There is a definite irony in parenting that no sooner are we raising eyebrows and sniggering at ‘the things parents do’, than we are doing it ourselves.
Currently, living this dream, primary school applications stylee.
“What can all the fuss be about?”, “I’m not bothered about school reputations, or listening to hear say”, “It’s nothing to get stressed about”…I said, once upon an ignorant time.
But it sucks you in. Big time. Suddenly, it does feel the decision of the century, and us over analytical Mums will have a field day, worrying about every possible vantage point on which schools to put down, and in which order. I’m pretty certain I’m waffling about this to anyone who’ll listen lately, hoping someone will make the decision for me or tell me the right answer. I’m boring myself, let alone my friends and family (unless of course they are class of 2016 Mums too). I’m unbelievably envious of our Mum pals who have a clear cut option…like a decent school, opposite their house (why was this day never on our radar when we moved… when I was pregnant! #fail).
At a time of year when there isn’t much else going on (ha ha), November and December have been filled with discussions over Ofstead ratings, catchment areas and whether you got the all important ‘feeling’ on the tour. That magical sought after illusive ‘thing’, ‘something about it’…like when you are looking for your new house, or searching for ‘the one’.
And that’s not all there is to think about – logistics of doing the school run, pre & after school club facilities, faith schools (and letters from the church), intake number, and, of course, how over subscribed each good school is. The Supermums chat group hasn’t seen so much activity since…well, ever.
As a Mum who likes to run a pretty tight ship, the uncertainty in it all is what does your head in the most. Don’t expect any answers on the tours as to ‘how likely you are to get in’. No one will, or can possibly say. Each year will have a variation in number of applicants and siblings, so your ‘chance’ this year could be far greater or worse than last years.
There are so many different ways to approach the type of school that is ‘best’. Do you go for a small nurturing school, amazing little bubble to be in for now, but will they get a shock transitioning to secondary school? Or, do you go for the larger school, which will prepare your child for the chaos of real life, and allow for a wider interaction, but may result in them getting a little lost?
Once you have viewed as many as possible and composed your shortlist – there is then the fun and games of deciding how to tactically apply. Do you put down your favourite, in which you may stand zero to slim chance of getting – and put your realistic choice as second, or dare I say it third? Or, do you give up on your hopes and accept defeat before really knowing, thus eliminating any stress but living with wondering what if? The down side of taking the punt, is (I think?) you may mess up your plan B option by not putting it first. This seems to be a bit of a grey area – no one seems to know or understand the exact logarithm used to decide.
So much to consider, I’ve barely stopped to think about how I went from grumbling about teething, to talking about school admission policies. Man, this growing up happens too quick doesn’t it?
I always believed it wouldn’t bother me that Tigs probably wouldn’t go to the school linked to her nursery, as we don’t live (like all her pals) on the doorstep. But now, suddenly, that seems very sad.
I thought I’d be open minded, and was rooting to love the school around the corner with a pretty poor reputation. But, maybe some preconceptions are just too deep rooted to forget? Although, according to some others, it’s a wonderful school with a new Head, and plenty of change coming. Every time I think I have decided, a conversation with pretty much anyone sends me 180 degrees in another direction.
Feeling the decision weighing heavily on my shoulders (Mr G couldn’t make all the tours), I’m nearing a decision. I think.
I’m reminding myself daily that Tigs is a bright little spark, with bundles of personality, and she’ll be fine anywhere. I also have several schools I like, none that I love, and will be devastated if I don’t get. So, I guess the plan is to put down our favourite three, including at least one realistic option, and hope for the best. Let someone else decide, because I clearly can’t!
And, we’ll be getting that form filled in online well in advance of the big-C, so the discussion is off the table…ready for the Turkey, sprouts and Christmas pud.
How are you getting on with school applications this year? Any advice for us Mums doing it for the first time?!