Yesterday, March 1st 2013, was National Secondary Schools Offers Day.
For those of you who don’t have a child in, or approaching, Year 6 the importance of the day probably passed you by completely.
But parents who have been through this process already spent the day thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t have to do it again, and simply watched as Year 6 parents all over the country exhibited signs of extreme stress while constantly checking their inboxes. And I’m guessing there were a few year 5 parents who were quaking in their boots while considering the situation they were going to find themselves in in a year’s time.
But if you were like us, with a child in year 6, then yesterday was the result of a lot of planning and in a number of cases, a year or so of studying.
For lots of the present year 6 parents in our area, their children’s journey toward secondary school had started at least 18 months previously, with tutoring for the 11+ or exams for independent schools. We don’t have Grammar schools in the area but we do have a number of selective schools in surrounding counties that offer a handful of places to our postcode. And even if you decide not to tutor and chose to apply for one of the local, mostly good, comprehensives, then the checking out of schools and going to open days has to take place a couple of months before you submit your final application forms by the end of October.
In our area we were allowed to list 6 schools in order of preference. DD had sat the 11+, and preferred a selective school involving a complicated 60 minute commute so, after a fair bit of deliberation, we put this as our first choice. Second choice was our nearest good comprehensive; this was the closest thing to a ‘sure thing’ that we had. Third and fourth on our list were another couple of good local schools but too far from us to have a chance of a place. We listed them anyhow, but declined to list a 5th or 6th choice.
Once we had filled in our application forms online, we had four months of twiddling our thumbs before Offers Day on the 1st of March rolled around. The first couple of months included the lead up to Christmas and zipped past. January was full of birthdays and parties and February included half term. Suddenly we only had one week left.
Then it was the day itself.
I watched the offers roll in in other counties; some areas sent out the emails just after midnight. Other people woke up at 6 am with offers in their inboxes but we were part of London and would have to wait until at least 5pm.
I had planned to get out of the house but ended up stuck indoors with a 5 year old with a tummy bug instead. Usually the 6 hours between drop off and pick up fly by. Yesterday they didn’t, they dragged. I sat in front of the computer pretty much all day and watched people post about getting their 1st, 2nd or no choices. There were happy parents and disappointed parents and others who wondered if they’d made a mistake in their ranking. I did the school run , stretched my legs and then returned to my chair. DD got home from her netball game just before 5pm.
The message on the eadmissions site instructed people to wait until they had an email from the council before logging onto the site. But I had already decided to ignore this and logged on at regular intervals just to check our offer wasn’t suddenly there. Until 5pm it wasn’t.
But someone must have had the job of chief button presser while the rest of the council staff scarpered for the door, because at 5 on the dot, the words ‘View the outcome of application and respond’ appeared at the bottom of the screen. I know I should have called DD over first but I didn’t, I wanted to prepare myself if the news was bad. Once I’d checked, then I called her over.
She’d got her first choice and was thrilled. First she screamed like a banshee, then she did a little victory dance. Finally she hugged me.
Our 11+ journey was at an end and it had all been worth it.