The dreaded letter dropped through the door early December and I have been putting off submitting my entry but holding back the tears I have finally done it!
It only seems about a year ago that I gave birth to R but he's no longer the tiny, snuffly, bundle of sleepiness we brought home, he will be going to 'Big Boy School' this September which makes me incredibly sad.
I've mentioned in a previous blog about other people infuencing my children and about me (& Mr L of course) being the only people to 'mold' them and teach them all they know so letting him go out into the big wide education world that I can't provide him, makes me feel physically sick. Of course all influences up until now have been vetted by us, usually family and trusted friends, so letting people I don't know (including children that haven't been approved [LOL]) is really scary. If I had the knowledge, qualifications, time and patience I would teach my children at home. Sadly, I know they will gain so much more than I can ever teach them under a structured education system which also makes me sorrowful because I feel I have failed as a parent!
The whole process seems so daunting but actually it was very easy. Most of the schools in our town organise 'Open' days for such occasion, and if they didn't they were all very welcoming in meeting at our convenience to show us around their establishments.
Even though, according to Essex County Council, 'catchment' areas do actually still apply, many people are prepared to travel by what ever means to get their children to their preferred school and if there is a place at the selected school I guess you are just lucky. For me, not having a car all the time, my selections were pretty much already made for me but I still insisted on viewing the schools I thought would be suitable for R as I felt I couldn't send him to somewhere without looking around and seeing what he would be up to for myself.
So my form says I need to make 4 choices (altough talking to friends it has only been 3 in the past) and after looking at 2 of the 3 schools I would be able to get to fairly easily I had decided on a school which is a little bit further but felt for the small classroom sizes and location it was worth it. Having since thought about it more, it makes more sense for me to put my first choice down as the school he currently attends the Nursery of for convenience around Mr L's shifts and my DD 'E' will hopefully be attending the Nursery by September so I can't really be in 2 places at once!!
Many of my friends are quite worried about the selection process as it seems to be quite random when it comes to a minority of cases as the 'catchment' areas certainly seem to stretch to places we didn't think they would. I know there is one particular school in our town that has quite a bad reputation when it comes to caring for children with additional needs and although it doesn't have a very good OFSTED report. I have a couple of friends who either have children there in Reception or will be starting this year who seem perfectly happy with the set up and will progress just as well there as anywhere else. There were also a few stories we heard about after last years submissions that were both good and bad so it really does just depend on luck although my theory is that if you haven't written a certain school on your application and you get allocated a place there, you have a better chance at apealling your case as you haven't said you were happy for your child to go there. If, however you lose an appeal, I'm sure there is a process of applying directly to your preferred school after the new term begins to see if they have a place for your child.
So I have submitted my application and I will be one of the Mums waiting up until midnight on the 17th April for an e-mail to tell me what school R got in to. The suspense is literally killing me!!!
I will then have to go through it all again next year as E will be starting in 2014, somehow I feel more relaxed about her.....that might have changed by this time next year!!