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Frank and Fearless on schools

PickedANickname 12 May 2008 35

Seriously, where should a parent send their pride and joy to school in Canberra? Very hard to find real information on what schools are great and what ones are not.

We are not religious (as in seriously not religious on purpose).  It leaves only a few non-Christian options. 

I know Trinity Christian School through some older children in my family and although it is a very nurturing, it is over the top religious and has, in my opinion, very low educational standards. The kid I know did about 20% of the math homework assigned and failed every test…was given a B for result and A for effort.

 The press about the state of public schools leaves you worried.  Bullying, lack of supplies, parents who don’t give a rats etc etc…..

So where should my little one enrol?  How easy is it to enrol a child closer to your work than home?  BTW Bluegum is too far. Thoughts on Forrest Primary?



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35 Responses to Frank and Fearless on schools
nyssa76 6:10 pm 12 May 08

PickANickname, ask around as word of mouth is the best test of a school’s popularity with parents.

Open Night ‘season’ is coming up and I urge you to look at all the schools in your area and speak to parents. Students on the Open Night are usually hand picked and told to say only positives about their school – which isn’t always honest.

My own children go to Govt schools (Primary and Secondary) and I am a Govt high school teacher. Yes I have been VERY selective on where I have sent my children and that is because I have either taught at their schools or know people who have.

You also didn’t stipulate what area you are in as most Govt schools won’t take ‘out of area students’ unless they need the numbers or only if the child is a ‘good egg’.

PickedANickname 7:20 pm 12 May 08

We live southside but we work central Canberra.

Do you have any specific schools to avoid?????


el 7:29 pm 12 May 08

Probably wouldn’t be too keen on Marist, after reading this article.

VicePope 7:52 pm 12 May 08

Word of mouth is probably the best option, and what follows is not current. Schools tend to change over time, as personnel and priorities alter. There are government schools that are wonderful – because they have some great staff and parents who give a damn. Any sane parent would be delighted to see his or her kids there.

And there are some that are dreadful – they become the residual choice for people who don’t know or care. Those who suffer are the kids and the (usually young) teachers who have their hearts broken. Nyssa, or someone else in the system, can probably flag this better than I could. (And I understand that Erindale College, which is generally dreadful, has a strong academic stream to leaven the sporting dross, so there’s probably variation within schools).

Impressions, outside the government system – the Grammars and Radford are pretty good. Marist is better than St Eddies or Daramalan, academically and culturally – the bad stuff is probably long gone. Merici is nicer, but St Clare’s is more competitive. Really, it depends on the kid. None of the schools I have just mentioned are dogmatically religious, and most have a fairly reasonable population who come from outside the religion of choice. I would be less likely to send an academically inclined kid to McKillop, but recognise it does a great job at nurturing most kids and helping them achieve what they can.

Some schools in all systems are hell on the middle-ability, quiet kid who sits down and shuts up and gets ignored in favour of the superstars and the budding criminals. A good test for parents is to go to a parent/teacher night and see if the kid’s teachers have any idea who he/she really is, apart from ignorable vanilla.

imhotep 8:28 pm 12 May 08

We went through this with our son last year. Trouble is, if you listen to 50 parents, you get 50 recommendations…

We ended up with Marist (against my own judgment) and I must say that now I have only good things to say about the place, the staff and the general culture of the school.

We have friends with children at Melrose High, and they are very pleased with that school, especially for bright kids.

noodle 9:35 pm 12 May 08

PickedANickhame – the comments above are right. Firstly, as Nyssa points out, most schools won’t take kids from out of area. But given you live on the southside, all of these schools are supposed to be good in that they’re all supposedly pretty academic: Forrest, Red Hill, Telopea and Garran. I’ve heard great things about all these schools, though some negatives too, so I guess it depends on the child and what you’re looking for. Grammar and Radford are excellent schools too. Can’t comment on the catholic schools, don’t know anyone there, but some of them are bound to be ok. And can’t comment on high schools as we’re not there yet!

tom-tom 9:39 pm 12 May 08

marist. best option by a mile. daylight second. radford and the grammar’s are pretty highly rated if you have the money and on the public side narrabundah is highly rated academically for good reason; but it has a poor reputation for those students who are less able. Erindale is improving at a huge rate but is yet to see the results this desreves.

grunge_hippy 9:43 pm 12 May 08

it is generally difficult to enrol your child in a govt school if you do not live in area. However, if you meet with the principal, it can be at their discretion. We have many children who do not live in area that go to our school. Unless they are full, they really cannot deny a child enrolment. Part of the whole public education act… something about not denying any child an education…

I would not recommend my school, only because it is going p-2 next year, which will be an interesting experiment…

I think it is fruitless to ask people what schools are best or not. one persons good school is another persons nightmare. If you are that concerned, go and take a visit at about 2pm… if every child is in class and not climbing the walls, wandering the corridors swearing at anyone who looks sideways at you, then chances are its a good school.

ant 10:22 pm 12 May 08

Schools change. Girls and Boys Grammar are good for a number of reasons, but there is some bullying, sadly. The Girls school only got that in recent decades. Radford was never rated academically when it was founded, but I suspect the “little brother” syndrome has seen them fighting gamely to come up. Merici also improved massively from the 80s, I’ve heard that it’s doing very well. Narrabundah was always well-rated especially for arts subjects.

minime2 11:49 pm 12 May 08

pickanick said s/he is seriously not religious on purpose, yet most posts recommended Catholic Schools. Interesting subtle definition.

captainwhorebags 8:29 am 13 May 08

Radford’s a bit far, but the First Working Family enrolled their son their. You could get invited to the Lodge for tea and scones.

captainwhorebags 8:29 am 13 May 08

(swap second their for a there)

VicePope 9:03 am 13 May 08

Minime2 (#10) – I mentioned the religious schools because I know them, and (relevant to the question) I know that they are generally less than dogmatic. Any Catholic school, for example, will probably contain a significant number of Buddhists, Jews and Muslims as well as a majority who are Catholic only by association rather than by practice. They teach with a Catholic bias, but even the religious education courses are geared to living a good life and understanding the range of faiths that people have.

I’m told the same is true of the Grammars.

Skidbladnir 9:35 am 13 May 08

Fundamental Questions:
How old is\are the child\children?
Which end of town are you in?
How far afield are you prepared to send it\them?
Do\does your child\children play sport\s, and do you want them to play for a school team?
Are you prepared to pay?
How much are you prepared to pay?
How open to dealing with other religions are you?

These are all questions which can help sort out your options.
Most RiotACTers will have opinions based on perception or experience and be willing to argue them, but these will help you sift the reasonable arguments from the boneheads.

caf 9:56 am 13 May 08

It was always said that a lot of the public school teachers in the ACT tend to send their own offspring to Radford.

PickedANickname 10:37 am 13 May 08

Believe it or not, Grammar is less expensive than the full time day care my child is in at the moment. I would however like to support a public school.

I wanted to go down the path of Telopea. Unfortunately, they are not an area intake school and your child must have a strong background in French. I did bit of research in enrolling in the Australian-French preschool for the next two years, but according to my sources many parents are taking their child(ren) out of it due to dissatisfaction 🙁 And there would be no guarantee that after spending two years there that Telopea would take our child anyways…..

What we want is a school that is academic (i.e. reading taught in Kindy…not just starting in year 1) and not overly religious. The greatest concern is that a school is so under resourced and beset by problem kids that behaviour issues are the only thing focused on in the classroom.

Location – Southside – Conder, Gordon or Banks or closer to work which would be Forrest and Narrabundah. Willing to go as far as Western Creek.

At the moment I am leaning towards approaching Forrest offering that we could be (desire to be) more involved as parents since we work in the area than what would be possible driving to our residential location. Does anyone have a set up like this?

Scary enough is that most of our friends have kids going to Trinity and I would rather eat my own arm, so I can’t get any friend to friend advice. News stories are not very delightful and I even think I heard someone mention their kid had to donate toilet paper to the school because the school didn’t have enough funds to provide toilet paper. It that common?


tylersmayhem 1:29 pm 13 May 08

In my opinion, avoid Marist and Dara by principal. As a former student of Marist (years 4 through to 12), it had it’s plus & minus points, and while I agree that it’s probably the safest time ever for kids (to avoid Kostka style interaction), the schools have clearly covered up goings on in the past. In my opinion, this is criminal.

Just think, don’t you want your boy(s) growing up knowing how to interact with the opposite sex, rather than only with the blokes. I know I do. You wouldn’t believe the number of Marist boys I’ve seen over the years (myself included at a younger age) not knowing how to be “just friends” with girls, and lacking all important maturity in that area. I also know of 2 guys I went to school with who took their own lives, under the pretence of having problems with their girlfriends (and as it seems more comes out about the dark side of these schools, who knows what else may have happened to these classmates).

A different angle for you, but there it is.

cazjs 1:51 pm 13 May 08

I work at a prechool in the Inner South and the bulk of our children go off to Forrest Primary or Red Hill Primary. I;ve heard plenty of good stories about both schools over the last five years from numerous parents, many of whom already had children at one of these schools before my students started there.
Plenty of them are also out-of-area families, some from as far afield as Murrumbateman, so they definitely take non-locals. Possibly because the population of Forrest continues to age or die… i mean, who can afford to bring up kids in that area!!! 🙂

Skidbladnir 2:38 pm 13 May 08

Tylermayhem, if Marist sons dont know how to interact with girls, its not a failing of the school, more the parents.

If you want a school to teach your kids how to socialise, either send them to boarding school or etiquette classes.

Notinterestedinyourbs 3:28 pm 13 May 08

I hate to say it but making a decision not to send your children to a school because it is religious, is very ignorant- no offence. I went to a Catholic school, and have many friends that went to government, and quite frankly there is NO real difference. It completely depends on the child. My advice would be to send them where at least some of their friends are going, thats usually how the decision is made now days anyway. Seriously relax up on the whole school issue. When it comes down to it, if a kid wants to be a doctor, they will, if a kid wants to be a f*@k up they will. As parents all you can and should do is be supportive, and responsible.

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