Part I: Parental Choice

By Lauren Thomson, SSAT

An important job for any parent is choosing their child’s primary school. It is the start of their schooling journey and one in which you want them to develop a love of learning. Parents want their child to be safe and happy in school. Every parent has a concern that their child might be bullied or that they will not be known to teachers. If you have twins or triplets, who are very different, and you want them educated in separate classes, it is even more of a worry.

School tours started in Oct 23 for the Sept 24 intake, I live in an area that has a lot of faith schools and I found that we failed the first criteria for most of the ‘good’ schools. The twins were ‘lockdown babies’ and were not baptised. Luckily, the CofE school I wanted the twins to go to did not have baptism as a criteria, but a requirement was that I must attend church for a minimum of 12 months. I had studied their website from head to toe, read every governor minute and I think I read the admissions policy at least 10 times.

Working at SSAT for over 15 years has meant that I have learnt that primary really does matter and choosing the right school for two very different children was something very important to me – and a big challenge! The school had to be right, it had to suit both of their needs – Charlie, a typical boy and less mature, has an engineer’s mind and the extra-curricular activity ‘young engineers’ sprung off the page. For Rose, my more focused and mature child, – debate class. The next Greta Thumberg. I drew up a list of my requirements for the primary school and read all the materials I could get on all of the schools. I took Sue Williamson, our CEO and education expert, along for support.

Our first school tour was brilliant. The school is rated ‘outstanding’, heavily oversubscribed and I was number five on the admissions criteria. I said to Sue, this is the one. She agreed and said “that I needed a miracle to get them in.” I considered that 2019 was a low birth rate year and that lots of their pre-school friends had got in on lower criteria the previous year. I thought I had made my choice of school – but later I learnt that actually I had very little choice in where the twins were going. It is very much a numbers game rather than a ‘love match.’

I knew I wanted the twins separated in different classes. Our catchment school (which wasn’t our closest school) was one-form entry. I had an unfortunate visit, a child in the EYFS classroom was sick and meant we could not view the setting. I did put this school as my second choice, but there was no way I was sending my children to a school that I felt uncomfortable with.

School applications had to be submitted by the 15 January and school places were announced on 15 April. These dates were ingrained in my brain; it felt like an eternity waiting to find out. I didn’t get my first choice. It was a huge blow.

Lessons Learnt

  1. I should have started investigating primary schools earlier – the year before the twins were due to go. I certainly should have started talking to the ‘Mums’ Network’ earlier.
  2. On school visits, it is very important to listen as well as ask questions. Also to focus on how the children are engaging with the staff.
  3. Don’t give up, but make sure you have a Plan B!

Read Part II: Parental Choice

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Part II: National Service – A Personal Viewpoint

4 June 2024

Part II: Parental Choice

7 June 2024

NEW Associate Membership

Want to receive monthly education news, updates, tools and resources? Exclusive invitations to interesting events? And did we mention it's free? Sign up to our associate membership eNewsletter now.