A Checklist For Finding A Great Primary School

Published by alvinauh on

Parenthood is filled with challenges. One of these many challenges is finding the perfect school for your child. In my country, the choices of schools can be rather complicated. There are Vernacular schools that teaches in either Mandarin or Tamil, there are the National schools that teaches in Malay and there are the International schools that teaches in English. While finding the perfect school is difficult, it is possible to find a great school.

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As an educator and father, I have compiled a list of criteria for my daughter’s future school. My role as a teacher trainer has given me the opportunity to visit many great schools. Through my years of doing so, I have found that some of the great schools have a few defining characteristics. The first is classroom size.

Classroom Size

Classroom size plays an important role for your child’s learning. Research indicates that the ideal teacher to student ratio should not exceed 1:25. In other words, a teacher ideally should not be in handling a class of more than 25. Of course, this does not always happen.

As such, it is best to find schools that have a limit to the amount of students in the class. The idea behind this is that a teacher can give a healthy amount of focus to each student in the class. Otherwise, the teacher will tend to focus only on the excellent and problematic students in the class. Those that are average may end up falling behind in their development.


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However, a rural school can have very few students. That however, does not mean that you should send your child to the most rural school of all. As such, you should take into consideration other factors as well.

Extracurricular Activities

Certain schools may defer from others in terms of the extracurricular activities that they offer. Such activities include a robotics club, swimming or a unique traditional sport.

In terms of robotics or certain coding classes, this would help your child learn an important skill for the future. Not many schools would have such classes because it requires equipment that only some schools can afford.

As for sports like swimming or even tennis, a school would need to invest a sizable amount of resources in either building, or even renting these facilities. In addition, unique traditional sports or even musical instruments would grant your child an edge.  This can help your child acquire more unconventional opportunities or even scholarships in certain colleges. Furthermore, traditional sports may not be as competitive and thus, not as stressful.

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Another important point is who will be teaching these extracurricular activities. If the teacher is a state coach or a trainer in said extracurricular activities, your child would stand to benefit from these teachers.

However, do be aware if these teachers are just ‘placeholders’ for these extracurricular activities. Some teachers may be forced to just supervise these extracurricular activities and may not be qualified to teach these activities.

Ties To A Secondary School & Medium of Instruction

It is always good to think far ahead. Since you are already considering your child’s primary school, why not consider which secondary school they are going to go to?

Certain primary schools have indirect ties to secondary schools. As such, it would be easier for you to gain a spot in a secondary school if you have gone to a primary school that was ‘approved’ by said secondary school.

Of course, you also have to consider what language the school teaches in. This may not be an issue for some, but in countries like mine where students are required to be at least bilingual, this is extremely important.

That being said, consider sending your child to schools that teach in the top three most spoken languages of the world. The last I check, that’s English, Mandarin and Spanish. However, if you feel strongly about letting your child learn other languages, go for it!

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The People & Cost To Quality Ratio

I know this sounds rather ‘douchey’ to say but, a child’s development is affected by his/her peers. Everyone is unique in their own way. However, if you put a group of students in a class, they are bound to influence each other in certain ways.

There are many theories related to this. However, lets look at Vygotsky’s view on scaffolding. The theory stipulates that a student can learn well if supported by peers who are more competent. Thus, do take into account who the students are and their socioeconomic status. This is not a defining factor, but it does contribute to the child’s overall development.

Another aspect to consider is the cost to quality ratio. If you have to pay for your child’s education. Do make sure that you are paying for just that. In my case, I won’t mind paying for a smaller classroom, better learning opportunities and an international syllabus. However, I don’t think paying for better air conditioning is worth paying for.


I hope the list has been helpful. The list is what I have learnt over time and I hope it can help you in finding a great school for your child. If you have any comments or disagreements, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.