School dilemmas

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

At the moment, Finn goes to a slightly alternative school, independent. Initially, and up until the past 12 months or so, we raved about the place. Finn went from being clingy and shy to confident and whilst still reserved, certainly more outgoing than he once was. We accredited it to the school.

Currently cynical self says it would have happened regardless of where the socialisation took place. The fees have been jumped up enormously beginning next year, to close to $8000 a year. For primary education. That is part of the problem, they keep going up, well over triple what they were when we started at the school. How we will send 2 kids there is another problem... But, to us, it has always been that education is the best investment we can make in the kids future, so we paid it.

Lately, it feels the advantage we felt we were getting from the school over public, cheaper schools is slipping, especially when you consider what we are paying for that ever diminishing gap. But even aside from the cost, there are other concerns we are having that have me seriously questioning where he ought to be going. Initially, the school was full of these amazing teachers. Really passionate, believed in the philosophies and the kids and it was inspiring. I was excited to have them in Finns life. In the last 12 months, every single one of them has moved on. The ones left I either do not know, or am indifferent to (and in a couple of cases, not a fan of at all!) This alarms me. I wish I knew why these teachers had gone. What is going on??

The staff-child ration is excellent there, that is one thing we definitely pay for. I think in a class of 22 at its most busy (some are half day kids) there are 3 teachers. When it is just the full time kids, it is 1-2 teachers for no more than a dozen kids. Awesome.

But, I am disillusioned. Many of the families have decided to part ways with the school at the last fee rise as well, they have moved on, or are doing so at the school years end. Finn came home wanting to change schools as well (I am yet to know if there is genuine basis for his request or the general fear of change and that many of the others are going).

One family suggested to me, that 8k goes a long way elsewhere, as well. A cheaper school, an annual museum membership and zoo pass, a holiday, an after school activity - all excellent additions to a school curriculum that would still add value to the education experience. That makes a fair point, but it doesn't quite convince me.

I don't know. Finn is very sensitive, anxious... doesn't deal well with things outside his comfort zone. I thought the school dealt well with that, but lately, wonder... They seem to joke about it to me (almost patronising, or eye rolling about it) and publicly have said (in front of other parents) how they had to prepare Finn for this or that change because 'that's what he needs chuckle chuckle' eyerolly. I don't really like or agree with that. It bugs me. Yes he does, but so what?

He has a change at years end, every 3 years, class changes (not every year at this school) and this is one such moment. I feel now is a good time to move if we are going to, but I don't I wish to rush it either. We have to give 12 weeks notice (or one terms, not sure which) to get our 1k "acceptance fee" back.

I have feelers out, we may go visit one or two other schools in the area and suss them out, see what the vibe is. I want to feel I have options and not stick with this if it no longer works or is not worth the sacrifices we make to be there.

It feels yucky, I am so worried if we move him it will be the wrong decision, and so worried if we don't for the same thing. I used to be so confident in that place, so sure it was right for Finn and for us, the doubts and disappointment are a surprise, and a stress. I don't really know what to do next.


Megs said...

I know you are struggling with this and it is such a huge decision to uproot him from where he is settled an dcomfortable.

But I just had to say, the paragraph about his sensitivites being mocked by the teachers infuriates me. It's a breach of trust. He trusts them implicitly to what's best for him, and you trust them to look after him and guide him while you're not there. To have them mocking his needs to others is unprofessional, uncalled for and just plain RUDE.

Queen Belicious said...

i think that, because he has requested a move, that now it the time to do it. do go research other schools, private and public. Your point about extracurricular activities is something to seriously consider as it is beneficial to all kids, and sometimes it can help a child self esteem/behaviour more than anything.

It sounds like the school is not really doing the best job for Finn anymore, or you for that matter. I'd sit down and have a talk to him about it, but yeah, as I said, if he's asked to move, then now is the perfect time.

JD said...

I WAS a teacher in a previous life, and I was going to send my small ones to our local Montessori.

For a variety of reasons similar to the ones you've listed there, we've decided against it.

And have chosen the cheaper school + more activities outside of school.

It's a huge decision, I know.

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