Schools are on recess this November and December but parents are not. This is just the beginning of another painstaking period for them.
They are on the move, driving from one school to another in quest for 2011 admissions forms for their children. Some parents are transferring their children to other schools while others are seeking fresh admissions at different entry points of primary and secondary education.
To some extent, one can predict the questions that parents and guardians are likely to ask when seeking to establish whether a school is good or not. Many ask wrong questions for the right purpose.
Questions around how much fees per year, the condition of boarding facilities and feeding are dominant. Unfortunately, the answers to the questions are not attestations of what a good school is.
What constitutes a good school? Magnificent buildings, well maintained lawns, glassy pavements and state of the art recreational facilities? The answer is yes and no.
As much as the physical infrastructure and the general outlook of a school are important, good schools are not necessarily good because of the expanse of the acreage of land that they are erected on and their buoyancy.
Research shows that the school a child attends can shape the student’s view of the world. Good performance can influence a person’s self worth- over a course of time and can be a strong predictor of future success. That is why parents have to go to great lengths to make sure their children receive quality education when selecting a school.
A Chicago journal likened the creation of a good school to baking ingredients. A good school is a lot like a cake. Put in sugar, eggs and oil but forget the flour, and you end up with a sweet sloppy mess. Without all the right ingredients, success will always evade schools.
A study entitled “What Makes a Good school?” conducted in 1994 by UCLA’s Centre for Research on Evaluation identified the qualities that set successful schools apart.
Good schools, says the study, have strong and professional administrators and teachers, a broad curriculum available to all students; a philosophy that says all students can learn, coupled with high expectations for all students; a climate that is safe, clean, caring and well organized; an ongoing assessment system that supports instruction and a high level of parent and community involvement and support.
On the contrary, many parents and the community in general are ill prepared to measure the quality of schools that serve them. As consumers of education, parents and other tax payers have a right to know which schools are doing a good job and take their children there.
The configuration of a school or the socioeconomic standard of the neighbourhood does not determine whether the school is good. There are many schools across the world that are located at the hearts of city centres and rich suburbs that are not good.
A good school, like a good class is run by someone with vision, passion and compassion. It has teachers who will enjoy the challenge, no matter their age and experience. There should be high staff attraction, motivation and significance.
Schools with high staff turnover cannot qualify to be schools. However, because they have students, they can be called student camps.
Look beyond it meets the eye and even the ear as you get a school for your child.