Monday, 9 November 2015

do you know where you're going to?

Copyright: <a href=''>dirkercken / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the thoughts as the family took tentative steps onto new ground : visiting schools during open evening season. Fired up I was determined to search and destroy through every school in order to ensure our first born was given what she deserved. 

After a trip to the first school  I noticed BigL hanging back behind me; questions posed by highly enthusiastic teachers were bounced to me via her anxious eyes. This wasn't like her at all - the usual defiance and independence had somehow disappeared.  I thought little of it until GeordieLad took her to the next school open evening and was pleased to be regaled with tales aplenty of gruesome science experiments and the like. Completely different he said - couldn't hold her back, asking questions, getting involved. 

It became apparent that I was the difference between the two visits. Without meaning to, my stress levels and teacher-parent angst was spilling over into her experience. Friends may not have agreed with my decision to leave the rest of the school visits to GeordieLad and BigL (after all as a teacher surely I would recognise the signs of a good school vs a bad one?); but I realised that this wasn't about me. Look at my second sentence at the start of this post - there was absolutely no way I could hold back those feelings - that's who I am (no apologies - it comes in so very useful at other times) but I needed to back down and let these evenings be BigL's event. I think being teacher-me, somehow, got in the way of being parent-me; for her and for me. Plus I could check out the schools myself on open mornings. 

Anyhoo six rounds of schools visited and laden down with a forest full of prospectus packs she was done. Decisions discussed and ranked in order. So off she went to France with the school and here we were stuck with the online application.

The primary school process seemed a doddle so I thought I'll knock this out in half an hour ready for a glass of wine in front of the telly before I knew it.

Not so.

What a palaver. I can't even bear to relive it here. Suffice to say here are some nuggets of advice from my experience.

1. Keep your username and password close by - it's not something you'll ever remember and the amount of times the damn thing logs you out, you'll be calling it out in your sleep.

2. Save and save and save. Every time you stop to have a think about anything. Save. After re-reading and retyping our reasons for preferring the chosen school (optional) the system had kicked us out without warning and we lost all our prose.

3. Read each school's admission guidelines prior to starting the application and don't be naive enough to think each school within a borough or city would be as daft enough to have the same guidelines. Ha. We didn't - and hour one online passed slowly.

4. Have any arguments about which school should go at number 3 and 4 (or 5 and 6) before you log in. School admission systems do not wait for parental conflict, they just log you out. Wine was now poured despite being mid-application.

5. Hire a writer to scribe your (optional) reasons for choosing preferred school. That way you won't sound like a crawling licky-bum type arty-farty parent who will bully their way onto the school governors' board, when all you want to say is - "look you have a great school, my kid's great and I think they'll do really well at your school so please, please, please take her". Failing that type it out on a word document, save it, leave it a day, come back to it, pop it on the application form, SAVE it and forget about it until March.

By the way this whole October application, response in March deal. I wonder if I can apply for compensation for the amount of wine and chocolate I will consume in that time in order to 'forget' about said process?

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