Monday, 5 January 2009


Monday, 5 January 2009
Unbelievably (at least for me) Lia is due to start school this year. 3rd September to be exact (which is co-incidentally DH's name day* so hopefully it's a date he'll remember).

We have to get the application in to the Local Council by 20th February so I'm now going slightly mad looking at School League tables and not really knowing where to start.

That last sentence may seem really strange to those who know where we live because we live next door to a Primary School. Literally, next door. The school buildings occupy the land at the end of our garden and the entrance to it runs down the side of our driveway/garden.

However, it's not the best school around. In fact it's quite low down in the league tables. So I'm now torn with convenience and wanting the best for her. All this is made more difficult by the fact that we live in a town I didn't grow up in so I don't know the schools. I also work in a different town (as does DH) so I don't even work with anyone who knows the schools and Lia is in nursery where I work so nobody there knows the schools as all the other kids will go to the schools in this town.

Hence me going a bit mad trying to get information on the schools. It doesn't help that the 2008 league tables are delayed now until March so I'm working on old data and the new data won't arrive till a month after the application deadline.

So the facts that I have at my disposal are:

1. My brother and I both went to a not-so-great primary school and we did pretty well for ourselves.

2. The school is next door to the house which would be so convenient for dropping off and picking up. Especially for DH as I have our car on work days.

3. We're about 500 yards outside the catchment area of the best school near us.

4. It probably doesn't even matter what school I pick as the Council just allocate as they see fit

The only other piece of the puzzle we haven't considered is Religion. I'm non-religious but DH is Greek Orthodox and Lia was christened GO too. I know there aren't any GO schools around but it may be that we think about Catholic or CofE Schools for her. DH is going to ask at Church this weekend if there is any affiliation between the Greek Church and schools in the area (there is quite a large Greek Community in the town.)

I have briefly considered the option of a fee paying school as the cost would roughly equate to that of her current nursery fees but if we have another child we'll need that money for their nursery fees and if we don't have another child I was hoping we could use the money to overpay our mortgage.

Also, I think that, given both DH and I are pretty intelligent, we are more than able to assist her with things at primary level so it's better to save our money now and consider a fee paying Secondary school if it comes to it (the closest Secondary school to us is REALLY not one I'd like to see her attending).

Honestly, as I keep telling friends who are having their first babies and who can't see beyond the worry of giving birth, it's nothing compared to the decisions one has to make once the child is here...

*In Greece you have a Name Day that is generally viewed as more important than your birthday - it's the day of the Saint whose name you have, so if you're called George your Name Day would be 23rd April (although that's a crappy choice because they have tendency to move name days around Easter so they don't get in the way, so George's all over Greece often have their Name Day moved). However, anyone who doesn't have a birthday around Easter has a set Name Day and, as mentioned above, DH's is 3rd September.


karenv said...

I can't believe Lia is nearly old enough to be at school!

Good luck with your decision.

Ginnie said...

As an ex primary school teacher who is against league tables! Don't just judge the school by them!! I would go with the place that feels right, go and look around several during the day to see what a normal day is like. Hopefully one will shine out as the "right" one.

Sheila said...

I like Ginnie´s advice, although everything you said also makes sense.

Shebafudge said...

Hi Lindsay.

As a teaching assistant I say the same as Ginnie. Don't forget the league tables don't tell you anything about the quality of the teachers. The school my 2 are at used to more or less top the league table but when the school next door closed with a HUGE special needs register many of the chldren came to us. This meant that as these children were lower achievers because of various learning difficulties they may have, our school slipped down the league table. The teachers are still just as good and many of the chlildren have made huge progress but it only measures those that reach a certain level. Don't be put off by a school with a large number of SEN children because if the support is in place for these children you can often find the class has a few extra adults many of whom are just as good at teaching as the teachers but don't have the degree to prove it. Go and have as look at as many as you can. Have a look at what sort of work is on the wall, whether the children seem engaged and if the teachers are talking more to you or Lia. At the end of the day they need to be more interested in Lia than you!! Ofsted reports can be worth a read too but often a school only lets the inspector see what they want them to see and people are primed to keep up the pretence.

Sorry this turned into an essay!!

Anonymous said...

As a mother to 5 I understand how you feel. I took my children out of school because the local primary school was so bad. My advise is to talk to people who have children in school now. They will know far more about the schools than any inspector.

I also think that if you are interested in your child you can make up for any dificencies in their primary education. I think it's more important that your child is happy at school. No child learns if they are miserable.

A schools policy on bullying is very important in my opinion. Some head teachers still believe that bullying doesn't happen in their schools. Avoid those schools like the plague. I am not saying that your daughter will be bullied but schools that have an active treatment of bullying tend to have a better atmosphere.

I hope you don't mind me writing this "essay" but I have been reading your blog for a long time and really like you. I feel for you because I know that this decision is a hard one for any parent to make and there isn't a lot of help from the education department.

Good luck to you and your husband.



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