School reviews are great but they only show us a small piece of the puzzle. Here’s why you need to look beyond the stats and beyond the data to see the real picture of what a school is like and how your child may (or may not) benefit from attending there. Read on to find out more.
School Reviews – How Do They Work?
Much is made about the collection of data (particularly NAPLAN results). The media talk about it, schools talk about it, other parents talk about it and educational websites talk about it. You’d be easily mistaken for thinking that NAPLAN data and statistics are the be all and end all when it comes to choosing the right school for your child.
What’s left out of this picture, though, is that schools aren’t faceless machines. They are real places filled with real people. In order to get a clearer picture of what a school community is like, you need to begin to look beyond what’s reported right up front.
What should I look for?
Depending on your child, your family and your beliefs, there are going to be a range of factors to consider when perusing a school review.
Does your family place great importance upon culture and the arts? What about sporting accomplishments? Are science and tech important to your child? A focus on high academic standards and accomplishments? Are you looking for a holistic model of pastoral care?
Attending a school open day is a great way to get a feel for the culture and life of a school instead of relying on the opinions of other people. You’ll take a tour, meet some students, see the facilities and see how the community interacts.
What do school reviews show me?
They can show you positive and negative things.
You’ll learn about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the schools in terms of things like co-curricular, costs, uniforms, scholarships and values. If you’re looking at NAPLAN results you’ll see some trends in how the school testing operates from year to year (keeping in mind that there’s a lot more to academia than NAPLAN!) and you’ll get a feel for some of the socio-cultural trends that make up the school population.
School reviews are sometimes the place where people take out their anger and frustration. You must keep in mind that opinions are subjective and very much formed by experience. Someone who went through a difficult time could, rightly or wrongly, take out their frustration on the school which could then in turn impact your opinion. Take recommendations (good and bad) with a grain of salt and try to make up your own mind.
The importance of school reviews and decision making
You will know what’s right for your family. To make the right decision it’s important to have ALL the information. Combine school reviews with your own research, a school tour and getting your kids involved in this important decision.
There are other things to consider when choosing the right school. Check out our article on tips for choosing a school for your daughter.
Are you curious about NAPLAN?
We’ve got some information on NAPLAN at every year level! You can find what you’re looking for below: