A New Dilemma

Saturday, May 14, 2011
Now that we've made the decision to put the children into school, we find ourselves with new problems to solve.

Choice of highschool.

A question that I would very happily push to the back of the closet, but one that we need to start working on now. We have one year to make up our minds.

Having been out of the school system for so long, it has amazed me how much the system has changed. Now you need to apply a year in advance, go on waiting lists as soon as possible, and harangue the waiting list people in the nicest possible way until you get your wish granted. I am not good at that. Never ever put me in a sales career. I will not be good at it. I find it hard to be pushy, hard to promote myself or my kids, so waiting lists are not my thing.

Christchurch is all about schools. Your standing in society depends on where you went to school. It's annoying and it's juvenile, but that's the way it is - can't help it.

Hugh, our eldest son, goes to highschool in two years. Initially the thought of highschool terrified me - we know what it can be like - these are perilous times for an adolescent, so I thought of homeschooling through the highschool years, but the children don't want to - they are loving school - our little country school in all it's innocence, and my husband is reluctant to homeschool too - so I guess that is out of the question now. Last week my daughter's teacher phoned me up to say that Meredith has gone from the bottom of the class in math, to the top of the class with 100% in a recent test, in one term alone. My eldest son is teaching his own art classes during the lunch and morning tea breaks with his peers. He doesn't have much free time, because he had so many sign up for it. My husband; and I guess me too, think that we owe it to the children to give them the best education we can, seeing as they're showing some promise. I guess brains skipped a generation - in my case, anyway!

This week we've been going to a few open days at the highschools. Last week we went to St. Andrew's, a private school which would be our first choice while living in Christchurch. Trouble is - it's mega-bucks to send one child there, and we have four.

But we loved the school. When we turned up, a young student was assigned to us to show us through the school, and I can tell you I wish I was 13 years old again. It is so different now to the style of schooling that was available in the years I went to school. They have a fabric design option, for goodness sake!
My son was particularly keen on the graphics design option - they're drafting and making model buildings. It's inspirational, I tell you.

The only pill in the jam is that St. Andrew's only offers NCEA - not my favourite choice of school-leaver qualification, and it will mean a long bus ride for my boy to get there and get home again.
We have public schools out here where we live that we can send the children - but .... well .... let's just say there are a few objections to these that warrent the sacrifice private school would entail.

However, in searching all these options, there is another private school that we love, that is cheaper than St. Andrews and has 100% pass rate for their school leavers, and offer more than NCEA, and the deputy-head is a family-friend. Perfect, right? Trouble is the school is in Auckland. And we rather like living here in North Canterbury, with our lovely school and our lovely neighbours. It's even worth putting up with the earthquakes for the lifestyle, although my husband doesn't like having to drive an hour to work in the post-earthquake stress of moving office and fighting traffic, but hey - Auckland traffic is bad too, right?

The school is Strathallan, a 10 year old school on the outskirts of Auckland. Expensive real estate, but lovely country schools.

There is of course the cost of these private schools. That huge mountain of impossibility. We are putting that little issue into the back of the closet right now!

What to do? Don't you wish sometimes that life was an even pathway of smooth roads, flowers and shady trees, with no weighty decisions of whether to turn left or right?


Sandy Addison said...

My thoughts are with you in this decision. Something I do not want think about yet but it will be upon me before I know it.

Cate said...

Friends in our road have just popped their kids into Strathallen. It's hard yakka, but so far so good.

That private school snobbery thing is rife in central Auckland too!

Saar said...

Just found your blog, so pleased you are enjoying living in Canterbury. Our children have all completed their secondary schooling at Middleton Grange. For us a christian education in a christian environment was more important than going to "the school'. They all acheived really well allbeit with NCEA and have gone onto their chosen careers still serving and honouring God. Your children are being raised in a loving home, they will succeed whereever they go. Seek first the kingdom of God. In Christian love, Sarah.

Sarah of 'Catching the Magic' said...

A lovely post and you have my empathy. Wishing you all the best in deciding the path that might work out for the best (& maybe a Lotto ticket win too x).

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