My son often went to school in places that were not too close to where we lived. This sadly had implications for him socially as his mates often lived a sizeable car ride away and as a single, working Mum, it wasn't always possible to make time for playing and hanging out with his mates.
In Aotearoa New Zealand we (parents) are blessed with an opportunity to choose a school for our kids. I've never really been one to buy into the 'this is the best school' argument to be honest. I tend to believe that this choice afforded to us as parents means we can take into consideration the needs and strengths of our kids and choose a school that will best suit them. For some parents this might mean that you have several kids at different schools.
All schools are great at doing what they do in very different ways. The trick is to find a school that is great at doing what you as a whānau value as being important for the education of your child(ren).
As a Māori parent I had an internal 'check list' of things I was looking for in a school. It kinda went something like this.
- Will my son like going to this school?
- Do they offer opportunities for him to engage in things he is good at and enjoys doing?
- Do I think my son will 'fit in' here (are there other Māori kids and whānau here)?
- Does this feel like a place where his cultural identity will be supported and celebrated?
- Can I get him here daily?
- How did I feel and how was I treated when I came here?
- achieve to their highest potential
- have good manners, respect, aroha and be a good person
- be proud to be Māori
- the academic needs
- the social, emotional and physical needs
- AND the cultural needs