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What Makes A Good School Great? Tips For Selecting A School For Your Child

New parents are faced with the difficult task of selecting from a huge number of options when it comes to educational institutions. And if you happen to be an expatriate looking to enroll your child in an international school overseas, evaluation can be even more confusing.

Without a background in teaching pedagogy themselves, where to start evaluating?

Certain universal logic stands tried and true: it’s great teachers that make the most difference in a child’s education. So what do great teachers and educators look for when evaluating a school? “A great campus” is a must for most but many educators will answer this question with a follow up question: “Which curriculum are you talking about?”

The dictionary defines curriculum as “the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college” or “course of study” or “program of study”. There are a lot of competing curriculums and most of these are peer studied and backed up with scientific research and the best are continuously evolving over time. But what’s the best way for parents to evaluate a curriculum if they’re not an academic themselves?

A simple, straightforward way to compare curricula is checking international outcomes. For example, Singapore has the highest-achieving primary and secondary pupils in international education tests in maths and science1.

While Singapore has clearly succeeded in outcomes, other components of a curriculum can be unique from school to school.

For example:

  • Learning experiences: Is it project oriented? Experiential?
  • How does it align with leading learning philosophies? For example, is it constructivist? What are the learning philosophies the teachers in a school believe in and practice?
  • What is the quantity and quality of the feedback given to each individual student?
  • How relevant and involved is the student in the teaching process? Does the school use storytelling and scenarios to get the students involved in the process?
  • How much attention is given to developing the individual character and personality of each student so that they are enabled to go on to an inspired future of self discovery?

We would love to know: how are you evaluating schools in Jakarta for your children? How are you measuring schools in Indonesia for your pre-school, primary, secondary and junior college-aged children?

Young girl studies

1 BBC News: Singapore tops global education rankings