So, next month we find out if we passed. By which I mean, we get told which school has given Bean a place for September.
At no point in the run up to making these decisions, the planning, the pregnancy, the first two years of his life, did I ever imagine just how stressful choosing a school would be. We live in an area I do not want to live in and this always made me nervous about choosing a school. The catchment school is not where I would like Bean to go.
At one point, we thought of sending him to the local private school. The thought was both appealing and appalling in equal measure. I’ve always been very suspicious of private education, and as a bit of a lefty teacher, I never thought I would consider sending my own child to a private school. But I did. Until I read the Ofsted report, and spoke to some people whose opinions I trust. It was generally agreed that this particular school would be A Mistake.
Back to square one. I wanted almost anything but a run of the mill primary for Bean. He’s a bright lad, very bright indeed and ahead of the game in many areas. I didn’t want him to go somewhere he would stagnate. We seriously considered home education, but it’s just not viable for us if we also want a home in which to educate. Steiner schools were looked at, but the nearest one was just too far away to be feasible.
I went on a course run by the exam board I use, and got chatting to someone who taught in a Quaker school. It sounded perfect. I loved everything I heard. I researched them. I was pretty much sold. But there are only 7 in the UK, and the nearest one is over an hour away. Boarding is not something I could consider. We didn’t go to enormous lengths and considerable cost to have a baby only to send him away from home.
I couldn’t believe how stressful I found it all. I was lying awake at night, wondering how on earth we could find the right solution.
In the end, it seems we may have found the solution almost on our doorstep. A state primary school that we like. Ofsted likes them too (I don’t put too much store by an Ofsted report, but there are useful insights in there). Parents like it. It’s a feeder school for the school I work at, and staff at my school speak highly of it. The students in my tutor group who have just come from there loved it. Bean goes there two mornings a week at the moment, to the nursery and loves it. The Gifted and Talented provision there was rated outstanding. Perfect!
Too perfect? Maybe. We’re not in the catchment area. We not in the catchment area by a sizeable amount. Bean has no siblings there, no special educational needs, or anything else that might give him a claim on a place. He does have two very good friends who also attend the nursery; they all started together, on the same day, already firm friends, as they had all attended the same private day nursery for the past year. Somehow I don’t think that will be enough. His friends both have siblings at the school, and so I suspect they will have no problem getting a place. As the date gets nearer, I get more anxious about his future.