The decision to pull your child out of their school and find another shouldn’t be taken lightly. But, with education playing such an important part in their future, this tough choice is often the right choice in certain circumstances.
From bullying to slipping standards, there are many reasons why a school switch might be the best step to take. To help you make this important decision, Casey Cosgray, incoming principal of Aldar Academies West Yas Academy, shares five signs it time to change schools.
School standards are slipping
Academic standards were probably the first attribute you looked at when choosing your child’s current school, so when they start to slip, you need to take note. Reversing a trend of poor results can’t happen overnight, and may come too late for your child. Voice concerns to the principal to understand their plan of action and keep a close eye on these signs of a school in decline:
- Exam results across year groups have been poor or declining for a number of years
- Negative inspection reports from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC)
- Reports of bad behaviour becoming more common
- Homework is being marked late or not assigned at all
- Exercise books show unmarked, unfinished, or poor quality work
There’s no guaranteed route to exams
Sandwiched between university and secondary school are the post-16 years, which involve final exams before students can jump into their undergraduate studies. These exams are therefore crucial, but not all education providers offer a guaranteed route - or the route you expect - all the way from the secondary years to post-16 exams.
For example, some American Curriculum schools actually offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program during years 12 and 13, rather than the American High School Diploma. Both are internationally-recognised qualifications, but if you want the American Diploma for your child, a school switch will be necessary. The question is when.
Sooner rather than later is recommended, to limit the disruption your child experiences and give them time to settle and prepare for the busy exam season.
Your child isn’t being challenged
No matter how strong the school is performing overall, your child still needs to be challenged every day to make sure they’re getting the most from every lesson. If they’re regularly assigned extra tasks or complain of boredom, they may be too advanced for the level of education provided.
If your child needs a tougher test, the school must be able to provide it. This could mean grouping them with students of a similar ability, or offering extension and booster classes to help them prepare for exams. Simply adding to their workload is not the answer. The priority should be to make sure high-achieving students are given differentiated tasks that challenge their level of knowledge.
If this need cannot be met, your child may not be able to reach their full potential, which could limit their opportunities at higher education and beyond.
Your child is unhappy
While it’s normal for children to sometimes dislike school (we’ve all felt it), a prolonged period of unhappiness suggests something may be wrong.
The cause of this unhappiness could be bullying, difficulty making friends, anxiety, or a problem teacher – all of which can do serious damage to their education. The first step should be to understand exactly what’s troubling your child before informing the school principal and counselors. They can help you solve the issue, but if the problem persists, a school switch should be considered.
Feelings of unhappiness at school not only harm your child’s academic ability but also begin to affect their life beyond the school gates. This is a big red flag that needs to be addressed.
The school won’t listen
The school/parent relationship should be a partnership; a collaboration to solve problems and create the best learning outcomes. Communication between you and your child’s school should be open and accessible – whether it’s face to face, via email, or through a dedicated parent’s portal.
But what if there’s no willingness to forge a partnership? If the teachers or higher powers won’t listen to your concerns, how can you trust their actions? These concerns should be shared with the principal, but if no action is taken, a new, stronger partnership should be seriously considered for the good of your child.
The decision to change your child’s school isn’t an easy one to make, but in the situations above, it’s often the best choice for them and their future.
Casey Cosgray is the incoming Aldar Academies West Yas Academy principal. Cosgray has spent the last six years at the Western Academy of Beijing as Elementary principal, following 17 years of education experience in the US.
During her career in America, Cosgray oversaw the teaching quality and operations of 12 elementary schools as a director of elementary education.