• March 07, 2016 | Cara Eggett and Dave Hala (Directors of Pastoral Care)

Choice of high school has the potential to create much anxiety for parents. This becomes evident in the Grade 6 year where parents are making the final decisions and girls and boys attend interviews at the schools of their choice. In some cases parents place unnecessary pressure on their children and set unrealistic goals during this time. The Grade 6 year is comparable to the Grade 11 year in high school, where pupils are under pressure to perform in the classroom in order to be accepted at the university of their choice.

There are a number of good high schools to which our girls and boys, traditionally, apply. Each school has a different focus and therefore a different appeal. All schools focus on developing well-rounded individuals who will cope well with the demands of the greater world. However, a talented musician, for instance, may need to look at choosing a school which meets their particular requirements. In this case, you may need to check the finer details e.g. is tuition for a variety of instruments on offer?

Perhaps the most important criteria in choosing a school is finding the best ‘fit’. Although some pupils may make this decision based on the fact that their friends will be attending the same school, this is (obviously) not necessarily the right option. One will need to look at where the child’s strengths lie and which school best suits his/her individual needs.

The girl or boy who keenly participates, but does not get selected for the competitive sports teams may find that he/she will be afforded more opportunities in a smaller school. The co-educational environment may provide the perfect platform in which these pupils may flourish.

School Open Days can often give an unrealistic view of what the school is really about and investigation as to how previous St Peter’s pupils are faring at the school would be a good idea. Another option would be to request a tour of the school during a normal school day.

Attending the ‘boarding experience’ offered at most boarding schools, will give your child some idea of what they can expect from being schooled away from home. The decision of whether or not to board is a big one as boarding does not suit everyone. In this case you would need to consider how your child has coped on the occasions when he or she has spent time away from home.  You would need to consider whether you would like to watch Saturday sports events and whether you are prepared to travel in order to support your child.

It is important to look at the leadership programmes on offer and whether you are comfortable with the disciplinary systems in place. A walk around the school and the classrooms will give a sense of the learning environment. 

The good news is that there are a number of excellent schools to choose from. Once the decision has been made and the anxiety levels have subsided, your child can get on with the day-to-day aspects of senior school.

One thing that you can be sure of, is that St Peter’s will have equipped your child very well for the high school years ahead. We have actively followed up on our ‘Old Girls & Boys’ and we are extremely gratified to hear how easily and how well they have adjusted.