Gold Coast private schools come in all shapes and sizes. But many parents ask the question: “Does the size of the school matter, and what are the benefits of a small school versus a big school?”
Big schools have plenty of space and therefore usually impressive facilities. But does that huge student footprint and volume come at your child’s detriment? Could they get lost in the crowd?
Conversely, a small school might have less expansive grounds, but they have smaller classes and can offer a more personalised learning experience.
A report from the National Education Policy Center in the US titled Does Class Size Matter? concluded that class sizes do matter, stating:
“Research supports the common-sense notion that children learn more and teachers are more effective in smaller classes”.
David Zyngier from Monash University mirrored these results in his review on the effects of class size for the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, saying:
“Findings suggest that smaller class sizes in the first four years of school can have an important and lasting impact on student achievement, especially for children from culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised communities. This is particularly true when smaller classes are combined with appropriate teacher pedagogies suited to reduced student numbers.”
A small private Christian school with big ideas
Gold Coast Christian College, nestled behind Reedy Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church, is a small private Christian school on the Gold Coast. It believes that being at a small school benefits students and parents.
“We are proud to be a small school,” says Paul Mattner, Principal at Gold Coast Christian College. “We are a single stream school from Kindy to Year 12. And we also have a weekly playgroup for 0-5-year-olds.”
Mr Mattner believes that the key benefit of a small school is the additional attention students receive.
“All Gold Coast Christian College students are known by many staff, and teachers can be responsive to student’s learning due to smaller class sizes. Our students enjoy the nurturing environment which enables them to feel safe and supported, and encouraged to engage in their learning journey,” says Mr Mattner.
Four benefits of a small school on the Gold Coast
1. Low student-to-teacher ratio
Fewer students in each class results in each student receiving more assistance from the teacher and support staff.
Mr Mattner says, “We often surprise parents with the number of elective options Gold Coast Christian College still offers, despite the cohort size. We are committed to providing a healthy array of subjects.”
“For example, there might only be a handful of students in a senior Chemistry class. But we will still offer the subject, and the students receive significant teacher attention and assistance as a result,” says Mr Mattner.
2. Better connections
At a smaller school, students form connections with students in other year levels through planned learning activities, lunchtime play, school camps and interschool sports.
“Students regularly mix between year levels, which helps to foster a feeling of community and belonging,” explains Mr Mattner.
“At Gold Coast Christian College, we look for opportunities to run events that provide an opportunity to include parents, gather as a school community and celebrate our students’ efforts and achievements.”
3. Responsive Teaching
A small private school can focus more on each student with a responsive teaching approach.
“Our emphasis is on providing a learning environment responsive to students’ strengths and needs. This helps develop their academic, emotional, and social skills,” says Mr Mattner.
Because of this, educators look for the strengths and weaknesses of every student and adjust their approach accordingly.
“Each child comes to us with unique talents and abilities,” says Mr Mattner. “Our teachers look for ways to connect with these students, and to challenge them to develop their strengths further, and assist them where they struggle.”
4. A safe space to try new things
Students at a small private school have plenty of opportunities to represent their College in various extra-curricular activities.
“Every student from Year 4 can participate in interschool sports. And a more significant proportion of students in a small school get the opportunity to make a representative team. Those interested in additional training can join the weekly sports development afternoon program (Primary). Or attend Sports Academy (Year 4-12) on a Tuesday morning,” says Mr Mattner.
This small school benefit also applies to students participating in Performing Arts.
“Our recent Easter musical production involved all the primary children!” Mr Mattner adds.
“We also find that students are more willing to get up and give it a go when performing in front of a smaller student body.”
So, does size matter?
The size of a school really can make a difference to your child’s education experience. And for those kids that would benefit from a more tailored and nurturing learning journey, a small school could just be the answer.
“If you’re considering a small school for your child, I encourage you to take a closer look at Gold Coast Christian College. Your child may just discover a world of opportunity waiting for them!” Mr Mattner says.