Visit schools before you invest in a property
The availability of good schooling is often a major factor in deciding where to buy your next home, and independent information about school results and fees is much more readily available than it used to be.
“Many schools now have their own web sites and social media pages too, where one can find out about the school’s history, culture, teaching staff, facilities and subjects and extramural activities offered,” says Gerhard Kotzé, MD of the RealNet estate agency group.
“However, before opting for a particular school, parents still need to ensure that it will meet their expectations and their childrens' specific needs - and education experts say there is simply no substitute for an in-person visit, preferably during an open day when staff are available to show you around and answer your questions.”
This will give parents an opportunity to observe how well the school buildings are maintained, the neatness and appearance of classrooms, the bathrooms and the state of the playing fields, he says. “You’re not looking for luxury here, but if you see temporary buildings and poorly-maintained grounds, for example, this can indicate a tight budget and perhaps a lack of funding for other things too.
“Academically, the school must also offer all the subjects that your children need, while a variety of sporting codes and extramural activities broadens the scope for participation and teamwork among children with different interests and talents.”
Kotzé says parents should ask about the number of students in each class, the homework expectations and how often pupils will need to write tests or hand in assignments. Does the school run educational field trips and sports tours? And how much time is spent on individual rather than group tuition?
“It is also worth asking how long the principal has been at the school, what staff turnover is like, whether teachers are encouraged to seek additional qualifications, and whether there is a formal discipline system in place.
“And finally, parents should check for themselves on the demeanour and behaviour of the current pupils, as these often say most about the quality of a school.”