Schools vary a great deal, and finding the best available school setting for your child can be a challenge.
On this page:
- Video: Choosing a school
- Doing your research
- Move schools or not?
- Government school options
- Other options
In this section we outline options and issues to consider, and give tips about doing your research.
Video: Choosing a school
Some of the parents and carers interviewed for Learning Together share their experiences of choosing a school.
Doing your research
Different school settings will work for different children and young people. The experiences of families involved in this project show that it’s really worth putting time into finding the best available setting for your child – one that is most able to meet their needs.
There are likely to be a range of school choices available to your child. Start your research early, to give yourself plenty of time to weigh up the options.
It’s a good idea to visit a number of schools, to get a sense of the different environments.
- See our Tools and resources section for questions to ask when visiting a school, and planners for making transitions from kindergarten to primary, and primary to secondary school.
- Also see the section Education planning for your child for more on ensuring successful transitions.
- Choosing a school: issues to consider
- Doing your research
“I do believe it is more work choosing a mainstream school over a special development school or a school for children with physical disabilities. But I think that’s something that I was also – from Xavier’s early age – I was always very able to do. I was a single mother at the time, so my life was dedicated to ensuring that he had the best of me. And so I knew the best about his physio. We were involved with the cerebal palsy education centre. And doing that, they helped train the parent to be the physio, the speechie, the OT.
So I learned about my son. And I learned how to do that. So I wasn’t afraid of imparting knowledge on other people. When they were willing to hear it of course. It’s a fine line you walk, because I think sometimes people can feel very intimidated. But it is more work. It’s definitely more work.
But that’s also a personal choice. And sometimes you go through time when you’re all geared up and you can do it. And there’s times when you go – you know what, I’m just going to let them go with it, and choose my battles, and pick what’s really important for right now, and then we can work on something else a little bit later on.” – Christel
Move schools or not?
Sometimes families decide, after a time, that a particular school is no longer the best option for meeting their child’s needs. Here we provide some reflections from other parents and carers, to help you consider whether to change your child’s education setting.
Government school options
Victorian government policy supports your child’s right to attend their local neighbourhood school or the closest specialist school for which your child is eligible. Another option may be dual enrolment, where your child spends part of the week in a specialist setting, and part in a mainstream school. There are also some mainstream government schools that include specialist school programs and facilities.
- Mainstream government schools
- Government specialist schools and units
- Applying for government specialist schools
- Dual enrolment: issues to consider
Other options include Catholic or independent schools – mainstream or specialist – or home-based options such as distance education or home schooling.
There are also government-funded ‘re-engagement’ programs for children and young people at risk of dropping out of school, or who are not currently in any education setting. Some programs provide a long-term education option, while others provide a ‘pathway’ back into the mainstream school system, or for older students, to training or employment.
- Catholic schools
- Independent schools
- Home-based education options
- Re-engagement programs for young people not at school, or at risk of dropping out