Having grown up attending local government schools and being big believers in public schools, we have already decided our kids will be attending some sort of local government school.
I also believe in the general idea of "good enough" and that local, close-to-home is the most important criterion for a primary school, so kids are close to friends, feel connected with their community, and are not sapped by commutes every day.
But what do you do when the local school gets "mixed reviews" to put it mildly?
How good does "good enough" have to be?
At what point does a better school outweigh the disadvantages of having to travel further and kids not having friends round the corner?
Our local school: pro's:
- ten minutes' walk away
- small, friendly
- very diverse
- nice colour uniforms which don't need ironing
- has a new principal who is making changes and concentrating on data/internet, maths, and encouraging local kids to ride bikes to school
- our neighbors' kids went there and they were happy with it (if not ecstatic)
- NAPLAN results on MySchool website seem good (so what's the problem?)
- before and after-school care the most convenient hours of the 3 schools we've seen (we will need this 2-3 days a week)
- I have heard from 3 sources now (including a teaching student who just did placement there) that it's not a very good school, grades are not good, teachers are not the best, etc.
- when we visited today it looked fine except the teachers we saw and the kids we saw in a couple of the classes didn't seem as "engaged" as we saw in other schools (but other classes we saw looked fine)
- does religious education; then again, no harm in kids having exposure to this as it's part of the culture etc - I can always undermine it from the sidelines the way our mum did for us! (thank you mum)
- small grounds - but is this such a problem?
- most of the teachers seem to have been there a long time
Unfortunately we didn't get to speak to the principal; I will do some "research" (i.e., Google searches) and see what we come up with, and see if we can make an appointment to talk with him soon.
I am also comparing our local school to two other schools we have seen which seem FANTASTIC but are further away; one of them, though still in our suburb, is a good 15 min drive away against traffic.
And of course, six years of school is a long time - a lot can and does change within individual schools over the course of six years. Teachers and principals come and go, and the national "education revolution" is bringing changes that should improve all schools.
Sigh. I did not intend to make this a difficult decision. It was always going to be "the local school".
Ah well, we shall see.