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Choosing a school is about so much more than facilities and pass rates and choosing the right school is a big, important issue.

While academic achievements are often seen as the hallmark of a good school, a pupil will not achieve to his or her potential unless they are encouraged, believed in and supported.

Simon Crane, College Deputy Head at HeronBridge College has the following advice for parents who are in the process of choosing the right school for their child.

“Look for a school that will nurture and care for your child as a first priority, one that meets your child where they are and encourages growth of their whole selves.”

He adds, “A good school, a school worthy of your child, will have teachers that go beyond the terms of a contract of employment. They should be people who take on the education of your child as something honourable, exciting and challenging, and will strive to give of their best in growing each student in their charge.”

Crane offers the following tips when choosing a school

  • When scheduling a visit to a prospective school, ask when breaktimes are and plan your visit so that you have your feet on the ground at break.

You can tell everything about a school from break times as they give you a snapshot of the sense of community; the way pupils engage with each other and their elders.


  • Ask about the school’s support programme for the emotional wellbeing of the pupils. What systems do they have in place to provide for the pastoral care of the young people?

Don’t ask about their Matric pass rate, but rather ask them how they respond to a pupil who they see sitting alone at breaktime.


  • You need to know that the school you are handing your daughter or son to will look after them. Ask the Head how they respond to teenagers who are programmed to challenge the system. How do they ensure everyone feels welcome and included?


  • Most good schools will tell you about their academic performance and showcase their top achievers – and that is good. These pupils have done well. But what about the pupil who has improved their mark significantly or who has achieved a passing grade for the first time? Is there a pupil who needs self-confidence? What about the pupil who battles to make friends, or has a difficult home life? What about that precious child who just needs someone to believe in them?

Schools are not just about a few, they are about the many.


Consider different types of approaches to learning. Find out more about the Montessori educational model, for example.