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Comparing schools odious and counter-productive

Comparing schools odious and counter-productive

Andrews & Emery

  1. Accepting that the Court is faced here, as it usually is in interim hearings, with much “he said – she said” assertions, I simply note that the Father contends that the Mother did not consult him about enrolment of X in the (omitted) system.
  2. Finally, by way of general observation, in my view:
      (a) comparing schools or other educational institutions is odious and essentially counter-productive, especially in circumstances, such as the present, where there are very young children involved. Their very young ages makes it even more problematic about the utility or appropriateness to evaluate what is best for the child or children in question. Their personalities and talents at such young ages remain still to be fully developed. Educational assessment, unless done by relevant expert(s), must necessarily be more educated guesswork supplemented by personal preference of one or other parent;
    (b) to make an assessment of one school (or school system) over another necessarily is to engage in a process of choice by a parent. More often than not, absent some very specific reason for a particular school that offers a program that is particularly directed to the needs of a particular child, invariably involves a simple contest between the preferences of one parent against the preferences of the other parent. Strictly speaking, it is not a “legal issue”; it is more a philosophical choice between preferences. Given the educational systems available in this country, absent the kinds of considerations to which I have already referred, it cannot be said with utter authority that one school is better than another. Invariably it becomes a question essentially of degree only;
    (c) perhaps more relevantly, to choose a highly specialised school or system, such as (omitted), requires (in my view) a more formal and detailed level of evidence that is not [currently] before the Court and why (other than the Mother’s personal preference) it best suits the child or children here. Further, by effectively ceding to the Mother absolute authority or responsibility to decide what is educationally best for the child/children, could be seen as effectively rewarding her intransigence for not negotiating with the Father about schools for the children. Again I stress that, absent relevant evidence (which is not before the Court about why (omitted) is best for X), the Court cannot make any properly informed decision about how or why such a school (or school system) would best suit him, and similarly why or how it would be better for him than a government-run school that is geographically more convenient to both parents;
    (d) in short, there is a dearth of relevant evidence before the Court regarding the particular school and school system proposed by the Mother. In such circumstances, it remains very much a case of “he said – she said”, which leaves the Court with very few options other than to leave the child X in his current pre-school but with no other enrolment or change until there is a final hearing. The parents are clearly capable adults and should consider alternatives other than litigation to “work through” their relatively few parenting issues. Moreover, the Court, particularly in the absence of independent or other relevant evidence (as opposed to mere or simple “preference”), should be very slow and very careful, in effect, not to reward what might otherwise be a form of obstinacy by one parent rather than to insist that two adults, the parents of the children in question, resolve their philosophical differences in relation to major long-term issues in relation to the children by other means. The Court (and others) will wait with more than passing interest to see what (if any) evidence is provided at the final hearing in relation to matters of schooling, and other things.

  1. Doing the best that the Court can in the current climate of discord and sometimes less than co-operative parenting, which obviously may not augur well for some longer-term parenting issues (in which case the lawyers better get ready, as should the parents and their bank accounts), and noting that there is the certainty of a full trial later in the year, in my view, it is in the best interests of the child (X), pursuant to s.60CA of the Act, that the following order is made:
    1. On the basis that the Mother pays all fees and expenses, X shall continue only in the PTP program and shall not do or be enrolled in anything else, pending a final hearing.


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