I can’t believe DD is only just three and we’re applying for schools already for next September. Everytime I read the word ‘choice’ in council literature, I see ‘tombola’. Didn’t realise when we moved here seven years ago that we are in education nomansland, with no obvious local primary school, and nowhere near any of the ‘Good’ ones round here.
My mental map of the city over the past few years has shifted, from knowing where the off licences and takeaways are, to soft play centres and baby- (and boob- ) friendly caffs, to every infant and junior school and last year’s precise catchment area, which is usually around a mile from our house.
One more school tour tomorrow and then the form is due in on 22 October. It’s entirely possible we will get none of our three choices and just be assigned somewhere. Private isn’t an option for financial and ideological reasons, although I was shocked to hear ‘Maybe we’ll win the lottery and we can send her to xx school’ coming out of my mouth during a moment of panic after seeing our nearest school, on a mildly dodgy estate. Now I’ve got children and they are the most precious things in the world, I am beginning to see how some left-wing politicians manage to convince themselves it’s OK to shell out for private schooling.
The Independent Schools Directory is running a poll on what is most important to parents when choosing a school, and it’s all about Ofsted ratings and academic standards, rather than facilities, atmosphere, pastoral care or staff. Do I want DD to be happy and cared for by great teachers, or to achieve her academic potential? Can you do the latter, without the former? Is it a given that if you go private you are guaranteed all of those things anyway? Or will DD and DS thrive in any school if I get really involved in their education?
My mum reassured me, sort of, by reminding me that I was probably unhappiest at the ‘best’ schools I went to. I might have to start looking for killer heels to wear to PTA meetings…