It has come to that time when Stuart and I need to make what feels like to be an incredibly important decision with lots of responsibility – which school we would like to send Callum to.
I say we make the important decision but one thing we have come to realise is that we don’t actually have much say! I didn’t realise that you only get one school per catchment and as it will be another high intake year this year, most of the schools (the good ones anyway) are oversubscribed and rarely take outside their catchment area.
Typically, our catchment area is for the school that is ‘under review’. It was one of the reasons I was trying to avoid this area when house hunting but I thought there would be other options.
So I’ve been through all sorts of emotions and turned into the dreaded neurotic parent worrying about my poor wee boy and how will he cope in the big bad world of school!! I’ve stropped and moaned and ranted, much to the suffering of the poor people of Twitter, only to realise that our catchment school is probably the most sensible school for Callum to go to!
The school was the first one we went to visit and we were actually quite impressed with their attitudes to developing certain skills. They have student councils, playground mediators to work through playground altercations and Assistant Secretary to the Head. They were undergoing a lot of work to expand and modernise the work so they were quite cluttered and felt a bit manic but that was about to change. The new school design was lovely and the new classrooms lovely and airy. The developments were going to be an amazing change so I had to look past that.
In addition, have many have said to us, schools under review often have to work harder than those that have been awarded outstanding or good status as they are being closely watched by Ofsted. I’ve been told of many stories where a school was under review one year and went on to be outstanding the next & one of the best schools in the area so I know this can change & am not too hung up on its Ofsted grading.
My concerns were two-fold. One silly one and one very serious one. The silly one was regarding a muddy play area the children spend quite a lot of time in. The teacher said they were going to be keeping an element of the muddy area as the children really learnt from it and enjoyed it. I am normally for a bit of messy play but my fear is for the washing and replacement of uniform!
The second worry was about Callum and whether his personality and character would fit in at the school. Callum, like many children, can be quite shy at first but will overcome his shyness to an extent but still gets very intimidated by big groups. It is something that has been picked up at nursery and they have placed him into a small cluster group to work on giving him confidence. I worry that Callum will be lost in this school and would either be bullied or led into trouble. A lady that teaches at the school who I met sociably said lots of positive things about the school but said it was possible this could happen with Callum at the school.
However, the nursery will write a transfer note about Callum including a note from the lady that has been working with him in his cluster group. The school also go to the nursery to see the children that will be going there. If I am still worried then I can speak to the school myself. What’s more, my fears could be unfounded and he could get on brilliantly. Only time will tell of course.
We do have a preferred school which we are currently trying to decide whether to put first or second. We are about 300 yards outside its catchment area but the school is 2 miles away so if they do take children outside their catchment area, we are highly unlikely to be granted a place. If it was closer, I would be putting it first without a doubt and 2 miles away in the right direction wouldn’t be a problem but it is likely to be in the opposite direction to where I may work in the future. I would have to go away from work to drop Callum off and then back the other way again. That said, I have done this before when Callum was at nursery full time in Godalming and I worked full time so it is still achievable. The school has an after-school club on the land, right next door to the school too.
But the catchment school is a very close 5-10 minute walk across the park behind our house.
Like I say, it is probably all a waste of time anyway as there is only one school we will get regardless of choice, and that is the catchment school. At least, through all my strops and panics, I’ve worked it through in my head now and will accept that decision when it comes.