Changing where you child goes to school is even worse!
Rationally there is no way that just this one choice will be the making or breaking of them. But for some reason we become complete nutters when bewildered by choices, social pressure, decisions between private vs state schools and ghosts from our own experiences.
I’ll never pay for primary I said!
I was always a big fan of state primary, it seemed daft to pay for something that was available for free. But never say never!
When you are pregnant you just don’t look at schools as much as the older parents advise you to. So although there were ‘problems’ with the local state school Bowmansgreen, there were plenty more around, so we didn’t think twice about it and moved into a new quite ‘posh’ estate in a ‘village’ called London Colney (it’s more like a suburb to St Albans).
Then the baby boom hit.
Panic and the rush for a Private school
Bowmansgreen was my only option and although it had a new headmistress with a great reputation, but she hadn’t sorted the problems out yet.
To be honest there’s not a lot of ‘problems’ where we live, but there are two little areas of the village where there are definite big problems. Of course within those two areas are great and lovely families. However a select few make a big impression, and it just so happens that I live quite near one of these areas.
I just wasn’t willing to let my ‘golden haired boy’ be an experiment that might go wrong – rightly or wrongly.
So along with my whole crescent I panicked. I was late in preparing Curly Headed Boy and competition for private schools near London is intense. He was lucky to get a place and so off he went to a private school called Radlett Prep. (A prep school is one that is specifically preparing kids for getting into good private secondary schools).
After a few settling in problems he seemed to really start to enjoy it. The school is very old fashioned, and hard core; but then most of the private schools are tough. But it was always very clear what you were getting from them; maths and english. Pretty much just that.
However, there was one problem. I knew he was imaginative, creative and artistic, but apparently he is also bright, so the school just wouldn’t let him relax; after all he was a prime candidate for good results. It wasn’t just the school either, as there were some kids who were ‘unusually competitive’; I’m talking critiquing his spelling, writing, reading and speech.
He said he was fine. But I was worried that the ‘real him’ was getting squashed. Plus he looked tired, really really tired and developed nervous ticks.
(Now don’t get me wrong; this is not a criticism of private schools as some of the kids were really thriving under the structure and pressure. It’s very much a case of me not being sure that it suited my child, that is all. Plus there are different types of private school; it’s just that he didn’t get into those ones).
The universe offers up an excuse
Then the big hairy northern one was made redundant. I gave notice immediately ‘just incase’ he didn’t get a job quickly as previously he was off work for over a year.
I talked about not wanting him to choose a job just to pay for schooling; which I think shocked some parents, whose priorities are much more academic than mine and would sacrifice everything for their children’s education.
After 4 months the hairy one got a job, but I said that it was just a contracting job so it wasn’t secure enough for Curly Headed Boy to stay.
I went back to doing the school run and realised that I dreaded it; what should be 20mins was a 1.5hr round trip in the morning and 1hr round trip in the afternoon.
Then as we started to talk about the fact that he might have to change schools my son started to admit that he wanted to change schools, because all he ever did was ‘work’. Even football classes and P.E. were ‘work’. He’s in year 1 (6 years old); I started to have big concerns about where the ‘fun’ was in his learning.
Just incase I considered changing my mind, one of the senior teachers was very grumpy when she discovered he was definitely leaving and they were losing a cheque. There was no ‘we’re going to miss your son so much etc etc, hope everything gets more settled for you soon and maybe we’ll see you back here’.
How ironic, after all that panic we had the choice between a small village school about 10 mins drive away with just one class per year and the local school Bomansgreen (2 classes per year in comparison to Radlett Prep which is 3 classes per year).
Remember the new head with a good reputation? She’s not daft at all. She did a resounding sales job on Curly Headed Boy, and so he picked Bowmansgreen.
So he’s just started at our local school in term 3 of year 1 and can now walk to school (unless it’s pissing it down, because I’m a wimp!).
He gets school dinners (it was packed lunch at Radlett), free morning snacks and encouraged to try different fruits in govt campaigns. There’s loads more art, lots of time on the computer (maybe too much!), no drama but lots of music, and I got to see him in his school assembly with him dressed as a flower (oh yes, there were tears!)
Two weeks in and I can see the stress falling off my son, although Little Dimples seems unimpressed if her tantrums to and from have been anything to go by!
There are some problems with fitting in with the kids and it is VERY different; but he’s pragmatic about it and we’ll tackle it. His emotions have been very up and down with the nerves and excitement, but he is adamant that he is happier.
He might be a bit bored and ahead, but they have already changed his view of reading and he is now reading books for fun, which I’m really chuffed about.
Most of all I’ve come to understand that I want my children to have rich lives, and that academic qualifications don’t necessarily create a full life.
So the story continues …… I’ll let you know how we do!
I’d love to hear if you’ve made similar decisions to move your children at any time?