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'Choosing' a public primary school (Vic)


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#1 lonestranger

Posted 28 June 2019 - 05:59 PM

We've just been rejected from our preferred state primary school as we are out of area (and they are full). I'm more unsettled than I thought I would be at the thought of our zoned public school, and want to look at some other nearby options just in case there is still time to apply.

What was your criteria for 'choosing' a school (understanding that often, as perhaps it will be in our case, there will not be a choice)?

Was it meeting the principal? An open day? A schools comparison website? Academic results? Curriculum?

I'm not sure if I'm wasting my time, or know what even constitutes a 'good school'.

FYI we live inner city Melbourne, slightly rough area!

#2 AnythingGoes

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:05 PM

It was the closest.

I figured I knew nothing about choosing a good school so we would go the most convenient and change down the track if it wasn't working out. Going well so far (yr1).

#3 AliasMater

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:08 PM

We had the choice between 2 schools, equal distance. My son has ASD and learning disabilities. I chose the school that DID NOT have a special education unit. It also had a worse reputation. I wanted full inclusion though, not a school that would fob him off to segregated 'special' spaces.

Best decision ever. He is absolutely thriving.

Edited by AliasMater, 28 June 2019 - 06:09 PM.


#4 FEdeRAL

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:18 PM

For us it was the closest too.

That was also the only non-private, non-religious where half the kinder was going. Although we may be the only family who didn’t visit the school or check the naplan results before enrolling.

#5 ERipley

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:28 PM

I’m in inner city Melbourne too, and I slightly wonder if the good school starts with “M”?

#6 lonestranger

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:31 PM

View PostERipley, on 28 June 2019 - 06:28 PM, said:

I’m in inner city Melbourne too, and I slightly wonder if the good school starts with “M”?

It doesn't! This could become a game of mastermind...

ETA but I think it might be close to it...

Edited by lonestranger, 28 June 2019 - 06:32 PM.


#7 c00l

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:45 PM

I also live in what is considered a slightly rough area. Just like you I was quite worried about our local school but at the same time I wanted to give it a go. My first child is now in yr 4 and my second  is in yr 2 and they both have thrived at this school. I was lucky in some ways as I was able to gauge the 'feel' of the school by going to our local playgroup which was held at the school's hall on Monday mornings and also the school had a two term once a week transition for the kids starting kindergarten the following year. Also, as I'm a teacher(of adults not kids)  how the teachers interacted with each other and the kids and most importantly the principal were important to me.

Our suburb has gentrified quite a bit since my first child started  but I still feel there is a good balance and mix of families. The other positive element of schools that are trying to build a better reputation and get community support is that that if they have good leadership(ie a good principal)then they are willing to try new and innovative programs(just an opinion not a fact). So really my advice is to book a meeting with the principal and have a tour of the school(not a formal open day just an ordinary school day) so you can get a feel for both the leadership and school in general .

The other really important bonus of going to your local school is you suddenly build this whole new community of friends- I'm now genuine friends with at least 5 school parents(three live on our street) and we regularly meet up with and without the kids. Given I work fulltime(so haven't spent much time at the school since they were in kindergarten) and am an introvert, I'm still quite surprised by this.

#8 Prancer is coming

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:52 PM

I went to the one closest to me and never thought about enrolling out of area.  Our school has the worst reputation out of all the schools in the area.  I got involved in the school before my kid started and it did not seem that bad (never saw any violence or kids going off!).  Barely had anything to do with the principal and from what I did see I did not like, but after numerous different ones we now have a stable one who is totally fantastic.  

All my kid’s friends live near us.  If I am in a bind or have a sick kid, I can easily find someone to pick up some of the kids for me.  Interestingly, my eldest has just started high school and I was wondering how she would go against students from these better schools.  She had an excellent report, with others from the school’s with better reputations getting D’s for the first time.  Our school does have a lower socioeconomic economic  and some difficult kids, but these don’t necessarily need to be negatives and do not impact on learning.

Edited by Prancer is coming, 28 June 2019 - 06:54 PM.


#9 ERipley

Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:57 PM

View Postlonestranger, on 28 June 2019 - 06:31 PM, said:



It doesn't! This could become a game of mastermind...

ETA but I think it might be close to it...

Oh wait... C?

#10 ERipley

Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:02 PM

Lunch time clubs, good language and music programs were all really important to me. I wanted one with a very academic focus because my son thrives on that sort of thing and there are some local schools that have a pretty questionable curriculum. School community was also really important. We’ve found somewhere that generally reflects our values and it’s much easier to fit in with the school community. I toured 5 schools and I am SO happy with the one we picked. PM me if you want to compare schools.

#11 Milly Molly Mandy

Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:03 PM

My kids go to the local primary and high schools. Never even thought of choosing a different school. The thing is it doesn’t matter how much research you do you actually have no idea how your child will go at any given school.

#12 NikiOne

Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:08 PM

I never thought I would do anything other than send our kids to our local school 300m from our house. But it's that school next to the "trial" safe injecting room (Victoria). On Wednesday they did a walkathon requiring a police presence. An hour later there was a crazy ice addict wandering around screaming on the same street. Very soon the new "improved" safe injecting room will open moving the location where users hang out from 100m away right onto the footpath 20m from the school gate. It's a bilingual school with a lot to like about it. I still have 1.5 years and hopefully things will change.

#13 kimasa

Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:46 PM

My daughter goes to what up until this year was our zoned school, but due to a new school opening this year, it no longer is.

I was spoiled for choice, there is an excessive amount of public primary schools in this area and most are open. So many factors went into the choice, and some of those will be relevant to all families, we wanted a school that valued the arts, a LOTE was preferable, closed classrooms (the new school is 100% open, it's just one huge building with different "zones" for each class), but I also used the social media of the schools to scope out attitudes, both of the school and the parents, I really liked the insight that gave me.

For the record, the school we chose is the "rough reputation" school of the area. One semester in and I'm so happy we're here, it's a great school.

Edited by kimasa, 28 June 2019 - 07:47 PM.


#14 BornToLove

Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:57 PM

We were equal distance between two primary schools so had a choice when we enrolled DD in prep (we have moved closer to the school we chose since).

They actually had their open mornings same week so went to both. They had a lot of the same features - same number of students, same LOTE language, same programming, OSHC etc. We actually were leaning towards one school over the other but open to both.

However it was a flippant remark from the principal of the school we were thinking of sending DD to that turned us off that school. It just left me feeling like she doesn’t have patience for students or the school community. Maybe it was just a bad day, but it was a dealbreaker for us (more so because it was the school’s open morning and she knew we had a perspective student, but still said it).

5.5 years later and no regrets. DD has thrived and we have really enjoyed being apart of the school. It’s very inclusive and diverse school, as time has gone on the other school has become known more for it’s lack of inclusion.

#15 Octopodes

Posted 28 June 2019 - 08:04 PM

A strong friendly inclusive community feel to the school is what I was after. DS ended up at an out of zone school which has been fantastic over his 6+ years there. Will be sad to leave for high school at the end of the year. The school doesn't have the best academic reputation, but it is very well known for its amazing teachers.

edit: We're not in Vic (NSW), but our school borders a fairly rough suburb (known for ice and d/v problems), good schools can be found in some unlikely places.

Edited by Octopodes, 28 June 2019 - 08:08 PM.


#16 Kreme

Posted 28 June 2019 - 08:08 PM

We didn’t choose, we sent our kids to the local school. It turned out not to be the right fit but realistically we could never have anticipated what our kids needed before they started school. And the out of area school we ended up choosing was not even remotely on our radar before they started. So I don’t regret doing it that way.

#17 robhat

Posted 28 June 2019 - 08:28 PM

We're in NSW but we opted for an out of zone school. Our local school had some really serious bullying issues and the school didn't seem to be dealing with them at all. My daughter was a sensitive little thing back then and I didn't want to risk her in that kind of environment.

Factors in choice...

Accessibility and ability to apply out of zone. One of the nearby schools doesn't even take out of zone so I looked at the next 2 nearest. Most of the schools beyond that were quite a drive through city traffic and I wasn't keen on that.

Of the 2 others I looked at I chose the one we went to because the principal impressed me and had the right attitude towards homework and Naplan. I also loved the grounds. I still love the grounds. The trees, grass and abundance of bird life is lovely and my kids have loved it. The school itself nurtures it, has taken care of the protected blue gum forest on it's grounds, planted more native vegetation, has a veggie patch, chickens and a bush tucker garden.

Funnily enough the school has turned out to be brilliant academically as well as having a huge focus on building resilience and confidence in kids. I couldn't have asked for better. It's all down to the principal mostly.

#18 Contrebasse

Posted 28 June 2019 - 08:50 PM

View PostNikiOne, on 28 June 2019 - 07:08 PM, said:

I never thought I would do anything other than send our kids to our local school 300m from our house. But it's that school next to the "trial" safe injecting room (Victoria). On Wednesday they did a walkathon requiring a police presence. An hour later there was a crazy ice addict wandering around screaming on the same street. Very soon the new "improved" safe injecting room will open moving the location where users hang out from 100m away right onto the footpath 20m from the school gate. It's a bilingual school with a lot to like about it. I still have 1.5 years and hopefully things will change.

My kids go to that school and it is awesome. I love seeing my daughter converse in Mandarin with random people we meet (and she is only in grade 1).

We haven’t had any issues with safety yet. (Granted, I live on the opposite side of the school to Victoria St so probably miss most of that stuff).

#19 Pooks Combusted

Posted 28 June 2019 - 08:53 PM

I agree with looking closely at the leadership. We’ve changed between two public schools 5 minutes apart and the difference is considerable, and comes down to the culture set by leadership.

#20 Abernathy

Posted 28 June 2019 - 09:54 PM

We toured lots of schools and chose the one which felt right for us. It had a few specific things we wanted (no composites and minimal open plan learning) but it was really the feel of the place and the staff that won us over. It is a couple of suburbs away and makes mornings a bit crazy but we’re very happy with the choice. None of our local schools appealed to us.

#21 Orangecake

Posted 29 June 2019 - 10:45 AM

Reputations can be deserved or not but can take a long time to change. I've seen suburb gentrification and good leadership change schools quite dramatically within a few years. However the reputation can take longer to change in the community. So it's not always a good way to judge a school.

We went off likelihood of getting into school, supportive and professional leadership team, good social/emotional development program, academics and also the amount of extra curricular activities. In our area different schools do have slightly different focus, eg music, technology, language, sport.

#22 RuntotheRiver

Posted 02 July 2019 - 04:08 PM

Reputation can be misleading.

Our principal passed away and I know there were so my rumours going around. DS, now grade 6 and DD grade 3 are doing brilliant. It comes down to your child’s effort not just the school. Reputation doesn’t mean poor teaching.

#23 jessiesgirl

Posted 02 July 2019 - 04:22 PM

The biggest factor for us was the principal.  You need to feel confident that IF a problem arises, the principal team is approachable.  I don’t look at NAPLAN at all and I don’t listen to random’s opinions.  I did ask around the teaching staff at kinder etc if they knew anything of the school.  Also checked the homework policy. I found that there really wasn’t as much “choice” around the part of Melbourne where we live, as some other people have.

#24 hellsmail

Posted 02 July 2019 - 04:34 PM

I know the principal is an important factor in choosing a school, but principal often don't stay at the one school for a long period.  I picked the local school as we could walk there and then I could catch a tram to work.  It had the best principle then the next yr he took a yr off to work in administration within the education dept, came back for a yr then left.  We then had a horror time with a new principle but due to the good community at the school was removed with in two terms, then we had a interim principle then we got a good one.  What I'm trying to say is it was the community that saved and made my kids primary school a good one, principal just help.  also the grounds were the best

#25 *Nasty*Squeekums*

Posted 02 July 2019 - 06:50 PM

We asked locals what they thought of the only school in town, none would send their kids there if they had their time over.  Our neighbor went there and won't consider it for his kids.
Bullying was the main reason, they just don't deal with it and dd wouldn't cope with that.
Do was also on the phone when the principal rang his friend, asked if he could punish him for swearing and how to do so, he was in yr 11.
Same principle also questioned why this kid came to school as he has a career at the local supermarket, read a few shifts a week stacking shelves. Ahh no love, he turns 21, he will be pushed out, like they all are.

But for all dd schools great points in the town over, we finding it can be elitist and a name gets you everywhere with staff but if something serious happens as a no one like us, we are blown off and ignored.
But the student body itself are great, the older kids help the younger ones, it's a birth to 12 school. Dd has many friends and really thrives of their lesson styles, like leaps and bounds improvement in her work.




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