Fladun / Back to school to big challenges

“Education at ACT government schools may be ‘free’, but the upfront, start-of-the-year costs are getting pretty steep, perhaps prohibitively so for families of modest means,” writes Mum in the City columnist SONYA FLADUN

WHAT a big week! Both my children started at new schools, one starting high school, the other moving to a new primary school.

Sonya Fladun.

Sonya Fladun.

Both are moving from a lovely, tiny private school with less than 100 pupils to schools with more than 1100 and 500 students respectively. It’s a big transition in more ways than one.

My oldest has certainly embarked on a new chapter in his educational life. In Adelaide, where I grew up, year seven was still at primary school, but here in the ACT it’s the beginning of high school.

He’s been hugely excited about high school, but also a bit nervous. He’s got big new challenges ahead. He’s got much more to do academically. He’s got to get himself organised and take much more responsibility for his own work. He’s working to make new friends and is dealing with a much bigger and complex social mix than he has been used to.

My girl is also adapting to a very different environment including the challenge of making new friends among kids who already know each other well.

For us parents, the immediate challenges are logistics and finance. Our son’s high school is much further away and after years of having both children at the same school we’re back to the dreaded double drop off.

And we’ve just dealt with all the start-of-the-school-year costs – including acquiring a vast amount of stationery and electronic gadgetry. I’m a big supporter of schools embracing new technology in teaching. My son’s new school has introduced a BYOD – bring your own device – policy and he’s pretty happy with that. But all that technology isn’t cheap and sending your child off each day with about a thousand dollars’ worth of IT paraphernalia in his backpack is a bit daunting budget wise.

Education at ACT government schools may be “free”, but the upfront, start-of-the-year costs are getting pretty steep, perhaps prohibitively so for families of modest means.

The other thing that gave me pause this week was coming back from a meeting at work to find an email on my computer telling me that my little girl’s new school was under lockdown. There had been a telephoned threat and all the kids and teachers were locked in their classrooms, hiding under their desks, until the police had checked the school and determined all was okay.

The school did all the right things and I am very happy that they take these matters seriously, but some children were very upset about the incident – and who could blame them? Fortunately my girl took the whole incident in her stride and wasn’t fazed at all.

So it has been a big week. But by the time other parents of school kids will be reading this, we’ll all be well into week two and there’ll be new challenges as homework starts to build up, sporting and other commitments start to grow and family logistics get just that bit more complicated.

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