Primary School Places: The Wait Is On...

Before I had Jack I never understood why parents seemed to get in such a flap about primary school places. In my pre-parenthood eyes, a school was a school. Of course some are ranked higher than others but providing your child comes away with a decent education, why does it matter which one they go to? First choices? Appealing decisions? Pfffft.

And now here I am, anxiously counting down the hours until Monday when I already know I'll be hunched over my work computer hitting refresh every 5 minutes, impatiently waiting for the news that will determine where the next seven years of Jack's educational life will be spent; hoping for our first choice and not really knowing what to do if we don't get it.

And I know lots of other parents will be doing exactly the same thing.

Jack's current situation is that he attends two 'settings'. He goes to a nursery (as he has done since he was 9 months old) for the first half of the week while I go to work. This is a private nursery that stays open through the holidays which is obviously helpful for childcare purposes. He also attends the local village preschool on a Thursday and Friday morning during term time. He doesn't need to go there. There are no childcare issues on these days and he's already interacting with children at the other nursery. But although the preschool is a separate entity to the village school, it is located within the same grounds and is made up of local children. Basically I wanted him to go there (and have paid outside of his funded hours for the privilege) so that he could get to know some of the kids he'll eventually go to school with and become familiar with the surroundings.

And while the private nursery is lovely and I'll always be grateful to them for taking such good care of my baby when I had to go back to work, out of the two settings, preschool is where he seems happiest. It is here that he's formed the friendships that he comes home and raves about. Here where the invitations to birthday parties and play dates come from. Here that I have taken the most notice of the faces of kids and parents alike because these will be the faces we'll see everyday come September. It never occurred to me that it would happen any other way. It is a village school. We live in the village. Done deal.

But apparently not. Although being in the catchment area gives him a high chance of getting in, the intake for this year is huge. I remember how there were so many pregnant ladies in the village at the same time as me. I remember thinking how nice it would be for this influx of children to grow up together. I never considered the logistical challenges of school places. Of there simply not being room for them all. And it's worrying. Not only because the school is rated highly, has some great staff and because I'd really like him to go there. But more importantly because he wants to. Because he's made these little friendships that seem to mean a great deal to him. And because whenever we pass the school playground to get to preschool he points and shouts 'I'll be going there soon won't I, Mummy?'

I filled in the forms to the best of my ability. I have my fingers crossed. Soon the results will be in.

Like so many other aspects of parenting, it's only now that I'm faced with these situations that I can fully understand the importance of them. Because they all go some way to shaping his future.

This primary school placement thing is some nerve wracking shit.


  1. Eek! Wishing you the best of luck!
    I was lucky...Years ago when my girls were little starting soon seemed so easy there was no stress. I applied to one school my eldest was automatically accepted and then my youngest automatically got a place because her sister was there.

    1. I honestly never realised how difficult it can be. As I said, I just took it for granted that he'd go to the village school which is why I've been sending him to the preschool for all this time. I don't think it would be an issue if there weren't so many children going up at the same time. It's worrying, I'm keeping everything crossed! x