Choosing a Private School

What to take into account

The following checklist is designed to help you to choose a private school:

  • Does the school have a good reputation and how long has it been established?

  • Does the school have a good academic record? What percentage of its pupils obtain examination passes and go on to higher education?

  • What does the curriculum include?

  • Which country’s curriculum is followed?

  • Which examinations are set? Are the examinations recognised overseas, particularly in your country of origin? Do they fit in with your child’s future educational plans? Ask to see a typical pupil’s timetable to check the ratio of academic to non-academic subjects.

  • Check the number of free study periods and the level of supervision.

  • How large are the classes and what’s the teacher/pupil ratio? Does the stated class size tally with the number of desks in the classrooms? Many schools provide a senior pupil to take prospective parents around the school and this can give a valuable insight into what the actual conditions are like.

  • What standard of teaching equipment is in regular use, e.g. projection and visual aids, computer hardware and types of software?

  • Is computer training available?

  • Which countries do most of the pupils come from?

  • Does religion play a part in the school?

  • Are intensive English or Arabic lessons provided for children who don’t reach the required standard. (Arabic is unlikely to be mandatory in foreign schools).

  • What language lessons are available?

  • What is the pupil turnover?

  • What are the qualification requirements for teachers? What nationalities are the majority of the teachers? Ask for a list of the teaching staff and their qualifications.

  • What is the teacher turnover? A high teacher turnover can be a bad sign and sometimes suggests poorly paid teachers and/or poor working conditions, although staff turnover in the region is rapid in many professions.

  • What kind of discipline and punishment are applied and for which offences?

  • What type of school reports are provided and how often?

  • What sports instruction and facilities are provided? Where are the facilities located?

  • What sort of school trips are organised? Are they always properly supervised?

  • Is transport to and from school provided? Is there teacher supervision on the buses?

  • What security arrangements are in place? What about the pickup of children at the end of school?

  • What medical facilities are provided? Where are the nearest clinics and hospitals?

  • What are the school terms and holidays?

  • What are the fees and when are they payable?

  • What extras must you pay for? These can include food, art supplies, sports equipment, excursions, uniforms and clothing, health and accident insurance, text books and stationery.

  • What are the withdrawal conditions, should you wish or need to remove your child? A term’s notice is usually required. You’re likely to have paid some form of financial deposit when your child begins at the school and this will cover the school in the case of withdrawal.

Having made your choice of school, you should monitor your child’s progress and listen to his views. Compare your findings with those of other parents. If something isn’t right, see if there are grounds for complaint and take action if necessary. You or your employer are paying for your child’s education and you should ensure that you’re receiving value for money.

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