Thursday, 23 July 2015

School Politics Before School's Even Started

And so it begins.

With the school year finished and the new ones starting in six short weeks, my thoughts have turned to the politics of "Getting your Child Into The Right School".

I didn't choose to enter into these politics; I was forced into them kicking and screaming, in my refusal to think about the next stage for my eldest, by a really good friend who knows someone who knows someone who works in the appeals process; I don't want to be in that situation, I'm told.

Of course they're absolutely right, but the advice given to me was this - make tactical choices.  Pick too many great, in-catchment area schools and you end up in a bad, out-of-catchment area school that no one else wants to go to.

Huh?  How does that work?

I'm told that because there are so many good schools where we live (which naturally helped us choose the area we wanted to live in), being in catchment area means sweet FA.  Nada.  There will be families living out of catchment that have other circumstances that will come above us should 'over-subscription' happen - and I'm reliably informed that it will if we apply to a local, good school.  Catchment area means very little these days where we are.

For example, in our local schools admission criteria, being in the catchment area is sixth on a list of seven criteria for admission.  It seems because we are good parents, haven't needed social services involvement, aren't on benefits and we are applying for a place for a child without older siblings, we will struggle to get a place for our son at a school that is so local, it's a five minute walk away.

This confuses me.  We are a bog standard family.  Two working parents, two kids, one mortgage.  Yet this makes it difficult for our son to go to the local, Ofsted Good (we aren't even talking outstanding here) school.  So I've been advised I need to look out of catchment, at good schools that aren't over subscribed.  So, prey tell, how do I find these school?  Yes, that's right. Hours and hours of googling, when I should be using those hours being the good parent I'm trying to be that's keeping our son out of the local school.  And it seems these great, non-oversubscribed schools are just an urban myth.

I'm flabbergasted and dreading what the next few months hold as we apply for those seemingly scarce school places.

And I'm completely stunned at finding myself ringing the City's public boys school to see about their admission policy.  Despite all the tax we as a family have paid over the years, it seems that to get my child the education he deserves I'm having to spend an extra £10k per year to get it.

So in true playground fashion, as I route around down the back of the sofa for the public school registration fee, you'll find me whining 'Why is it so unfair!'.

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