict hair and jewellery rules

Ascertain whether the traditional or non-traditional schools you are considering have a strong academic focus, rather than a stronger focus on sport, if your priority is academic support and success.

The main things to remember are:

  • Consider what you are looking for in a school.
  • Pre-set questions you can ask when visiting prospective schools.
  • Attend schools’ open days.
  • Start your search as early as possible.
  • If you have not started your search yet, start now.

By Mignonne Gerli – Abbotts College Pretoria-East

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