How To Pick A Good School

A Good School – Does It Exist?

Quick Answer: Of course a good school does exist. You just have to do your due diligence to find one. This article will help parents and students find a good school in Zimbabwe.

Many schools are holding ‘Open Days’ to showcase why they are better than the competition. It’s important for both parents and when appropriate students to be well prepared to look beyond the facade schools may put on at Open Days in an effort to woo the right parent/student. An oversight could cost your child’s bright future; REMEMBER that appearances can be deceptive.

THE GOOD NEWS:

Before you read further we have good news for you. At present on www.schooldirectory.co.zw you can write a review for any of the schools listed. Just click on where it says ‘Add Your Review’ or click on the school and then to where it says ‘Reviews’. This is an unofficial way to review any school so that parents and the community at large get a chance to give their personal thoughts on any school making it easier for prospective parents to understand how present and past parents feel about the institution.

MORE GOOD NEWS:

School Directory will, starting in 2017 have an official grading system for all schools listed on the most progressive school directory in Zimbabwe www.SchoolDirectory.co.zw. Our professionals will visit each school and grade it according to criteria we are currently working on to ensure consistency and fairness across all regions. Some time in early 2017, each school will have the present open grading/review system plus the official grading as performed by our professionals for the schools that request the official review by our audit professionals.

Important Message To All Parents Before You Begin:

Careful planning is an absolute must when choosing a school for your child. Most parents want a school that will make the educational experience for their children most rewarding.

Some Great Tips For Parents:

The following series of questions are designed to help parents perform due diligence in choosing a good school for their child’s education. You don’t have to go through every questions but it is worth your while to familiarize yourself with these tips and better yet print them out and take notes as you go through the process of choosing a good school for your child’s education.

  • Write down the 5 most important things to you – As you go through the below tips you may find yourself adjusting these 5 things. That’s fine because the goal is to find the most appropriate school for your child.

 

  • Consider your child and your family
    • What would you like a school to do for your child?
    • Does your child have special education needs?
    • Does your child need a more structured environment?
    • Does your child need more challenging work?
    • Does your child need more individual attention?
    • Does your child generally need extra help or more time to complete an assignment?
    • Does your child have any special learning needs?
    • Does your child need an environment that fosters creativity?
    • Does your child need an English language acquisition program?
    • Does your child learn best by seeing how things work?
    • Does your child learn best by reading about how something works?
    • Does your child learn best by listening?
    • Does your child like to participate in discussions?
    • Does your child like to learn through physical activity?
    • Is your child logical or mathematical?
    • Is your child musical or artistic?
    • Does your child like to learn in groups?
    • Does your child like to work alone?
  • Consider the location of the school
    • Do you want your child to go to a school within walking distance of your home?
    • Can your child’s talents be nurtured outside your neighborhood?
    • How far are you willing to have your child travel to school by bus or public transport?
    • How far are you willing to drive your child to school?
    • Does your child want to be in a school with his or her friends?
    • Do you want your child to go to a school near your after school care? Near where you work? Near a close relative?
    • Does your child have any special transportation needs that must be considered in choosing a school?

 

  • Gather Information About Schools
    • Curriculum
      • Does the school have a strong program of core academic subjects such as English, history, mathematics, science, arts, and foreign languages?

      • What courses does the school offer in addition to the core subjects?

      • What evidence is there that the school is effectively teaching students to read?

      • Does the school have a special focus or theme for the curriculum?

      • Does the school offer challenging courses such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and high school honors courses?

      • Does the school provide enrichment opportunities for all students? For gifted students?

      • Does the school have extracurricular activities that support what is taught in the classroom?

      • Is there an effective English language acquisition program for children who need it?

      • If your child has special learning needs, does the school have a curriculum and the necessary support to appropriately accommodate those needs?

    • Approach to Learning
      • Does the school have a particular approach to teaching and learning (e.g., group projects, individual performance, frequent testing)?

      • If yes, do you think your child will enjoy and learn from this approach?

      • Does the school do all it can to make sure each child learns?

      • Does it provide opportunities for children to get extra help when they need it?

      • Is the school staff able to communicate in the language that your child understands?

      • Are children with limited English language skills, learning disabilities, or other special needs learning and performing well on tests?

      • What is the homework policy? Does it match your expectations for how much homework your child should do?

      • Do you want your child to go to a singlesex (all-boy or all-girl) school, or a coeducational school?

      • How large are the classes?

    • Academic Performance
      • How do the school’s test scores compare to those of other schools?

      • In the past few years, have test scores risen or declined?

      • How does the school explain the rise or decline?

      • How well have children similar to yours performed on these tests?

      • How do students moving on to the next level of schooling perform in their new schools?

      • How many students leave the school before completing the last grade?

      • What special achievements or recognition has the school received?

    • Behavior Policy
      • What does the school do to help develop character and citizenship in students?

      • What is the discipline policy?

      • How does the school handle students who misbehave?

      • Are teachers fair in their responses to students?

      • Does the school have a program and support to prevent and address behavior problems?

      • Are students allowed to leave school by themselves?

      • What measures has the school taken to ensure safety?

      • What security measures are in place?

      • What is the policy on school absences?

      • How does the school encourage daily attendance?

      • Do school personnel call parents when students are absent?

      • Does the school have a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program?

      • Does the school have a dress code?

      • Do students wear uniforms?

    • Safety
      • Is the school safe?

      • How does the school prevent and handle problems with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco?

      • How does the school prevent and handle violence, bullying, harassment, and other forms of abusive behavior?

      • What measures does the school take to ensure safety? What security measures are in place?

      • What is the school’s relationship with the local police?

      • Is there a police officer on duty during school hours and for extracurricular activities?

      • What information is available on serious crime in the school?

      • What information is available on students bringing weapons to school?

      • Does the school have an emergency plan for local and national emergencies?

      • What does the school do to ensure that parents and all school administrators know the emergency plan?

      • Are there periodic drills?

      • How does the school notify parents about emergency closings?

      • How does the school communicate with parents in other languages?

    • Special Offerings
      • What extracurricular activities does the school offer after school or on weekends?

      • Do all students have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities?

      • What interscholastic activities are available to students?

      • What intramural activities are available to students?

      • What activities receive the most attention and resources?

      • Are there school and student publications?

      • Does the school sponsor field trips?

        Are they available to all students?

      • Are publications for parents available in other languages besides english?

    • Facilities and Services
      • Is there a well-stocked library where students can check out books and do research?

      • Are reading materials available in other languages?

      • Is time provided in the day for students to go to the library?

      • Do students have access to computers and to the Internet in the classroom and library?

      • Is use of the Internet monitored?

      • Is there an auditorium or a large room for school assemblies?

      • Is a school nurse on duty daily?

      • Is there a cafeteria, and does the school offer a nutritionally well-balanced lunch program? Breakfast program?

      • Is supervised before- and afterschool care offered?

      • Are there tutoring programs?

      • Are counseling services available to students?

      • Is the school accessible to children with mobility limitations?

    • Admissions Procedures for Public Schools of Choice and Private Schools
      • Is there an application process?

      • What is the application deadline?

      • Is anything else required in the application (test scores, interview, recommendations, application fees, etc.)?

      • Are test scores required for admission?

      • What are the ranges of scores for admitted students?

      • Do admissions requirements include a portfolio, an audition or statement of interest?

      • Are there any other admissions requirements?

      • Are admissions requirements published in languages other than English?

    • Additional Questions About Private Schools
      • What is the tuition?

      • Is there a payment plan?

      • Is there a sliding scale for tuition, based on parish, church affiliation, or family income?

      • What are the other fees and expenses (room and board, uniforms, books, transportation, lab and computer fees, activity fees)?

      • What scholarships and loans are available?

      • Are students or their parents required to be of a particular faith?

      • Does the school have a policy on student participation in religious instruction and worship?

      • Does the school close for religious and public holidays?

      • Does the school have the same schedule as the local public school?

    • Additional Questions About Home Schools
      • Have you identified curriculum materials for your child, and how much they will cost?

      • Is there a suitable place for your child’s study and instruction?

      • Do you, your spouse, or another homeschooling parent have adequate free time to be available to your homeschooling

        child?

      • Do other families in your area home-school their children?

      • Is there a support group of home-scholars near you?

      • If you are interested in some outside instructional support, have you checked your local library, parks department, scouting

        organizations, public and private schools, and similar resources?

      • Have you searched the Web for resources on instruction, legal issues, support groups, and other matters?

      • Have you identified other resources you will need?

 

  • Visit & Observe Schools
    • Culture
      • Is the school secretary helpful and friendly?
      • Is the school orderly and neat?
      • What do the bulletin boards look like?
      • How is student work displayed?
      • How does the school communicate with students and parents (weekly/monthly newsletter, e-mail, Web site)?
      • Do the students appear to be courteous, happy, and disciplined?
      • Is there a welcoming attitude toward all parents?
      • How are the students with diverse learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency) treated?
      • Do the teachers appear to be helpful and friendly?
    • Principal
      • What is the principal’s philosophy about education?
      • What is the principal’s attitude toward discipline?
      • In what extracurricular activities is the principal most interested?
      • What is the principal’s reputation in the community?
      • Is the principal usually at the school and available to talk to parents?
      • Does the principal get to know the students?
      • How often does the principal observe teachers?
      • What does the school do to keep good teachers and improve teacher performance?
      • How does the principal respond to parental concerns/complaints?
      • What is the principal’s attitude toward students with diverse learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency)?
      • According to the principal, what are the school’s strengths?
      • According to the principal, what are the school’s weaknesses?
      • According to the principal, where can the school improve?
    • Teachers
      • How do teachers grade student work?
      • Do teachers have high expectations for all students to achieve to high academic standards?
      • How do teachers inform students of their expectations?
      • Do teachers share the course content and objectives with parents?
      • When and how frequently are teachers available for parent conferences?
      • Do teachers assign homework? Is it rigorous? Frequent? Sufficient?
      • Are the teachers highly qualified to teach in their subject areas (do they know the subjects they are teaching)?
      • Do teachers have the skills and knowledge to address students with special learning needs?
      • Are specialized staff available to address the special learning needs of a child (e.g., speech therapist, psychologist or aides)?
      • Do the teachers know the individual students in their classes?
      • Are teachers willing to provide extra help to students?
      • What is the school’s policy regarding teacher response to parent inquiries?
      • Do teachers have Web sites with class notes and other information for students and parents?
    • Students
      • What is the attendance rate for students?
      • What do students say about the principal?
      • What do students say about the teachers?
      • Do the students have school spirit?
      • What do students say about homework?
      • Do students participate in and enjoy field trips?
      • Do students feel safe and secure at the school?
      • What do student publications say?
      • What else do students say about the school?
    • Parent and Community Involvement
      • How does the school encourage parental involvement?
      • What are the ways parents can get involved?
      • Are parents encouraged to volunteer?
      • Does the school have an active parent-teacher organization?
      • Does the school hold meetings and events at times when parents can attend?
      • How well attended are back-to-school nights by parents?
      • Are families expected to be involved with homework?
      • How frequently does the school communicate with parents?
      • Are community leaders involved with the school?
      • Does the school partner with local businesses and organizations?
      • Are parents involved in the development of school policies?
    • Reputation
      • How is the school regarded in the community?
      • How is the school viewed by other parents?
      • Is the school respected by other schools, particularly those that receive its students (when they move to the next level)?
      • Has the school won any awards?
      • Do people move to the community to go to the school?
      • What do the graduates of the school say?
      • Have graduates from the school made significant contributions to the community and their field of choice?

 

These may seem like a lot of questions but it is imperative that parents are well equipped to choose a good school for their children. You know your child best and so it’s important that you have the tools necessary to more effectively advise your child in choosing a good school to attend. Start Early & Cover All the Steps Begin the process of choosing a school as early as possible. Find out as soon as possible about the deadlines for applying to the schools you are considering. Note that some schools require applications much earlier than others.

Your child will benefit tremendously from your active concern and involvement with his or her education. By collecting information, talking to other parents, visiting schools, and exercising your right to choose, you can now take the lead in making sure your son or daughter gets the best possible education. However, this is only the beginning. By staying involved in your child’s education, encouraging
your child to work hard, and providing additional opportunities to learn at home and in the community, you can help your child go further still. Remember it is your right, as well as your responsibility, to seek the very best education for your son or daughter. With this attitude we can certainly progress our children that are the bright future of Zimbabwe.

We hope you have enjoyed this read and feel free to share on social platforms with others so that we can have more parents aware of this vital knowledge.

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Dominic Muntanga
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Dominic Muntanga

This is a very comprehensive list with good criteria for choosing a school. My only challenge is that for the average parent, this becomes too much information to sift through. How does a parent prioritize priorities? In other words, what makes the greatest difference for a learner?

jay
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jay

Very detailed report but good as well but for me i beleive our schooling is Zimbabwe is off the chain, its up to the student if they want to excel or not. U can put your child in the most expensive school and the child is a terror. We must… Read more »