Public Vs Private (and then there is Catholic)

 

 

It is hard to believe that in just a few short months my first baby will be turning four. With another year disappearing fast, and the last remnants of my baby slowly morphing into a boy, it is time to start considering where this little man will be spending his waking hours for the next thirteen years. I am talking schools!

I know some of you are already freaking out. Yes, he is almost four and I am only just beginning to think about his schooling.  I know that being a teacher I should have this covered by now, but maybe this is also the reason why I have left it so late to make this important decision. Sometimes there is such a thing as having too much information.

Last week’s encounter with ‘Freak Out Mum’ has called me to action with this school business. Those with toddlers will be familiar with the ‘Freak Out Mum’. Freak Out Mum attends every ‘Mumsy’ type gathering within a 100km radius just to prove she is a good mum.  Freak out mum also takes it upon herself to initiate controversial ‘no go’ topics (or as I like to call them…arguments) such as Breast is Best, Dummies or No Dummies and Natural Births vs C-sections and my personal favourite Private school Vs Public school.

Our conversation went a little like this:

Freak Out Mum: ‘So, which school will your little one be going to?’ (translation; I have my child enrolled at a swanky, overpriced school that accepts the enrolment of a child in the womb and I would love you to ask me about this. Your thrilled reaction will also help me re-affirm that I have made the right decision here, even though I will not be able to afford to eat for the next 15 or so years. I hear the ‘no food’ diet is trendy these days anyway)

 

Me: ‘awww….yeah I’m not too sure yet, am waiting as long as I can to see which setting suits his personality’ Translation: What the hell? Actually no……what day is it? I hope I have my pants on the right way? He’s three right? Didn’t I just see him on an ultrasound?

 

I couldn’t believe my ears. Freak Out Mum was deadly serious. She had in fact attended a pre-enrolment interview for her daughter whilst still pregnant with her.

The battle of opinions on Public Versus Private schooling that followed amongst the other mums bordered on disgraceful, and the more and more unsubstantiated rubbish that I heard pouring from their mouths, the more I backed away from the conversation, Until…..

 

‘You’re a teacher, what do you think? Public or Private?’

 

‘Oh no, I hate this question…Don’t ask me’. To be honest, it would have made little difference anyway, they were a pack of wolves.Some people will go to ridiculous lengths to justify their personal choices.

From someone who has worked in the Catholic Education system for 14 years, what I wanted to say was:

Every child is unique. There is no such thing as a super school that will be a ‘best fit’ for every child in the universe. Each school setting, whether it be public or private will be able to offer a unique gift to your child’s learning. Look for their learning style and choose a school that fosters this, not one that highlights a weakness. It drives my wild when a student is diagnosed with a Learning Difficulty and the parent make the assumption that sending them to a Private / Catholic school will be the best option. This is NOT always the case. As a result of reliable state funding, government schools can often provide greater access to other professional services such as Occupational Therapists, Speech therapists and Psychologists. Some of the best Special Education Units in Queensland and South Australia are based and funded by the state governments. If my child was learning with a disability, I would most definitely be sending them to a state school.

Expensive school fees, do not necessarily equal a high quality curriculum and quality teaching methodologies. It may give a good indication as to how well resourced a school is but research indicates (Hattie, John. 2009) that it is what the ‘teacher’ does that matters most in terms of student achievement. In short- There are good teachers at every school, and yes there are also the lemons…I have certainly encountered some big, fat juicy lemons in my time. Expensive schools do however offer that ‘boys club, wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ old scholar aspect to education. They do say it is who you know not what you know that is the key to gaining that perfect opportunity.

Then there is the religious aspect. I believe you should choose a school that will support and reflect the morality and values you plan to instil in your own home. For me personally, this may mean a Catholic School for my boys because I am Catholic, and because I know I am not fighting a different agenda or set of values outside my own. However this is not to say that a religious school will be the correct setting for all children….because it will not be. As a public school student myself, I know that a Catholic School Education is not the ‘essential’ ingredient to being a ‘good’ person.

A good school is one that sets high expectations for all students, not just the ones who are academically inclined. A good school has happy teachers and happy students. A good school is inclusive. A good school is a safe school where there is zero tolerance for bullying. A good school is one helps your child fulfil their own unique potential not one set out by a standardized test. A good school can be State, Catholic, Christian or Muslim School or even a shed in the middle of the Northern Territory.

I wanted these mums to stop trying to keep up with the Jones’ and to think about what is best for their child. It is not about that fancy college sticker that you can place on the back of your 4WD like a badge of honour.

So my decision for my own little man? I enrolled him at three different schools and will figure this out later! Instead of rushing my 3 year old off to school, I want to enjoy the time I have left with him at home instead of wishing away the next year.

where do you stand, Public? Private or are you in the who really cares camp?

For those of you interested, have a look at John Hattie’s ‘Visible Learning’. This book will really change any ideas you have about improving student outcomes. Amazing Research!

5 thoughts on “Public Vs Private (and then there is Catholic)

    • Ignorant I know, but until last year I hadn’t even looked into exactly how much the school fees were at my own school, I was shocked and found myself thinking ‘ well, Jesus is a bit expensive…it may be be cheaper being atheist! ;).Great to hear some mums are sensible when it comes to school choice, Thanks fro reading:)

  1. Yes this is a hard one, I too had the dilemma of choosing which school would be suitable for our son. I chose to send him to a public primary school , as we were living in a rural area and the numbers were quite low as per teacher and student ratios. However when it came to secondary education I chose a private Lutheran school, my decision was by no way based on the religious grounds, my choices for public schooling were very limited and both had very bad reputations in regarding to bullying and also the clientele certainly had a lot to be desired. We have since moved to another state, I decided to let my son choose which school he wanted to attend this time, after doing my research we did the rounds on public and private schools and our son had an instant dislike to the private sector because of a conversation that was had with administration staff, he basic ly felt like a second class citizen after she told us to get in quickly as they would take preference over a catholic students rather than one with no denomination, he said to me what if that attitude is followed over into to the classrooms, he was thoroughly disgusted, hence chose a public school and hasn’t looked back since. This year he has managed an A and a few Bs which he has never been able to achieve before, he is happy , well adjusted and comfortable in this setting, we couldn’t wish anything better for him at this moment in time. :-)

    • Great point regarding ‘options’. Some are lucky to live in areas in which public/private and religious schools all offer great education. For some, the local public options are a no go, so they are forced into private. Interesting and valid point about being made to feel like an outsider at the catholic school…..shits me as the whole foundation to the religion is based on ‘inclusivity’. Glad he has found his feet:) Lutheran schools have always had outstanding reputations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s