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Choosing Schools

expat life expat mums expat parenting expat parenting abroad Oct 08, 2019

One of the most difficult aspects of moving is choosing the right school for your kids. 


When we learned that we were moving to Auckland, New Zealand, the first thing I started researching was the schooling options for our girls.


I did a lot of online reading about different types of school options available, from public to private, from primary to full service. The options are endless. But of course, in a city like Auckland, you have to choose the school before you can decide where you want to live (commute times are crazy and many schools are zoned, you can only attend if you live on the right street). 


And so our research began. I found reports on how the schools perform academically (gauged by their university entrance statistics). I found reports on the decile of the schools, which reflect the economic and social background of the families that attend. I found reports that discussed the merits of single sex education versus co-education. You name it, it’s available. 


The most important research I did was to ask friends who have daughters which schools they attend? How did they choose that school? What factors influenced their decision? What other schools did they consider, and why didn’t they choose them?


After all this research I was armed with a short list of just a few schools. Ultimately we have decided to send the girls to a private school. The decision was based largely on the fact that New Zealand operates a primary, intermediate, secondary system. If we went down the public route and enrolled the girls in primary school, we would then have to move them in two years to a new school. 


Our girls, as you are probably aware, have moved every two years since they started school. It is unsettling, and saying goodbye so frequently has become a little tedious for them. We decided this is an opportunity to provide them with some stability.


The school we have chosen also has a good level of diversity amongst its students, and having lived the past four years in China and Taiwan, having a presence of chinese students was also important to us. 


So we feel very happy with the decision we’ve made, although it wasn’t easy. The girls start in their new school next week. I am sure they will enjoy it. I feel positive about how the school has embraced them, offering them a transition day before the holiday. And I am super excited to see what they will achieve in their new environment. 


How do you choose the right school for your kids? What factors do you consider? Please do share in the comments, I would love to hear from you. 


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