Where Will Your Kids Go to School?…

Danelle and I were talking one day a couple of years back and realised that we had quite different plans for the education of our daughter, Ellie. In my mind she was going to the local Lesmurdie Primary School while Danelle had her attending Kalamunda Christian School.

Hmmm… obviously we thinking different things… both with good reasons.

So where are we at now?…

There are so many options for education these days and if you are concerned for where your Christian faith comes in then the options expand even more. Here’s what I see:

Homeschooling: we considered this one briefly as we like the flexibility it offers, but it does seem to bring a degree of isolation and insularity that neither of us are fond of. Homeschooling also has a slightly whacky vibe to it that leaves us uneasy! We’re seen as whacky enough with how we do church. Homeschooling would only confirm people’s worst fears!

Closed Christian School: This is a school where only kids of Christian parents can attend. Usually at least one parent must be a Christian and a regular church-goer. All staff are Christians and the culture is heavily ‘christianised’. An example would be Kingsway Christian College where I taught in 2004.

Christian School with Specific % of Non-Christians admitted: They are similar in most ways to the last category, but less prohibitive on who can come. Christian staff, Christian ethos and usually an allowance of 20-40% of non-Christian enrolments. Sometimes these emerge because they recognise that the market for closed enrolments is tiny and ultimately unsustainable. An example would be Swan Christian School or Kalamunda Christian (where Danelle was intending to send Ellie)

Christian Staff School: In these schools the staff must be ‘certified practicing Christians’ while the students can come from anywhere. The numerous Baptist colleges that have sprung up over the last 15 years are of this ilk and have proved very popular with the community as well as being accepted by the denomination. The schools have a strong Christian ethos with Bible lessons taught and no backward step for being Christian. An example would be Lake Joondalup Baptist College.

Christian Ethos School: As time goes by it seems that some of the schools that start out with an ‘only Christian staff’ approach end up morphing into a quality school but with mainly hannibal rising divx download Christian staff and a strong Christian ethos. I wonder if this is because it is difficult to find quality Christian teachers, so rather than compromise the educational standards the school accepts non-Christian people who are excellent teachers? St Stephens in Duncraig would seem to be a school of this ilk. It has an excellent reputation around the place and (as far as I know) has Christians working at the senior staff levels, but also allows non-Christian staff entry also. Enrolment is completely open, but because the school is so highly regarded there are waiting lists.

Catholic Schools: Its hard to categorise these guys as they cover such a broad span. Some are low fee paying, some are elitist. Some place a high premium on personal faith, while for others it is a relative non-issue. Ok – I’m ignorant here!

Church School: These are the prestigious private schools like Scotch College and Guildford Grammar where it would seem that high moral values are upheld, but those morals are not necessarily conveyed as Christian. These more elite schools are reknown for high quality education and huge fees. I can’t say much more than that, because, my own knowledge is limited.

Alternative Education: For those who want to buck the system and learn differently there are the Rudolph Steiner and Montessori type schools. I’m not that familiar with these either, but if I read it right it is where the more open approach to learning is favoured. These are usually small with only a couple around the city.

State School: This is your local government school where there is no focus on faith development and where anyone is welcome as staff or students.

Quite a choice!

My choice in order of preference:

1. Government school – its local, its cheap, it allows my kids to mix it up with local kids and it prepares them well for the world they live in. If my local government school was particularly ‘bad’ I may reconsider, but this is currently my preference for both primary and high school.

2. Christian Staff School – The local version is Quinns Baptist which I know very little about. Their fees seem reasonable, but even at $3000.00 for a year its still $3K more than Butler Primary. What do you gain for $3K? Better education? I’m not sure about that. A Christian influence from teachers is what you may gain and probably an environment where Christian faith is given some credence. The problem with private education is when it ceases to be local and kids need to catch buses and move out of the area to go to school. That would not be my preferred way of operating.

3. Christian Ethos School – At this point it gets to be a bit of a raffle, and a lot of my decision has to do with $$$$. Is it proven that you get a better education at St Stephens or Peter Moyes than at Clarkson High or Quinns Baptist? My jury is out on that one.

For me, the key influencing factors then are:

– ‘localness’

– quality of education

– $$$$

The only schools that would not be on my radar at all are the elite church schools and the closed enrolment Christian schools.

In 2004 I taught at Kingsway Christian College with some wonderful staff and some great kids, but I would never in a gazillion years be sending my kids to this kind of school. There are some fairly serious issues associated with this form of school not the least of which is that someonehas to decide if someone is actually a Christian or not and then if they are attending church often enough… How do you figure that one out?…

As the market for this kind of school shrinks I imagine they will eventually either open their doors and let the pagans in, or they will die out. However it seems that some people actually want a protected environment for their kids to be taught in and don’t want them hanging around non-Christian kids. I’m Can’t say I see much wisdom in that, but each to their own.

As for the elite private schools… there is simply no way I am paying those kinds of $$$ for education!

We have what seems to be a quality catholic school nearby also which I would consider sending the kids to if we chose not to go the route of state school, but in the absence of a decent reason I’ll be staying local and letting my taxes pay for my kids education.

Anyway its quite a complex topic and I am by no means an authority.

Feel free to let me know what you think and help me chew this one thru.

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