Part II: Parental Choice

By Lauren Thomson, SSAT

Hearing that I had failed to secure a place for the twins at my first choice was a hard blow. My Mum said that in her day, parents accepted where children were offered a place. However, I know how my children learn and what they need to thrive. I couldn’t fully come to terms with the fact they were going to a one-form entry school, that I had barely had a feel for and I was sad about that. Naturally I would appeal the decision, which I did, but I had to accept that they were going to my second choice. I reached out to the school and asked for another tour – this was not met with enthusiasm. This further raised my concerns – not only did I not have a feel for the school, I knew a one-form setting was wrong for my two very different children. Eventually, we had another tour of the school and some of my concerns were alleviated. My only hope was that the twins were in first and second places on the waiting list for my first-choice school.

Rose and Charlie are September born and are both ready for school.  Rose needs stimulation and stretch, Charlie has an engineer’s mind and is a problem solver. He will be happy to play for part of the day whereas Rose needs more structure, as she has a thirst for learning (the curriculum at my preferred school offered that – they visit Parliament on field trips and have insect hotels.) The twins interrupt one another, break concentration levels and often depend too much on each other. Rose will talk and worry for Charlie, and Charlie -my Health and Safety man – will worry that Rose would be too adventurous. It is important for them to be able to concentrate on their own learning.

The induction pack came for my second-choice school and it gave me some hope that the twins would be happy there. I cannot say I was happy, but was determined that whatever I did would help the twins to succeed in their different ways. My first-choice school does well academically, but most importantly, it treats every child as an individual, and has a curriculum that provides the knowledge and skills to successfully transition to secondary school and to becoming a young adult.

Just after the May half term, my phone rang and I was informed that the twins had places at my preferred school. I was thrilled and completed all the paperwork needed. I dropped this into the school. Whilst I was there, the Head of School popped out of her office to welcome me. A little later she came out again to spend 30 minutes with me talking about Charlie’s needs, in relation to a medical condition. I can’t tell you how good this contact made me feel. The care and concern were so obvious. I felt welcomed and valued as a parent with an important role in my children’s education.

Lessons Learnt

  1. Do not give up. I had appealed and would have gone through this exercise. I was lucky that a family with twins had moved out of the area. If my appeal had been rejected, I would have persisted. Parental choice is limited.
  2. Communications between schools and parents are critical. I know schools are busy places, but a simple acknowledgement makes you feel better.
  3. Children are individuals not numbers.

Read Part I: Parental Choice

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Part I: Parental Choice

7 June 2024


10 June 2024

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