Living 50km north of Moree, Jodie and Andrew Crowe had discussed the idea of boarding school before the first of their six children arrived. It was something they felt was right for them but would take some adjustment as each child left home.
As for choosing what schools would best suit their children, it was a personal decision based on the positive impression past Ascham students had made on them and the school’s relationship to families in the area.
As Jodie explained to Boarding Schools Expo’s Kim V. Goldsmith when you have six children and a business to run, there’s not a lot of time for shopping around and the confusion that goes with it.
The decision to send the boys to The Scots College was based not only on the educational offering but its proximity to Ascham, a serious logistics issue when you’re managing the activities of a large family.
How do you mentally prepare yourself to send your children away to school…particularly that first one?
Well, we talked about it a lot and so the children knew from quite a young age that’s where they would go. It was very sad but it was something we knew was for the best and we had to be strong.
I’ve got four away now [in Years 8, 9, 11 and 12], but I’ve still got two at home [in Years 4 and 6], so I’m not bored with things still happening at home.
How do the children left at home cope when their siblings head off to school? That’s a big change for them too.
It is, and when they come home. The kids go away and they’re ruling the roost for a term, then the dynamics change. That’s been really difficult.
I know when Mia first started, we didn’t go down to Sydney much because we had so many kids at home. Now, the balance is the other way. We don’t often go together because someone has to look after the other two at home.
With Mia in Year 12 now there are more things happening and Andrew and I have gone together a bit more – the little ones are asking why we have to go to Sydney all the time.
It’s a real adjustment for everyone then, isn’t it?
It is a real juggling act trying to work out the logistics of it all. People need to be made aware that’s what it’s like…and it’s getting busier for us.
But you’re not really handing the responsibility of raising a teenager to a school because as parents we do want to be involved in our child’s schooling and life.
We’ve decided now that the little ones are getting older we don’t want to miss these opportunities – be it a Year 12 function or the last game of football for a while.
I imagine the family calendar is an impressive document?
(laughing) Yes, it is. It’s duplicated so everyone can see what’s going on and I just have days where I work on the kids’ stuff because they’ll ring me and tell me I forgot to answer an email…
It was said to me when my daughter went away to school that it’s sad because they leave home as a child, and when they return – if they return – they’re an adult. Do you think that’s true?
I don’t think that’s true because we have telephones and mobiles and email. They’re still ringing and they need your help. I find when they do come home, they need to relax a bit and let off all the pressure and responsibility of being at school, and they want Mum there.
You still feel very, very connected?
Absolutely. Very connected. We’re seeing them throughout the term and talking to them a lot during the week.
Technology has made the real difference to boarding compared to 20 years ago…
And the ability to travel – to be able to hop on a plane and get to Sydney to see them.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you had the time over again?
No. It’s been a real learning curve and I thought things might quieten down but they haven’t…(laughs)…it’s sped up!
Find out more about what schools might suit your family at the Narrabri Boarding Schools Expo on 27 and 28 July at the Crossing Theatre. Admission is free. 39 schools from NSW and Queensland are attending, plus ICPA NSW. Find out what schools will be there and pre-register online.