Open Season - How to choose the right school for your child with two houses

School Open season has started. Each school inviting us to come check them out determined to show us the best they can offer. From highlighting their academic achievements to sporting prowess everything is sparkling clean and shiny (& importantly in amongst Australias shortage, full of toilet paper). Deciding on which school "wins" your student should be pretty straightforward when you take mandatory in-catchment schools zones into account. You either like the school closest to your address, try out for an excellence program for one of the better out of catchment schools or pay for the chance to attend your private school of choice . How do you determine which school is best for your child when they share two households? • What was the plan pre-separation?

• Do you find an 'almost as good school ' equal driving distance from both houses? • Take into account travel time for the child? What is the least amount of travel back and forth for them? • Go to the same school as your child's friends? • Look at all aspects as what is best for my child? • Look at all aspects as what is best for me as the parent and my lifestyle? • Explain calmly to the other parent why your preferred school is best for your child? • Go to mediation in an attempt to reach an agreement? • Go to court and fight for your school of choice? • Ignore any attempt at discussing hoping to "wing it" When a child comes from two households these decisions can either show the child how both parents work together or highlight the dysfunction. Either way, what is best for the child needs to be the most important thing.

For me, as both a Mother and a Stepmother I am thinking about the following: • What does the school have to offer? • What is the least amount of travel for the children (5 mins down the road half the time is much better then 30 mins or more all the time). • What is included in the fees - do I need to purchase laptop, school text books, sport, formal & speciality uniforms, ongoing excellence program fees, school instrument, camp and excursions on top of the standard book list and school fees? • The overall feel of the school - did the school impress me during the open day session or did the principal's speech make me question why I would want my child at a school they don't seem confident in. • Process to get child in - audition process vs catchment. What are the realistic chances for the child to get in. Am I putting pressure on my C grade student by forcing them to audition for an excellence program against other students more likely to actually get in? • What is my plan to get my child (& all their stuff) to and from the school.

  • If it is by Bus, how long does this take? What is my plan for rainy days, for handover days, for days that they are required to take multiple items? Are they both mature and responsible enough for this option?

  • If I am going to drive them, what happens if I can't get there, is there a backup plan in place? Is after school care an option? How easy is it for them to get to the other parents house if this is an option.

• Realistically, with work commitments how easy will it be to get them too and from school if out side hours care is not an option due to their age group.

Obviously, I don't have all the answers, so help me out. How did you decide? Any tips? Did one parent run point on the decision? Was it decided pre-split? What happens if the co-parent cannot agree?

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