Changing Schools

People who follow this blog will know the complete fiasco we encountered last year when we didn’t get any of our original school choices. People who follow this blog will remember too the knife in the gut moment when we later realised that this in turn would mean we would not get a place at any of our local secondary schools.

In a nutshell the whole starting primary school thing has been incredibly shit. But despite all that and some initial upset with Alice settling in last year, she now loves school and really enjoys learning as well as being with her friends.

changing-schools

The Offer:

We found out last week that we had a place at another school. Not our local school which is in walking distance (I’ve given up on ever getting in there), but our original second choice which is a  lovely old village school, very small and friendly.

I was completely amazed to get the offer and almost immediately my husband and I felt it was the right thing to do to move Alice. It will still mean we have to drive to school (always one of my biggest bug-bears) but the biggest advantage is that if we move her now she will get a place at the local secondary school which is in walking distance of our house. I can’t believe we even have to think about this when she has only just turned 5 but the thought of going through what we went through last year in another 6 years’ time is unbearable.

This Past Week:

I got the email last Friday and have spent this week in turmoil. I’ve not slept and barely eaten for worrying about how Alice will handle the move. Whilst I feel deep down like we are making the right choice, it doesn’t stop me feeling like the biggest bitch ever for separating her from her friends and the teachers that she loves. She is so happy and settled at the current school. Can I really upset her all over again?

Like most things in life I also got incredibly bogged down in the detail of the process. When would I tell her teacher? When exactly would we tell Alice? When should I mention it to the other mums?  All this and more were keeping me awake every night.

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The Deed

On Wednesday after school we took the girls out for Pizza and before we got out of the car I pitched the idea about moving schools using my most excited, super confident voice wearing my most calm mask.

For a moment Alice seemed quite taken with the idea until she realised it would mean giving up her current school, and she then wasn’t too happy. We managed to distract her with dinner and shopping but at bedtime – reality had hit. As she lay sobbing in her bed I couldn’t help wonder, “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?”

Resentful

I also can’t help but feel incredibly resentful all over again. Why are we seemingly the only people going through this?  Why am I putting my daughter through all this again because the local schools and authorities can’t cope with the pressure of too many people living here and not enough schools? Why does no one seem to care that the individual school rules are unfair and do not join up.

 

Next Week

Alice’s last day at her current school was on Thursday. She took it all in her stride and seemed happy to be handing out sweets to her friends. I on the other hand was an emotional wreck watching her wave goodbye to her teachers and friends as they gave her a fab send off. It really did feel sad and unfair to be uprooting her.

We took her to meet her new teacher and the new school. We were anticipating some upset but was totally surprised that Alice enjoyed looking around the school and talking to her new teacher. After an hour and half we had to drag her away from the amazing outdoor space and play equipment. Sometimes, kids do surprise you. It doesn’t always end up as bad as you think and maybe,  just maybe I have totally underestimated how she will handle this.

Change

I know we are not out of the woods yet and I know that we are bound to have some upset next week when we start at the new school and a new routine.

I know it’s natural for all of us, not just kids, to dread and fear change. I know we need to push ourselves to do things sometimes that are hard and out of our comfort zone.  I need to keep telling myself this next week. I need to remember why we are doing this. I need to keep wearing my happy face and practising my bright and breezy voice. I need to remember that it will get worse, possibly a whole lot worse before it will get better.

Wish us luck for Monday.

Has anyone else changed schools? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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The Ongoing School Debacle

For the past 15 months we’ve been mulling over a problem in our family. A dilemma about what we should do. It’s something that has been gnawing away at us for so long that it’s had a fairly toxic affect on all of us.

Primary School Results

The Initial Saga

15 months ago we were completely shocked and distressed not to get any of our 4 choices of primary school for our eldest daughter. The local school, less than 10 minutes away, which we’d naively assumed we would get into was hugely oversubscribed, to the extent it has never been seen before.  Despite going through an appeal and being on the waiting list, nothing changed. Alice started at our allocated primary school in September. It took her a long time to settle in, but she now seems happy and to be enjoying school for which we are truly grateful.

You might say, well good for you that’s that then. But then came:

The Latest Saga

A few weeks ago, I found out that our local secondary school which is perhaps a 15 minute walk away from our house, has just THIS YEAR decided to change their policy to only admit children from local “feeder”primary schools. Our local primary school counts as a “feeder” school, but our allocated school where Alice now attends is not.

To add insult to injury the secondary school near to where Alice now goes to school confirmed that their policy is to only take children who live in the nearby catchment area (which we are not).

WHAT THE ?!!!  

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

This leaves us once again falling down the gap not fitting into any one particular set of rules or meeting any particular criteria. It means in 5 years’ time as it stands, we will be shunted to a random secondary school miles away.

Whilst it might sound a bit neurotic to be thinking 5 years ahead, I can’t help feeling upset and cross that after all the trouble we experienced last year, we are potentially going to face all again in 5 years’ time.

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Alice on her first day of school Sept 15

The Options

1) We looked at moving house. Drastic? Yes. But needing to take the control of the situation rather than let fate decide where our kids should be educated, we started exploring other areas. I’m not convinced this is the right thing to do. Why should I have to leave my friends and family and start again? And there’s no guarantees that we can move somewhere and get both our children into a school.

2) Move to another feeder school. I’ve given up phoning the local school down the road to find out where we are on the waiting list. It was literally driving me mental to find out that I had on several occasions moved DOWN the list. By chance, I discovered that one of the lovely little village schools on our original list was expanding their school and could take on an extra 10 places per year group. We applied and found out we’d got a place! Woo-Hoo! We were all set to move Alice until I read the admissions policy and found out that they (unlike most primary schools) do not give priority to siblings.

What The ?!!!! 

I mean really?! How is this fair that schools all have a different set of rules?

And so because we are out of catchment for this village school and the council have confirmed exactly how many children live in catchment for when our youngest daughter starts school next year, it looks like we are going to have to turn the place down.

We have stressed ourselves out over this for 15 months now. I have been upset and depressed about the situation as well as feeling  bitter and resentful about the neighbours and community all being able to go to the local school except for us. It particularly hurt when our next door neighbour managed to get a place for their little boy this year at the local school because the sibling and birth rate this year is much lower than last year. We’ve really felt like upsticks and leaving. But every alternative seemingly has more problems to bear.

I’ve written to the local MP, the local authority and the department of education as well as the schools themselves to complain about the situation and the lack of consistency in the admissions criteria. But no one wants to know. Everyone has passed the buck and I’m utterly exhausted and fed up with thinking about and fighting it.

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Alice with Eva in their matching uniform

Trying to Retain some Positivity

About a week ago, I felt a shift in my mood. I don’t know whether it was because we have been fighting and stressing about it all for so long and the fight has now gone out of me. I’ve grown tired of being negative and bitter about our situation. It’s not had a good affect on any of us and I’m particularly aware that our stress could well have been taking its toll on our children.

Or I don’t know whether my mood has changed because I’m aware of just how happy Alice seems at her current school and even better, excited to be going into Year 1 in September, her confidence seems to have come on in abundance since last year.

Whilst I’m still UPSET about the initial and latest saga. Whilst I still WISH we could walk to our local school. Whilst I’m still willing to EXPLORE other possibilities that come up, and whilst I’m still SCARED about what will happen to us in 5 years’ time – being shunted to a random secondary school, I’ve decided to focus on what is important:

That Alice is in a good school

That she is thriving both in terms of her learning and education as well as her confidence and friendships.

I’m sorry for the huge rant! I realise that this post is quite selfish in that it’s cathartic; I’ve totally offloaded but I do feel strangely better for it.

If anyone has any thought or advice, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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