Keeping Our Cool When It Comes To School
So, it's done. If your offspring was born between September 1 2013 and August 31 2013 you'll have just submitted your school applications at the beginning of this week. Most of you, I'm sure will have been a shit tonne more organised that Team Sims were and perhaps have got your applications in a lot earlier. Whatever your approach to getting your kid into an establishment of education...it's now signed, sealed and soon to be delivered.I want you to know, in general, I'm pretty good at not stressing out about things that I have no control over. Don't worry, I'm very good and jumping off lots of other emotional, bat-shit crazy cliffs but when it comes to stuff like that, I'm like, "Erm. Ok. Let me know when it's all over and then we'll figure that shit out.'
I really tried to be like that with schools because my rational brain knew that, in reality, I had absolutely no say over what school Billie went to. Sure, we went to look at a load of them and asked all the right questions and made a list of six that we liked and put them in order and filled in that electronic form and sent it off to the gods of admissions but that didn't mean shit. Sure they have to offer you a school place, but it doesn't have to be one of your six so, you know, what's the point in sending yourself around the bend?
Except that we did. And I'm sure you did too. I couldn't go to a playgroup or a ballet class without someone bringing up schools and telling me what schools they were looking at and asking me what schools we were looking at and discussing how stressful it is trying to get your kid into the 'right' school. I didn't want to have those conversations but everybody else did and it just felt a bit weird shouting, "Can you all shut the fuck up about fucking schools and can we just go back to discussing how shit being a parent is?"
So, I sat there and, because I didn't want to look like a crazy mama-mute, I joined in and you know what? It freaked me the fuck out. I'd come home and immediately say to Jimmy, 'We need to see more schools, we need to read more reports! Apparently they review schools on Mumsnet...who the fuck knew there was anything vaguely useful on there!" (Spoiler: those reviews on Mumsnet are not useful.) I'd make him sit down and read Ofsted reports that all sounded the same and research catchment areas and all the bloody rest of it. I drove us both mental.
Then it came to actually listing the schools and you know what occurred to me? It didn't bloody matter. I don't mean to sound blasé about my kids education but in reality, this is what I know for sure:
She's going to go to a school
If we love that school, fucking brilliant
If we don't love that school, we'll move her
It's not that important
WHAT??? I hear you say? It's not that important?
Yes. Really. It's not that important. Most schools are pretty damn fine. Sure some might have bright and shiny Ofsted reports, but in my experience as a teacher (5 years, inner city London) I know that Ofsted reports are often as reliable as Southern Rail and what really, really matters is how you feel when you walk into a school. You know your kid; if you walk into a school and think your kid will be happy there and you get a good vibe from it then your kid will be happy there.
There are only three things that a primary school needs to do:
Teach them some shit
Make them some friends
Teach them not to be a dick
Also, they've got you as parents so, you know, they're already doing pretty fine.