Did you know that the enrolment of students in private schools has gone up to 8.3 crores in 2017-18? India has more than 1.5 million schools, a number that is increasing year after year. According to World Education Services, our country has the world’s second-largest school system. Hindustan Times states that private schools acquired 17.5 million new students in the early 2010s.
Among the options that include international, boarding and public schools, we understand your challenge to choose the ONE that is the perfect pick for your child.
You’re not the only parent with this major concern. Over the years, we’ve received 100s of questions regarding this, where parents seek expert guidance to be sure about the choice they make for their child.
With an increasing number of schools, information easily accessible online and advice from friends and family, parents like you consider the process of choosing the right school to be a daunting task.
Among lakhs of students, you want your child to get the best education from the most suitable school, so they stand out from the crowd.
Let’s begin by understanding why school is so important in your child’s life.
School: Your Child’s Second Home
Your child is the future of tomorrow. She deserves the best in everything, especially education. The place that gives her that is the school you admit her into. Educators say that the learning process of your child is instrumental in shaping her personality and the way she deals with situations of life.
School education is what lays the foundation to the kind of person your child grows up to be and the decisions she takes about her life and future.
A significant part of school education for your child is played by the curriculum. Often, parents believe that school and curriculum are the same. However, there’s a difference and we will tell you what that is!
Curriculum is an umbrella term that includes everything that your child experiences as a student. It usually refers to a planned sequence of instruction, or to a view of the student’s experiences in terms of the school’s instructional goals. On the other hand, school is the institution that executes the curriculum. Hence, school is a part of the bigger picture of curriculum.
Picking the right school involves two things – internal and external factors.
What plans do you have for your child? What career does your child want to pursue? If your child is a toddler, what career do you want them to opt for?
For instance, if you and your child have ‘study abroad’ plans, an international school is recommended. This is because an international school will offer the right amount of exposure with people from different backgrounds and culture-making your child ready for the future.
These are the questions that constitute internal factors – your expectations. Your dreams. Your plans for your child. To find answers for those questions, read our detailed and well-researched blog that’ll guide you.
Now, let’s dive deep into the external factors that play an equally essential role in your decision. Below is a 6-point checklist for you:
1. Academics & Extracurricular Activities
The introduction of the new National Education Policy 2020 has laid emphasis once again on the need for skill-based non-academic activities. Most researchers and education experts have time and again accepted the contribution of extracurricular activities in the development of children.
Above all, leadership, communication and social skills are key to a successful future. Involvement in creative activities gives your child the necessary skills and an extra edge. It fosters intuitive and intellectual skills.
As a parent, you need to understand that these activities have emerged as the most productive way to utilise the time that your child gets after their regular classes. Also, being involved in other activities gives them exposure to different creative fields that can later be prospective career opportunities.
Most schools understand the need for involving children in creative art, music, dance or sports to give them a break from the long tiring classes. However, there are a few schools that might not focus enough – as much as you and your child would like.
When you’re choosing a school, it’s important to understand your child’s interests. Pick a school that offers the right balance between academics and other interests that they can pursue. Sometimes, parents are keen on putting a major focus on academics alone. Other times, they want to give their children the time to explore varied fields.
Each curriculum also offers a different amount of focus on academics and extracurricular. Thus, depending on your priority, you can pick a school and curriculum that offers exactly what you want to give your child.
2. Student-Teacher Ratio
Would you pick a school that allows 60 students per class or one that limits the number to 20?
There are many factors that come into play in determining the quality of your child’s education, but one thing that many parents overlook is the student-teacher ratio. Each school has a different ratio.
Under the Right to Education Act, the pupil-teacher ratio for primary classes and upper primary classes are 30:1 and 35:1 respectively.
However, this changes depending on the curriculum the school offers and what they, as an institution, believe in. Some schools simply do not have the money it takes to give each child the degree of quality education they deserve.
So, you need to be mindful of the schools you’ve narrowed down: Will your child receive the kind of attention she needs from teachers?
A good ratio will ensure:
- Instruction can be tailored individually
In a classroom that has a low student to teacher ratios, teachers are able to tailor the lesson to each individual child on their level.
Students are able to receive individualised attention when teachers focus less on correcting behaviour and more on their students’ strengths and weaknesses. With more one-on-one time, students have a greater sense that their teacher cares for them.
In a small class, students are able to develop deep relationships with their peers. Instead of forming cliques, which often happens in large groups, students support each other in their learning.
- Ability to cover more topics
Small class sizes give students the ability to work diligently and expeditiously while digging deep into topics.
When you choose between schools, opt for the one that allows the teacher the liberty of giving individual attention to each one of her students. This optimises the student’s learning capabilities.
Apart from ratio, it’s also important to know the quality of the faculty in a school. As a parent, you trust schools to be constant guidance for your child when she is away from home. So, think and pick! Better experience of the teachers and constant training to stay updated is of prime importance. Does the school you’re picking guarantee that?
3. Infrastructure & Facilities
The moment you walk into a school for a visit, which we highly recommend you do, pay attention to the infrastructure of the space. How big is the school? Does it have a playground? Are the labs equipped with the latest technology and instruments? Is there an auditorium for creative arts? Are the classrooms ventilated enough?
These are the top questions that are significant in your school selection process. Additionally, school buildings, classrooms, playground, and libraries play an important role.
The infrastructure of schools should be properly planned so that it assures convenient teaching and learning. The site for educational institutions is a crucial concern as noise and temperature levels are said to affect the understanding levels in students.
Well-equipped labs help your child perform lab activities in an effective way. Additionally, a well-stocked up library gives your child a chance to explore new books and genres. All these elements give an extra boost to students for making the most out from such facilities. Assembly area and proper sanitation facilities are other infrastructural elements that speak volumes about the overall level of quality of a school.
Many international schools offer swimming pools, basketball courts and more – definitely a big add-on to your child’s education. However, every child might not be interested in swimming or basketball. If your child enjoys reading, then she needs a library!
Hence, it’s about what your child needs, apart from basic facilities that are mandatory for good quality education and school experience.
Most parents prefer sending their children to schools close to their place of residence. And, understandably so! Proximity becomes necessary from a safety perspective and to prevent your child from suffering any repeated discomfort of a long journey to and fro from the school every day.
A recent study conducted by Germany-based Education International showed that long journeys to school have a negative impact on students’ health and on their educational achievement levels. “Up until now, neither education authorities nor national governments have considered the impact of long travel hours, to and from schools, on students’ health and learning abilities. Sitting in a car or a bus for up to three hours per day is not rare, and tires a child’s body more than an adult’s,” the study said.
Source: The New Times
Long-distance travel may make your child prone to frequent headaches and exhaustion as well. Therefore, a school that is within the radius of 5-8 km from your house is a well-thought option.
On the other hand, some parents sending their children prefer boarding schools. This has its own pros and cons. While these schools offer independence and make children self-dependent, keeping them away from you can also lead to homesickness. Moreover, they also miss out on spending their growing years around family.
The question here is what are you looking for? Do you want your child to spend time at home or start adapting to the world in a boarding school?
5. Fee Structure
Every decision of our lives, including our child’s education, is related to finance. Every family has a certain budget in mind for their child’s schooling. This is the prime factor in your decision making.
Right when you make a list of schools, remember to check the fee structure and consider the ones that fall into the bracket you have in mind.
Many times, parents tend to choose a school with exuberant fees because they believe that ensures quality education. Busting that myth, just the cost factor of a school doesn’t guarantee a certain kind of experience for your child.
Yes, the facilities are better and more tech-updated in top schools. While the facilities are better, the quality of education cannot be measured just by the fee structure.
How much are you willing to spend on your child’s education will lead you to a list of schools within that range.
Different schools with different curriculum options offer a varied fee structure. Most international board schools are on the higher side, while CBSE has Kendriya Vidyalaya, among others, that cost very minimal fees.
Focus on whether you are getting full value for the money you are paying in terms of quality, safety, facilities, extra-curricular activities and the all-round development of your child.
6. Discipline & Healthy Environment
Schools become a sacred space for your child, a couple of years into their primary education. They make friends and they want to spend as much time as possible in school. Such is the impact on your child’s life.
Thus, your child needs to be in a safe space where you’re assured that they are developing the right attitude towards life, family, friends and society.
The environment with sincere and disciplined students encourages other children to follow the same disciplined pattern. As a result, your child too will be mindful of her activities. Additionally, the external conditions play an influential role in fostering your child’s overall development.
If the environmental features are appropriate, your child will face the positive impact and growth. As a parent, you should make sure that the school follows precise regulations that guarantee discipline, safety and a healthy environment that can be fruitful for your child.
School Selection: What Next?
Once you analyse the above mentioned external factors through online and offline research, it’s time for the final inspection – school visit.
No matter what’s presented to you on a website or social media, the real picture can be understood only by visiting the school. So, make a list of 5 schools after going through the external factors and schedule a visit.
Talk to the authorities and get a realistic and practical picture of how your child will be taken care of. If you can tick all the pointers given above, you are almost there!
Before you finalise, there’s one factor that you’re missing out. Curriculum!
We mentioned this earlier and we’re saying it again! What school offers is largely based on the curriculum they follow. Sometimes, a few schools offer more than one board with similar facilities. Hence, choosing a school and curriculum go hand-in-hand.
Imagine you choose a board that doesn’t align with you and your child’s dreams!
You don’t want that – you want a smooth transition from school to University and career with the best quality life for your child.
Are you wondering why curriculum plays a big role in this conversation? Because this will tell you what a school wants for its students and how they are going to achieve it. It is a series of activities and learning outcomes outlining where your child needs to go and how to get there.
The right question to ask is, “How do you know what’s the right curriculum for your child?”
We’ve done that research for you!
Time for Decision-making
Curriculum Selector is the world’s first curriculum evaluation program for parents that offers a scientifically researched roadmap to choosing the right curriculum for your child. It has been developed by Univariety with inputs from top CBSE educators, International Baccalaureate Organisation, Cambridge International, and University Faculty, among others.
You will go through the following key steps that will help you make the big decision:
1. Deep Fitment Analysis
Firstly, you will select the curriculum by defining your expectations and dreams in a structured manner. What out of the 6 factors do you prioritise? Rank them, along with other expectations and internal factors.
In addition to this, a questionnaire, designed around scenarios based on different factors, will help you collect your thoughts and reconsider decisions.
2. Expert Modules
Taking you closer to your decision, the Curriculum Selector goes a step forward in giving you expert advice through sessions by educators and professionals from the IB Board, Cambridge Board and heads of top schools.
Here’s a sample video from our product module for you!
3. Best-Fit Curriculum Recommendations & Detailed Report
From understanding your expectations as a parent to mapping them with the attributes each curriculum offers – the Best-Fit Curriculum Recommendations & Detailed Report will help you choose the right option.
4. Personalised Counselling Session
Fourthly, a one-on-one review of your expectations and the report with an expert counsellor will help you get an interpretation of your analysis.
Summing It Up
To summarise, we understand that school selection is a BIG task. But, with the right guidance and understanding of what you want for your child, the process can be less challenging and in fact, quite a lot of fun!
As we discussed above, the first step starts with understanding internal factors – what plans you have in mind for your child.
That is followed by external elements that define the school including infrastructure, teacher quality, the kind of environment it fosters for kids and more. Most importantly, you must focus on choosing the right curriculum, which forms the foundation of your child’s future.
It’s the curriculum that defines what a school offers and how they enrich your child’s life. Therefore, choosing the right school and board needs to be done together.
So, start now! Make notes. Read. Visit. Analyse. Avail Curriculum Selector and decide.
Have more questions? Ask us in the comments section below!