As a parent, of course you want to make sure you’re giving your child the best opportunities in life, which means providing them with a high quality education.
But given your son or daughter will spend around 2,500 days at the school you choose, you also need to find an environment where they’ll feel both stimulated and comfortable. So how do you decide what’s right for your child’s schooling?
For those who have the means, sending your child to a private school instead of a public one might seem an easy choice. On the plus side, a private school may be able to provide your son or daughter with a wider range of subjects, more extra-curricular activities and better equipment to facilitate their learning.
But is your child really reaping the benefit of the $100,000 or more that you may be forking out to send them to an elite private school? David Gillespie, author of Free Schools, argues that private schools offer no guarantee of better academic outcomes. In fact, he says that private schools only fare better in ranking systems because they’re skewed for the higher socio-economic level of their students. In other words, kids from a more privileged background are likely to do better academically regardless of where they go to school.
Public schools can also offer the advantage of being close to home and your own community. There are lots of great public schools offering best-practice education – and the money you save can help put your family in a better financial position, pay for university fees or a home deposit for your kids, or simply fund regular holidays together.
So, when it comes to choosing what is best for your child, pick the school that caters to their needs – whether public or private.
When you have more than one child, it can be tough to decide whether to send them to the same school or to different ones. In a logistical sense, it is probably easier if all your kids are travelling – or being dropped off and picked up – together.
Some research indicates that an older child’s performance at school can impact positively on the younger. This effect is even stronger when your kids attend the same school, as the younger child has an ever-present role model to aspire to.
However, if your children do go to school together, it could also hold them back from developing their own individuality – and remember, the same school may not necessarily be suited to all your children’s unique personalities and needs.
Your child’s school isn’t just about Maths, English and History. There are all kinds of ways that your son or daughter learns – whether in the playground, the library, the rugby team or the school band.
When you’re weighing up options, it’s important to think beyond the academic into what kind of learning environment you can offer your child, including the arts, sports and community engagement.
 University of Essex, Sibling spillover effects in school achievement, 2014.