How to go about choosing a school

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Different schools suit different children, so it’s important to look around before you decide where to send your child.

Every child is different. And schools can also be very different – in their size, the environmental space, how they teach and the school culture. Some schools have worked a lot more with Aboriginal children and families in culturally appropriate ways. Some have worked a lot more with children with special needs.

Your child has the right to attend a mainstream school – a school that any child can go to. Depending on their disability or special needs, your child might also be able to go to one or more types of specialist school.

You might choose a school based on your child’s particular needs, and the programs that school offers. You might choose a school because it’s local, or because your child has siblings or cousins there. There are many reasons why families choose a school for their child.

Ask around and get advice

It’s a good idea to start thinking about choosing a school a year or more before your child starts.

You could ask your child’s kindergarten teacher (or their primary school teacher if they’re moving to secondary school) what kind of school they think would work for your child. If your child sees a speech therapist, physiotherapist or some other professional, you could ask what they think. It can also be helpful to ask other families or community members, or disability organisations.

Visit some schools and see for yourself

It can help to know what other people think about schools in your area. But their views might be based on old information. In the end, only you can decide what will work for your child and family.

When Aunty Faye was looking for a new secondary school for her boy, she went to visit an alternative program within a Catholic school that other people had advised her against. She wanted to make up her own mind.

It’s a good idea to look at a few different schools. Most schools have open days in April or May. Anyone can come along, and you can bring your child with you.

If you want to find out more about a school after the open day, or any time in the year, you can ring up and make a time for a yarn with the principal or vice principal. Ask them to show you around the school, and tell them about your child. Ask for examples of how they support students that have similar experiences or special needs to your child.