It could be argued that there are many “most” nerve-wracking times in a parent’s family life, from your child being born, to their first steps, leaving them with someone else and now, waiting to hear about school places for both infant and senior school (I didn't plan that very well did I?)
Aside from having two new lots of uniforms to buy, the stress of actually getting the school place we want hasn’t exactly made us go grey overnight, but it has certainly added to my husband's silver stripes, as my youngest calls them (thanks, princess!) So. Much. Pressure. Will we get our first choice, or even our second or third? Are the horror stories from parents of previous years about massive oversubscription true? Is that red rated school really as bad as Ofsted say and, if so, can we afford private school, because I am quite certain my sanity can’t afford home schooling.
Fed up with the stomach-churning sensation that surely means an ulcer forming, I have come up with a variety of distractions.
- Play School Brag Bingo. Score points for every time you hear a nursery parent confidently name drop a governor they know. Score double points if they know a head teacher.
- Look into the cost of private education. Sit down. Debate whether avoiding a poor school is worth paying off a re-mortgaged house for the rest of your life.
- Investigate the process of home schooling.
- Investigate the cost of hiring a tutor to home school.
- Give evil looks to every old person you see living in catchment area.
- Consider moving.
- Write a list of reasons that “bad” school may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. At least you won’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds for school trips each year.
- Eat cake. Not a new distraction, but a good one all the same.
- Start running. The endorphins exercise release feel almost as good as the smug satisfaction you get from arriving at the school gates in running shoes that have actually seen some action. And it will help negate the effects of that cake
- Try to avoid turning too much to wine for solace. Actually, do what you like - I’m not going to judge (though I bet you a bottle of Prosecco that there will be a parent at the school gates who will. It’s ok, you don’t want your child to play with theirs anyway).
Keep things in perspective. Your child’s life won’t be over if they don’t get into your first choice of school. Life is all about rolling with the punches. Who knows, your child could turn out to be the next Muhammed Ali.
Speaking of keeping things in perspective, I love this letter Harmony Hill Primary School sent pupils recently, reminding them that they are worth more than a grade. Whether or not your child is accepted does not come down to how good a parent you are, but factors largely outside your control.
And in the end, while education IS a serious matter, don't take this blog post too seriously .... well except the bit about cake, I am very serious about that!