Amanda Ferrari hails from Trangie, on the Central Western Plains of NSW. She’s still starry-eyed over the fact that she managed to snag a farmer, and has been married to Ross for 22 years. They have three children, twins Amy and Annabel, who are completing their university studies in Sydney. Both girls attended Abbotsleigh, and their youngest son, Oliver (Year 10) is at The Kings School.
With a healthy sense of humour, no doubt sorely tested by the trials and tribulations of parenthood, Amanda shares her experience of finding the right boarding school for her three children.
Well, this is a new social outing for me…via the keyboard. I’m a former ESP (Eastern Suburbs Princess) tempted to the great plains of NSW by fabulous parties and a depth of humanity not known in the bowels of big cities. I married my farmer and together we have increased the population of our little western town by three.
These are glorious days and we enjoy a way of life so foreign to those in more populous areas that I find myself continually feeling sorry for residents east of the Great Divide…unless of course, said residence is a beachfront shack, then my heart still yearns ever so slightly.
It seems the journey of parenthood flies by at the speed of a category 4 cyclone with the eye being that lull between getting the kids off the chequebook and grandchildren. We are nearing the eye of the storm with both our daughters finishing university (seems endless, and then you get hit with “I’m thinking of doing ‘my’ Masters…,” sigh), and one ‘Baby Jesus’ in Year 10. Our small town knows him as ‘Baby Jesus’ as he could do no wrong in my eye – a myth shattered upon entry into his secondary years.
Doesn’t it feel like one minute you’re cradling a new-born and the next you are sewing an endless pile of name tags on everything from undies to laundry bags? Lord save me, something I always outsourced…but that’s another story.
“…we were looking for schools with a long unbroken history of country boarders…”
We were always very definite about our selection process when choosing boarding schools. Fortunately for us, my farmer and I did not feel bound by tradition, even though the push was quite strong from some family members. Our criteria were quite simple: we were looking for schools with a long unbroken history of country boarders; schools where their boarding communities have remained strong and strongly supported through generations. We wanted a no-nonsense approach to education and pastoral care, and we wanted a history of consistent academic success, particularly the 10 years or so prior to our enrolment.
We made a list of priorities. At the top of that list was our most important criteria, which was the unbroken history of strong boarding communities. For us, narrowing it down with this rule made it straightforward.
“It’s a heartfelt process and as we choose to offer our children the wonderful opportunity that boarding school is, we all do so with love.”
Our search was contained to Sydney, and without that number one criteria, it would have been so difficult to choose, as the schools are OTT amazing! There were ticks all over the page. While we certainly applied for scholarships it was not a deal breaker. In fact, we rejected two very good offers from great schools based on our number one selection criteria. Though my farmer still cries in his pea soup every time our bank account is stripped of another installment.
It’s a heartfelt process and as we choose to offer our children the wonderful opportunity that boarding school is, we all do so with love. Certainly, the range of schools attending the Boarding Schools Expo makes embarking on the journey infinitely easier.
Amanda Ferrari’s 5 tips for finding the right school
- Make a list of priorities;
- Look for a school with a long unbroken history of country boarders;
- A no-nonsense approach to education and pastoral care;
- A history of consistent academic success;
- Narrow down the search to schools that meet your priorities and go to a Boarding Schools Expo as part of the process.