Highschool: Decision 2010

So friends ... let's launch back into the crazy world of schooling (am feeling robust today).

We're going to send our son to a public (government) high school.  In some circles (especially Christian) this is quite a talking point.  So I'm going to share the reasons why we chose the public system.  Just because I want to throw our thinking into the mix.  NOT to place judgement on other's decisions.  In talking to my friends this year about how they've made their decision about high school - it is very rarely a straightforward, easy decision.

I really want to emphasis that while schooling is an area that we are very excellent at judging one another on (experienced first hand in my earlier post), I can't see a clear right or wrong way to go on this decision.  All of us make a decision based on the information we have in front of us at the time - we can only do our best with that information.  Each of us are unique (as are our children) so the decisions we make and the reasons for them will be varied and complex - very complex in some contexts.  More complex than we often realise when looking in from the outside.

However, here's our thinking (just in case you're interested) why we think our kids will be OK in a public high school.  As you'll see, some of our thinking is quite personal and unique to our context.

  • Our kids are reasonably bright, don't appear to have learning difficulties and seem to socialise pretty well.  
  • We live in an area where we have public schools that appear to teach kids and they learn stuff.  I can't justify spending a lot of money for a service that I don't think we need in our context.
  • Even though we would get a discount at a private school (because Rowan is an Anglican minister) we still can't afford to pay the fees (plus everything else).
  • I don't want to work to just pay for school fees - at the moment I don't feel I would cope well with that pressure.
  • We don't believe that our kids will only become a Christian if they attend a private/Christian school - it is only through God's grace that they will be saved.    
We had enrolled Aidan in Leichhardt High but were thrilled for him when he got accepted into a public selective school (school for gifted/talented/well-tutored children) - it will suit him a lot.  My next child doesn't even want to go near that type of school so we're interested in our local girls' high school for her.  

Will it all go smoothly?  I completely expect not.  But what school experience does go perfectly?  Teenagers - I taught them - they are hard work and not always very nice to each other.  Whatever school you send them too.

I'll keep you posted!


alison said…
Best school ever!!

(In all seriousness though, I like this post, you have such a sensible approach to this!)
Louise said…
Thanks Jenny, I haven't visited your blog in a while and really enjoyed reading to catch up, very insightful real and sensible. Unfortunately I got a bit carried away and missed the best opportunity in the year to grocery shop - melbourne cup afternoon!
Sarah Condie said…
Jenny, you are a wise woman. My three children have all been at public schools - one selective, one all girls and one all boys and each has had a unique and happy experience. All were booked into attend private schools - different ones, but at the end, we chose public schools - each time for very different reasons.

Irrespective of where we choose to send our children to school, the bigger question remains - do we trust God with our children? Do we trust that He will use all circumstances good and bad to shape and mould them into the people the will eventually become?

God is their loving Father too - He is not a grandparent who sits mildly in the background, but hands on - moulding and shaping us wherever we are.

Your children are richly blessed to have you guys as parents. xoxo
Lucy C said…
Thankyou. That is one of the most balanced and sensible accounts of school decision making I have read.
Sandra said…
we currently have our kids at a Christian high school, a Selective Public High School and a Christian Primary School.
Are we completely happy with one system over another - no. Are we completely happy with the schools? Not at all. That is the nature of schools, and life for that matter - it is never perfect and you never get exactly what you want. We'd all be spiritual wimps if we had things that easy.
However, we have endeavoured to make the best decisions for our kids with the information that we have and the schools that we had access to.
Our eldest at the Christian High School sees and hears just as bad language and just as bad behaviour as anywhere else, and has issues with teachers (as do I at times), despite the Christian ethos of the school.
Yes, it is not straightforward at all, and we do need to trust that God has our children's best interests at heart.
And, just as teachers are not there to teach our children how to behave, Christian teachers are not there to teach our children how to be Christian or how to live as a Christian in the world- I think that is predominantly our job as parents.
And it goes both ways - I have had plenty of judgemental comments about our decisions re schools, both Christian and Selective. To anyone who has seen fit to pass comment on someone else's decision, let me say it is not helpful at all. Whichever decision you make, I think the important thing is trying to maintain communication with your child and the school and not be afraid to make a change if you think things aren't right.
Heather said…
Thanks Jenny. We are trying to make school decisions at the moment and we are finding it very difficult. It's really helpful to hear such a clear and reasonable explanation from someone else. I think we struggle most with deciding when something is bad enough that a change is necessary. We know that schools are not perfect and that other children (including ours) are not perfect either. We also want our child to grow in character and godliness, as well as knowledge. Sometimes that happens through persevering in difficulty and loving the people we are stuck with. We are trying to assess whether things have gone beyond this and become just 'bad' and thus require a complete change. It's not easy and we can't know which will work out best - either in advance or retrospectively. I am so thankful for God who is in control and loves our son.
Motherhugger said…
Jen, I'm reading a book called "The Good Mother: Contemporary Motherhoods in Australia' which contains some pieces about being a 'good mother' now means 'shopping' to 'consume education', which is considered a high risk activity.

I support public schools too, and believe that active parents can improve a school, not just for their own children but for everyone's children.

I agree that no school will be perfect - but that doesn't mean you've made the wrong decision.

The way the education system is set up here, often it is not so much a case of choosing a school, as the school choosing you.

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