3 top things to consider when choosing a school

When you’re researching a school or when you go to an open day or on a tour, it can help to think about the school’s physical environment, attitude to diversity and difference and approach to additional needs and policies.

1. Physical environment
Visiting the school will give you some idea of its facilities. Take note of the things you want to talk about more if these are concerns for your child – for example, accessibility or safety.

2. Diversity and difference
Visiting the school will also give you some idea of the school community. Are the children, families and teachers from different countries and cultures? Are there children with disability already attending the school?

3. Approach and Policies
If the principal and staff have a positive approach, you’re more likely to feel confident that school staff will keep your child safe and meet his educational and social needs.

Staff with a positive approach tend to:

  • focus on abilities
  • talk directly with your child, not just through you
  • support learning at an individual level and pace
  • make time to meet with you and any other relevant professionals
  • think about creative ways to adapt the environment, curriculum or activities to ensure your child is included.

If the school currently has or has had students with disability, this can give you a sense of how the school might go about including your child. But regardless of experience, a school that welcomes your child and family, is enthusiastic and has a positive approach has a lot going for it.

All schools have a range of policies to ensure the wellbeing of students and staff and to keep the school running smoothly.

Things to look for include inclusion of particular disabilities in policies such as student welfare or learning – for example, a specific mention of dyslexia in the language policy. Or policies that emphasise valuing difference – for example, a school with an inclusive environment policy might encourage visiting speakers who have such differences.