Katie and Shona Donald
You know that finding the right education opportunities are a high priority when a family travels well over a thousand kilometres return to spend two days talking with staff of the schools at the 2019 Dubbo Boarding Schools Expo.
Meet the Donald family – Katie, Lochie, and their four children travelled to Dubbo in May, from Mulwala on the Murray River, for that very purpose.
Boarding Schools Expo caught up with Katie and eldest daughter Shona, in Dubbo, to find out what prompted the road trip.
Time is ticking
It’s a big trip, so what made you feel it was worth taking, at this point in time?
[Katie] Our oldest is in Year 7, and while she’s at a really good school, she wants to do agriculture. In our area, for her to do ag you have to go to boarding school to do the hands-on ag. I know it’s not a job to do show teams, but that’s what she wants to do.
For us, we have four children and they’re all different, so the next stage is I can’t just look at one school and say that’s the fit for us, because I’ve got to meet the other children’s expectations and give them the opportunity.
…we Googled “boarding schools” and that’s how we found the Boarding Schools Expo.
That’s hard when you’ve got four children. Where are you with that process?
[Katie] We did a road trip the first week of the Victorian school holidays and we went up and saw some schools in this region, further up. When we came home, we spoke to other people and had a bit of a look around at what’s in Victoria. Then we Googled “boarding schools” and that’s how we found the Boarding Schools Expo. We saw there was a Wagga Expo and when we found out there wasn’t, we organised ourselves to go to Dubbo to learn.
So, we’re probably at the beginning stage, but I also know having one into Term 2 Year 7 (in May), the change of school will have to made sooner rather than later.
Making children part of the conversation
Shona, how involved have you been in the conversation?
[Shona] We’ve been asking questions as well because we know this is for us. My main thing about a show team is that it must have sheep and chooks.
You’ve now met some of the schools here at the Expo, what are your thoughts about the conversations you’ve had with those schools?
[Shona] I thought it was very interesting. As Mum said, it was well worth coming all this way and learning. I found two schools that I’m really interested in.
[Katie] Those schools tick our hit list, as well as a couple of others, covering things the kids like doing such as swimming and music…everything we currently do and we’re travelling for, those schools offer. The next step will be to look at the financials, go and see the schools, and see what can be done…and to start really planning.
We’ve got the dates of when things are happening at the schools, to go and look at them, but I’d say by the end of July we’ll have a clear direction of where we want to go, applications will be going in and we’ll be begging and borrowing.
…they only get one chance, one choice and I want bang for my buck as well.
Did you think it would be as intensive and as big a decision as it has been?
[Katie] I’m a maternal child health nurse and I’ve always been a person who gone and researched everything. At the end of the day, our children’s education means they only get one chance, one choice and I want bang for my buck as well. I say that in a nice way – I want to see results, I want to see the kids happy and doing things. So, we need to be informed to make informed decisions, and base our opinions on what we think after that. It’s also got to fit the kids…it’s a huge thing.
If, like the Donald family, you believe your children have once chance and one choice, come to the Tamworth Boarding Schools Expo this week – 26 and 27 July at Memorial Town Hall. It’s our last Expo for 2019. There’ll be 31 schools under one roof, ready to talk to you about what they might offer your children. It’s never too early to start the process…and bring your children with you.
For our southern NSW families, you’ll get a chance to visit the Expo close to home next year in Griffith and Wagga Wagga. Dates will be announced very soon.