State School principal Rob Casamento writes in today's Age newspaper about how parents should go about choosing a school for their child. While written for a mainstream audience - there's no mention of special needs - the advice is relevant for all.
While attending open days, presentation mornings or evening sessions can be helpful, it is only by witnessing a school in action, on an ordinary week day, that parents can truly gauge the spirit and educational culture of the school.
The question of 'what is a good school for my child with Aspergers' comes up often in our parent support group meetings. While Asperger Syndrome Support Network Vic has compiled a list of schools that may be suitable, nothing can replace the research parents do for their individual child. By all means ask questions about special education programs, NAPLAN and Year 12 results. But make sure that along with witnessing gyms, libraries, performance spaces and classroom dynamics, you also see how the children interact at lunchtime with each other and with staff, and pay a visit to the toilet block. As Rob Casamento writes, toilet maintenance can tell you a lot about a school!
I'll be covering these issues in detail in my next book, The Hidden Diffability: Aspergers At School, to be published in 2013.
If you are still deciding about where to enrol your child, I highly recommend you read Rob Casamento's article published in The Age newspaper on 9 October 2012, 'School Open Day Spin Just A Classroom Act'.