So the time is looming and I feel nowhere near as prepared or capable as I should be for the challenge. My 10 year old is about to enter his last year of primary school. You know, that cosy, familiar, nurtering bubble. Well that will soon be swapped for a school bag the size of a small car and a blazer ten times too big, bustling halls and public transport. My big fish is soon to become a very very small fish in a bloody huge pond.
I think he’s far more prepared than me, he was sold on the “massive playing fields and swimming pool” at one of the schools we viewed. Glad to see he’s got the fundamentals right. But for me, as for all parents facing the same its so much more than that. This is my baby, my first born about to embark on the next chapter. Secondary school is a huge stepping stone, one that in my opinion begins to mould the person into the type of adult they may become. Shits about to get serious.
So besides getting over the emotional, letting my baby fly the nest stuff (OK, he’s only starting secondary school..not leaving for Afghanistan!) I’m also extremely conscious that living in London puts huge pressure on finding and bagging a place at a decent school. TES.com states that London has the highest proportion of oversubscribed schools – 69 per cent – compared with 52 per cent in South-West England. Read more on this here. Bloody brilliant. My sister lives in Surrey and literally just applied for the local secondary (which happens to be amazing) and her twins got in, along with the other 28 kids from the class. London is fiercely but subtly competitive. I’ve been told to prepare for parents avoiding eye contact at the school gates, not wanting to disclose which schools they’ve applied for, rumours of cash incentives and inside knowledge. Not to mention, being Catholic means a lot of “hoop jumping” to ensure we meet the criteria. I find this a huge pressure as it takes away from the real reason we should be attending church.
We have 4 schools on our wish list, and to be honest I’d be happy with either of them. 3 are single sex schools with great history and reputation but also hugely over subscribed and the fourth is a co-educational, new school. One that was heavily campaigned for by our governers and will practically be a feeder for our current school.
My thoughts range from what if he gets a school none of his friends get to what if we choose a school based purely on an amazing reputation and it just doesn’t get him. Although the “choose” bit of that is a bit of a lie, the only choice we have initially is what schools to write on that bit of paper. That actual choice is made by boards, panels, governers. Anyone but us. Despite how it may sound, I am trying to stay pretty relaxed about it. Ultimately, what will be will be and I’ve said to my son that whatever happens, his happiness is paramount.
What are your thoughts, is it worth the hassle and hoop jumping for a “prestigious” school that looks good on a CV? Or should we get out while we can and move to the countryside?!