Parents have become increasingly disheartened by the public school system, and their distaste for public education has fuelled a shift for alternative educational methodologies. Interest in private schools, distance education, homeschooling, and Christian schools are increasing, and with global lockdowns becoming the norm, interest will not slow down anytime soon.
More than ever before, education is the most important decision parents can make for their children and has lasting implications on their development and future success.
In Australia today, over half a million students attend non-government schools – a total of 15% of all students. The trend towards privatisation began with introducing the National School Curriculum in 1988, a decision that allowed state governments greater autonomy in setting curriculum standards.
We delve into the pros and cons of each of the educational methodologies, teaching styles and values. We’ll look at what motivates parents to choose a particular educational method over the public school system.
Reasons parents switch their child’s school.
Teachers play a vital role in shaping our children’s lives, and the relationships our children form through daily interaction with other students is crucial in their development process. Understandably, the decision to move a child from one school to another is never an easy one, but sometimes switching to a new learning environment can be very beneficial. Factors which drive many parent’s decision to change their child’s school is often varied, such as;
- Achieve better academic results
- Improve child confidence and self-esteem
- Correct behavioural issues
- Isolate them from bad influences or bullying
- A child is unhappy at school and isn’t progressing
- The desire for a more cohesive learning environment that matches family values.
- Moving to a new home in a different area or state.
Although each of the above mentioned is a valid reason to move your child to another school, it’s also essential to consider the psychological implications for children when changing schools. At times changes can be very positive sometimes; however, change can lead to isolation and loneliness. Separation from old classmates and failing to create new friendships can be very stressful and damaging to children’s mental health.
Let’s take a look at the benefits and negatives of sending your child to a government school.
Does a public school education limit my child’s opportunities?
Public schooling is free, but it comes at a cost, and as public schools are funded through taxation, there is no guarantee your money goes directly to educating your child.
Public education is popular because it has proven to be an economic education model for educating the masses—but has it been effective?
Numerous drivers can determine the success or lack of academic performance amongst students. Parents play an important role in helping to mould children in their attitudes towards learning and others. Many children from low-income households achieve high academic performance.
Student success can be attributed to personal strength and goal setting, combined with the support received from parents and teachers throughout their primary and secondary school years. These shining examples of academic achievement prove that imperfect the public education system may be, it still can deliver results—results which, in many cases, exceed those achieved in the private education sector.
Many people believe, however, although public schools provide a good foundation for further study, they are fraught with inconsistencies in the delivery of teaching nationally. For many, the school system’s inability to deal with bullying leaves some children with long-lasting scars into their adulthood.
Bullying in Australian schools is a severe problem, with half of all young students experiencing physical violence at least once during their school years and for some endured daily. This figure rises to nearly 70% among teenagers. Bullying is not just limited to the playgrounds and schoolyards. Bullying occurs within classrooms and social media platforms — with the problem becoming so prevalent, it has become one of the primary reasons parents consider moving their children to another school.
Does private education advance my child academically?
A private school provides a structured environment with high expectations and academic rigour. Students learn how to work hard and succeed academically.
The benefits private schools over public schools;
- Private schools have more freedom than state-run schools to teach what they want to teach.
- The teacher/student ratio is usually lower in private schools with 20 students per class, which directly benefits every child.
- There are fewer distractions in private schools because there aren’t as many kids competing for attention.
For parent’s considering moving children out of government schooling, there are several things you need to consider:
- What do I know about my child?
- How much time am I willing to spend researching options?
- Do I feel comfortable asking questions and getting answers?
- Are there sufficient resources to provide my child with a quality education?
- Am I prepared to pay extra fees if necessary?
- How much time will I need to devote on an ongoing basis?
- Will my child benefit from private education?
When choosing between public and private schools, many people assume that sending your child to a private school is prohibitively expensive — this is not necessarily the case. Annual costs of private schooling vary greatly, and often, Christian schools are an affordable alternative to many private school options. Online education and distance learning options are cheaper options that provide many of the benefits of private schooling.
Far-reaching benefits of Christian education.
In Australia, whether your child attends a public or private school, your child will follow a curriculum set by the Department of Education. Your child will study secular subjects such as English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and Ethics.
For children attending Christian schools, extracurricular activities may include team sports, music groups, drama clubs and even trips abroad.
But, why parents choose a Christian education over a private or public school is primarily based on their desire for their children to be immersed in an educational experience with others who share common values and beliefs.
Even parents who are not devout Christians choose Christian schooling over the public school system based on the principles all Christians adhere to when attending these institutions. Bullying is one area not tolerated, so parents can rest assured their children are being educated and supported in a way that will help them grow emotionally, intellectually and empathetically.
Why home-schooling can deliver students greater outcomes
Many people think that homeschooled children lack discipline and motivation when compared with their counterparts attending regular schools. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Studies show that homeschooled children perform better academically than their classmates. Home-schoolers tend to outperform other types of learners when compared to traditional classroom settings.
They achieve significantly higher test scores, perform better in exams and generally score above average across multiple subjects.
Homeschooling allows families to tailor lessons around individual needs and interests. Children benefit from the flexibility of school hours, dedicated tutoring and study within a lovely, caring environment.
In Australia, homeschooling is monitored under the watchful eye of the Education Standards Authority — a process that involves extensive application and bi-annual review after approval.
Home-schooling requires a significant time commitment from parents and can be very draining on their resources and ability to work. For this reason, distance learning and online education are fast becoming the preferred choice of parents as it provides the flexibility of homeschooling without sacrificing time or employment opportunities.
Overcoming complexities of learning through Distance education.
Distance Education has become increasingly popular among Australian households who wish to educate their children without leaving their own community. Distance education stemmed from the necessity of students living in remote areas to access quality education.
Distance education has limiting factors for participants in areas where access to public schooling is available; however, greater flexibility in recent years has allowed students with broader needs the opportunity to attend.
Students who need flexibility in their education, such as sporting enthusiasts or those who cannot attend regular public schooling due to health or disability issues, find distance education a welcome solution.
The best way to find if distance education is an option for your child is to contact one of several distance education providers available in Australia.
There are two primary forms of distance education; correspondence courses and virtual classrooms. Virtual classrooms are done through live video feeds or pre-recorded videos.
One of the best attributes of distance education, like online education, is the ability for students to access course materials on-demand 24/7 and replay sessions as many times as they like. Something you can not do with face-to-face teaching.
Why are students moving to online education in droves?
Students have been flocking to online classes since the early 2000s due to increased competition from universities and colleges. However, one of the most notable shifts towards online education has been since the limitations of lockdowns brought about by COVID-19 were introduced in 2020.
Online programs offer flexible scheduling and convenient delivery modes which appeal to busy students of all ages. Online study provides students with the choice when to study, play and even pursue employment opportunities not possible during regular school hours.
Just like private education, online education is required to adhere to strict educational guidelines stipulated by the Department of Education.
Online education fees are typically the cheapest of all private education options; however, hardware requirements such as laptops, a fast internet connection, and parental monitoring need to be considered.
As you can see, there are several alternatives available for your child other than traditional governmental public schooling. There are pros and cons to each teaching method — probably one of the biggest takeaways is the value your child can harvest from their school education.
As parents, we should always look for tell-tale signs our child’s education is hampered. Bullying, peer pressure or your child’s inability to understand the material being discussed serve as critical indicators. If your child is showing any of these indicators it’s time to start exploring education options for your child.