Given Australia now has our first red-headed female Prime Minister in Julia Gillard, I’ve taken a bit of inspiration from our new PM and decided to focus on education today.  You see, we’ve started thinking about where Birdy might go to school and it’s really quite a big decision.

 We’ll probably just send her to the local public school for primary and then maybe to a Christian private school for high school.  I went to an Anglican school and it actually had a big impact on my faith.  But my husband went to every kind of school known to man (Christian, public, Catholic, he even did correspondence from a caravan for a year) I think he went to 11 schools in total, so I’m certainly hoping for a bit more stability than that for Birdy!

Of course every parent hopes their child will do well academically, but I actually don’t want my daughter to go to a school that gets the most brilliant results.  I’ve known a number of people who went through their entire school life feeling dumb, because they were in the bottom half of their class, but they actually went on to get over 90 in the HSC.  In a really selective school, even very bright kids can mistakenly spend six years of their life feeling like the slow one.  Which isn’t great for the self-esteem. If you’ve spent your entire formative teenage years feeling inadequate it’s very hard to re-program yourself later.  So I wouldn’t consider one of the most elite schools unless I happened to have an extremely gifted and talented child.

Now that I have a bit of distance from my own school days, I actually think that the friendships you make are the most important aspect of school life.  That’s what forms your character, that’s what determines the kind of person you become, and with that in mind I think that proximity is quite important (except of course for those who live in isolated areas where its not really an option).  If you want your child to form strong friendships and have a sense of belonging and community and to get involved in the life of their school, then traveling an hour and a half on the bus is probably not conducive to that.   So for me a big priority is going to be that it’s relatively local and we can all get involved in the school community.  That’s probably just as important as whether it’s private, public, Christian, Catholic, selective, co-ed or whatever.

What did you look for when choosing a school for your kids?  What did you love/hate about your own education?  Are you in favour of  private or public education?  Have you had to choose different schools to suit different children?  What would you do differently and what have you learned along the way?