Lately, we’ve had to make not just one, but two school decisions for our children.
Sometimes these choices seemed impossible, other times they looked clear cut. But then something would happen or I’d get a bit of new information, and my perspective would change. One day I’d be convinced that we were definitely making the right decision and the next, I’d have come to the conclusion that we were about to embark on a course leading to psychological damage and educational disaster for our kids.
To say I was in two minds would be an understatement. I was trying to choose between schools for 2 children, so most of the time I was in at least 4 minds.
DS has Verbal Dyspraxia, so we had to choose between the mainstream school my DD’s already attend, and another school that had a language unit attached to it. The mainstream school is 5 minutes walk from our house, the Language unit school is 2 miles away. We were told transport could be arranged for our son, but I couldn’t get my head around putting my 4 year old on a bus to send him to school. I wanted to take him myself but if I did that I would have to arrange someone else to drop off and pick up the girls, and I didn’t want to do that either.
However, the language unit school is in the same Borough as us, our local school is not. It appeared that if DS went to the nearest school, he would no longer be eligible for NHS funded speech therapy, and we’d have to hire a private speech therapist ourselves.
Although I preferred our local school, I resolved to look around the other one with an open mind. This was harder to arrange than I’d expected. The school my DD’s go to welcomes people who want to view it and arranges a visiting time convenient for the visitor. The other school had an open day a term and their attitude seemed to be ‘if you can’t make it, tough titties’. Of course, neither of the days/times were suitable so I never got a chance to look around, which did make me a little prejudiced against it.
In the end, despite the thought of forking out for a private ST, we went for our local school. But I worried a little that I had put the wants of the family ahead of DS’s needs.
Yesterday we went to a transitioning meeting with school staff, nursery staff, the speech therapist and the borough’s inclusion officer. It was a thorough meeting but at the end of it I felt 110% sure that we’ve made the right decision for DS and the rest of the family in choosing the school we have. He will get the support he needs and still be able to walk to school with his sisters in the morning. What more could we ask?
And at the meeting I learnt that our Borough has changed its Speech And Language Therapy policy so that reception kids will access the one to one therapy they need out of school, so they can be treated no matter which school they attend. And the school with the language unit has now cut its funding for an on site therapist for next year; I would have been completely gutted if I’d made the choice to send DS there on that basis.
It just goes to show, you should always listen to your heart in these situations.
And on that note, we move on to our second schooling decision; which secondary school for DD1?
We’ve now have a plan but haven’t actually applied for the schools, as the applications aren’t open yet. For DD1, my heart said I want her to to be happy, as well as successful. I don’t want her to have to be working every hour that god sends just to get into a school; although I have no doubt she would do well in a very academic secondary school as she really applies herself in the classroom.
We’ve decided not to sit the exams for the school that is further away from us despite DD1 having a reasonable chance of getting in. She’s done very well this year, at school and with her tutor, but she feels that an hours commute to school each day is just too far. And I don’t blame her, it sounds like hell.
DD is a hard worker and really pushes herself to work hard at school, I’m not sure that a super academic school would be good for her mental health. I’d rather she went somewhere where she can do some extra curricular activities and have a social life instead of endlessly travelling too and from school.
We will have a crack at the other super selective as it’s not as far away and I can get up there for school meetings or if she’s sick. But we’ve decided that we are quite happy for her to go to our closest local secondary. Last year 73% of its pupils achieved 5+ A* to C grades for their GCSEs, and 30+% got A-A* so she should be able to do well there if she’s so inclined.
In the meantime, she’s going to continue to work on her 11+ stuff over the summer and we’ll see how her exams go in the summer. I want her to be motivated but I don’t want her feeling stressed about the 11+.
After all, it’s not the be all and end all, especially for a girl who can get such an amazing school report. I really do believe that she’ll do well where ever she goes.