When to change school for your child

Pupils of Police Children’s School in Kibuli,a Kampala suburb leave school. Teachers were striking over pay which has cost students. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Matters. Here are factors to consider before you change your child’s school.

Choosing the right school for your child is critically important for your child’s development. It helps them develop the right social, emotional, and academic skills that are important to them.

As a parent, therefore, you must evaluate this decision periodically to ensure that you are getting value for money. If not, make the decision to change school for your child. But, why do parents change their children’s schools?   

From my research and interaction with parents, the following below are some of the reasons:   

If there is bullying 
When your child is being bullied at school and you have talked with the school administration and there is no change, you must move your child from that school. 

Bullying has not only negative psychological but also physical effects on a child’s health. You don’t want that for your child. Unless you are the type of parent who supports violence and would like your child to hit back at his or her bullies, which is a bad idea, you want to withdraw your child to safety at the earliest opportunity.   

Catastrophic maintenance
My friend Reagan says, “My children were in one of the premier schools in Kampala. I used to drive them to and fro home in Entebbe daily. This put an unbearable strain on my finances. I made the decision to pull them out and enrol them in a nearby affordable school. I am more at peace now. I do not have to worry about their fees or school requirements because I can afford them comfortably while they can enjoy quality education.”   

Coping issues 
One child might not cope with the academic rigours or the social environment or the pace of that school thereby ending up mentally and emotionally broken. 

On her child’s former school, Hajarah  says:“My son is autistic. I put him in a regular school so he would be challenged to adjust but soon realised that other children made fun of him and even bullied him.  The teachers too did not know how to handle my child’s condition. He consequently became worse and I took him for a school of the disabled. Now he is progressing well.” 

If   they are not improving
You choose a school for your child because you are looking at a quality that school offers that will improve your child. If it is academics, you want them to perform well, if it is sports you want them to excel at a sport or two, if it is in the creatives, you want them to sharpen their acting or singing talents…whatever it is, if the school is not delivering on their promises, or is declining, then it may be time you look elsewhere.  

Job transfers
Your employer might relocate you far away from your children’s school. Unless one parent can stay and hold forte, it is advisable that you move with your children. Martin and Debbie did exactly that: “We moved to Tanzania because Martin got a good job there. I was a housewife I could have stayed here but wanting to be close to my husband and the children, we all moved to Tanzania. We found good schools for them. It has been four years since and we are not complaining,” says Debbie.

Forcing unacceptable behaviour or beliefs on your child
If a school is forcing, for instance their religious persuasions on your child that you do not like, or they are being liberal about matters you consider should remain conservative, you may have to be bold and walk your child out of that school. 

For instance, Reagan and Susan decided to move their daughter when they learnt that their child’s school was liberal about sexuality, “We are Baganda traditionalists at heart. We believe and are proud of our cultural ancestry. We found out that our daughter’s international school was teaching them that there are more genders than two we know (male and female). That was enough for us to remove her from such an environment.”       

If the school is of a lower standard than home
Jessica changed the school of her son Bonny.
 “Bonny was in this boarding secondary school that was not so great in terms of socialisation and facilities. Most of the children were foreign sponsored from villages while Bonny was born and raised in Kampala. I also used to pay his school fees fully. He found it hard to adapt to other children as there was limited or no socialisation due to language and other social barriers. 

Also, the school facilities such as toilets were not good, I feared bacterial infections. The hardest time of his life was always when the term began and he had to return to school; the boy did not want to go. He was always unhappy. I later learnt that he did not fit in. so, after a year I changed him to another school where most of his old primary school friends were. This school also had good facilities that were close in quality compared to those in our home. He loved the school and it has never been a struggle to study there. I am convinced that a child should never go to a school that is of a lower standard than his or her home.”

If there is insecurity around the school
 We know that some parts of this country are insecure. Cases of bandits invading schools, burning dormitories, killing and abducting students like it was for Kichwamba Technical Institute in Kabarole on June 8, 1998 when rebels affiliated to ADF attacked and set three dormitories on fire killing 80 students and more recently in 2023 when 38 students lost their lives in an attack by rebels from across the DRC border, are not far-fetched. If you are a parent with children in such areas, withdrawing them for their safety is a logical consideration.  

If the parent-school relationship is lacking
If the school does not care about parents’ views or suggestions and locks them out, then parent consider withdrawing your child from such a school. A good school should be able to, for instance, allow parents to walk in and ask teachers questions about their child’s performance and progress. 

The goal is to have optimal learning outcomes for the child. Changing your child’s school is not always easy on any parent. It involves disruptions to child and parent in the long-run but if it is to make the child happier and better, then you might as well do it.