There are but a few things in my experience of the education system that I have found stressful: Secondary school entrance exams were stressful, A Level exams were stressful, navigating UCAS and trying to speak to a human you can understand at Student Finance were both stressful. These, however, pale in comparison to the nightmare that is the primary school application process.
I have just completed W’s application and am now perusing holiday destinations so that I can recover. If you live in London you can choose up to 6 primary schools for your application which is the most terrifying ordeal I have had the misfortune to experience. Here is a summary of everything I considered during the time which led to the being my 11th (and hopefully final) version of the primary school application:
- how do you apply? I knew I had to apply but there weren’t any info letters or leaflets hanging about and so my research brought me to the eadmissions website, where you have to create an account.
- the OFSTED report doesn’t reflect what I’ve heard about the school, should I panic now or later? I visited as many schools as I could, I wanted to give some schools a chance (not all deserved it!) and some of the outstanding schools I found to be uncaring and uninspiring, so it does really depend on what fits you, your family and of course your child.
- what about SEN? W is recognised to have SEN but they aren’t considered ‘exceptional needs’ so he didn’t fall into this priority category which meant I had to consider how inclusive the schools that I was looking at were for a child like him to be supported as fully as possible
- how likely are we to get it? I don’t think we have a chance to get into any of our chosen schools by location, I’m hoping for luck and maybe a low number of applicants just because we live in an awkward area that borders three boroughs and we are closer to some primary schools on the other side of the river (as the crow flies) which would be logistical nightmares to get to every morning
- is he ready? not in the slightest, socially yes he is more than ready, he was premature, he has SEN and though he is more than capable intellectually; he struggles to communicate ideas, to organise his body productively and his developmental delays, although minor, will cause issues when he is grappling with reading and writing. and he is still 3, it’s crazy to be thinking about where he will be this coming September
- am I gambling with his future? wherever he ends up will no doubt have an impact on his educational future, and it’s difficult to predict whether this will be a negative or positive experience for him
There is also documented evidence to be provided in terms of DOB, address, parental responsibility, supplementary forms (for most faith schools) and other things that may need to be ‘proven’.
There are alternatives of course:
- Private education (Independent schools)
- International schools (American, Lycée etc.)
- Alternative education (think small schools, democratic schools, Waldorf/Steiner or Montessori schools)
- Home education
What path we will be taking, shall be decide April 18. Until then, who knows what the future holds…