Wednesday, 17 April 2013
School Allocation Day
I remember exactly where I was when I found out about eldest's allocation. Driving home from a conference in Sheffield, I had pulled into the motorway services and was sitting in the driver's seat, sick to my stomach with an equal measure of anticipation and dread, trying to access my emails on my mobile, using something which vaguely passed for an internet signal, but was pretty patchy.
Thankfully, eldest got her first choice, although even after allocations I continued to question whether we had made the right decision and chosen a school which would be a good fit for her, despite being happy with our choice - you've got to love parenting guilt!
Personally, I don't think that the task of choosing a school does get easier the second time around. Even though the natural choice is typically the same school as your eldest child goes to, different schools suit different children, and so there can sometimes be that nagging doubt as to whether a school will be able to nurture a child with a completely different personality to the first, and whether your second child will thrive as well in the school, living in the shadow of the first.
I think it depends on the personality of the child, and how happy you are with the school, whether you would decide to send your kids to the same school, or to different ones. I always remember a boy at my school, who had a twin. Both twins went to separate schools as the mother wanted them to be seen as individuals rather than a pair - an interesting concept. After a lot of contemplation about youngest's school application, we opted for the same school as eldest is at, as youngest's outgoing personality means that she should be able to hold her own and form her own identity within the school, rather than just being someone's sister.
Once the application has been made, I don't think that the wait gets any easier either. I have been just as nervous between January and April this time, as I was a couple of years ago. Although as our school is not highly over-subscribed, I am not anticipating that there would be a reason she wouldn't get in, However, one can never be certain until allocation day.
For anyone receiving school allocations this week, I really feel for you! If you don't receive your first choice on allocation day, then don't lose hope, as circumstances change between now and September. People may move, change their choice of school, opt to go via the private/independent system, or may decide not to take up the place for a number of reasons. You can also lodge an appeal for a place and fight through the panel.
The best piece of advice I can give having gone though it before, is that if you really want a certain school, (or a safety net), stay on the continuing interest list of the school's you were interested in. Even though we were happy with our choice of school, being complete school novices, and taking a gamble on a school we knew nothing about (and which doesn't report results as it is so small) we wanted to have a "safety net" and so kept eldest's name on the continuing interest list of two schools we had also wanted her to go to. A place finally came up for her at one of the schools, towards the end of her reception year. I had kept open the flexibility to move her, and had I wanted to, I could have, and would have, although we eventually decided that the grass wasn't necessarily greener at this supposed "outstanding" school, and so she stayed where she was. However, it was reassuring to know that we could have moved her to a different school if we were not happy with the first.
Good luck to all of those receiving their school allocations this week. For those in the local LEA, I too will be on tenterhooks at 6pm. I hope that you all get the school you were hoping for!!!