Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Assessment time

A while ago, I posted about my dilemma over schools and whether to put Littleboy 1 down for any just in case our US plans fell through. Well so far, they haven't fallen through - unless anything untoward happens, we'll be moving in the summer - but I had after all filled in the form for a local private school, as well as applying for state ones via the council website. After all, nothing seems to be certain in these uncertain times....

So the day of Littleboy 1's 'assessment' at the private school arrived a few weeks ago, and off we went. The school that I had opted for is a very academic one, so they select children on 'academic potential'. How the hell they can do this with a bunch of three year olds beats me, but at any rate I didn't get to see how, because they take the children off for over an hour in order to achieve it.

Afer Littleboy 1 was led away by a kindly lady with a scary-looking clipboard, I was left to chat to the other parents, both prospective and those who currently had children at the school, over tea and biscuits.

And it was here that my half-arsed attempt to apply for schools let me down. "So what other schools are you applying to?" enquired one mother. "Oh, er, just this one actually. And the local state schools," I replied. She looked at me as if I were completely and utterly mad. "Well, haven't you thought about X Hall? Or Y prep? (she mentioned two other local prep schools). It's very academic here, you know, it doesn't suit everyone."

Not wanting to go into the details of my position as regards moving abroad, or the fact that I had only gone to one Open Day, I said, "Er, not really....I just liked the look of this one". I then (foolishly) added that I had failed to put his name down for any schools at year dot, and one good thing about this particular one was that you only had to apply a few months beforehand. (Which is true, because when Littleboy 1 was small, I assumed that we would have moved by now and would live near to a decent state school.) But she stared at me again as if I was the most irresponsible, clueless parent out, who had clearly not undertaken the required amounts of research, before swiftly moving on to talk to someone else.

I moved on to chat to another group of parents. They weren't talking about the school at all (thank God) but having a lovely natter about ski-ing, with everyone raving about how wonderful it is that you can fly from City Airport now to the Alps. (No signs of the economic crisis here, I noted.) I mentioned that we were thinking of driving down overnight with our two small children when we go ski-ing this spring. Oh dear- more incredulous looks...

Another Mummy got very over- excited when I mentioned that my son has a summer birthday. "Oh, but that's brilliant, because they get POINTS for being younger, he'll start off with TEN POINTS already in the assessment." (I had visions of Littleboy 1 donning the yellow jacket of the Tour de France or similar.)

Eventually we regrouped to collect our little treasures after their gruelling assessment. I have no idea how he fared, other than that he 'drew a beautiful picture and wrote his name' (Good boy - although with ten children competing for each place, my hopes are still not high...). We'll find out in a few weeks.

But I rather think that Mummy, on the other hand, scored nulle points....

16 comments:

Audrey said...

Schools! I know of people around here who can pretty much talk about NOTHING but schools (private schools, natch!) and can give you all sorts of unwanted information/opinions about them. Everyone has to go their own way in the end and my advice to you after having spent years being subjected to these discussions is to ignore what everyone else says and try and change the subject. Not always easy, I know.

Nota Bene said...

Ha LoL...that sounds similar to my disaster in sending the boy to secondary education. It simply hadn't occured to me that you had to be so competitve over these things.

I sincerely hope you looked pityingly at them all in the near-certain knowledge that whether he gets in or not, you won't need to take up the place.

And as for the skiing - the boys'll be overwhelmed with excitement, and then sleep for most of the journey. It's an adeventure and all the better for it! We get strange looks when we reveal that we go by train, avoiding hideous airports, having a lovely night's sleep in a bunk-bed and a bonus two days on the slopes.

Hold your head high!

Mud in the City said...

Sounds worse than applying for jobs!

The Dotterel said...

By the time they've checked in, gone through security, been delayed (ice, fog) and found ahire car or taxi you'll probably have beaten all the air-miles experts anyway. And seen something of the scenery!

Expat mum said...

Oh just get yourself over here, put on your most Queen-like English accent and they'll be falling all over you!

Anonymous said...

I bet I know which school it was and I bet its a boys name.

My son had an "interview" there.

He got in but we turned it down. Funnily enough it was the parents that clinched it for us - exactly the same experience as you. All waving their property portfolios at you and dropping phrases like "where to you summer?".

Tooting didn't seem to be the right answer.

Mom/Mum said...

I totally and UTTERLY echo what Expat Mum says. Over here, they'll be hanging on to your EVERY word and you'll score ten out of ten! x

Iota said...

Assessing 3 year olds is just silly. All you are assessing is how much they have been taught by their parents/carers in advance of the process. That just demonstrates the commitment of the parents, not the ability of the child - although that might be exactly what the school is looking for.

More than a Mother said...

God, what a hideous woman! I loathe competitive parents - I always end up going to the other extreme and laughing about how clumsy/idiotic my son is ;)

nappy valley girl said...

Audrey - as you say, everyone has an opinion. I'll do my best to ignore them!

NB - agreed, airports are hideous. And flying would not allow us to take the copious amounts of stuff no doubt required by the Littleboys. They are good boys in the car, so hopefully will just sleep. It's us that'll feel knackered....

Mud - well I certainly felt more nervous that if I had been going for a job interview!

Dottorel - for sure. (Although most of the scenery will be French autoroute in the middle of the night....)

Expat Mum - do you really think so? The trouble is, I always find myself unconsciously adopting an American accent when I talk to Americans...

Anonymous - Oh ho, it does sound similar - although I couldn't possibly comment on the school. Summering in Tooting - couldn't you just adopt a weird accent and make it sound like somwhere in the South of France?

Mom/Mum - oh wouldn't that be nice....

Iota - completely agree. The only thing I think they can really measure is their grip of language, and that isn't even an indicator of how bright they are at this stage. I've also heard since the interview that schools like this often get it wrong, and end up turfing people out after a couple of years - in which case how awful for the child!

that girl? said...

Perhaps the parents that you encountered will one day take their heads out of their arses long enough to figure out what's best for their kids rather than concentrating on keeping up with the Jones's!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nappy Valley girl. I ran into your blog and wanted to say how much I like the style. Your blogging is really lively and evocative. Keep it up

jen said...

At least with academic selection you have a fair chance of getting in. We are currently awaiting the decision by the council for our CofE state school application. Where although the head teacher is desperate for my son to attend (she has said as much), her hands are tied. And there are 50 applicants for 9 places. It comes down to siblings, church attendance, and proximity. I am already writing my appeal letter...

Yes we could go private, but then I'd be working all the hours there are and never see my kids, so decided that state was the only option. OUt here in the boondocks, prep schools are seemingly a lot more expensive, and non-selective so you might as well be in a state school, at least for the first 3 years (our plan).

Good luck with your plans. Sounds like going to the US is a good getout plan as far as schools are concerned. We have often thought of heading to Oz or back to NZ just to avoid the whole private/state debate!

nappy valley girl said...

More than a Mother - yes, I do that too, but some people take it too seriously....

That Girl - You're right, although I fear that may never happen....

Anonymous - thank you. It's so nice to get encouraging comments and it made my evening.

Jen - fair point. It seems schooling in this country is fraught with difficulties, whether you go private or stick with the state.

louise said...

i moved out of london to avoid these daily conversations that started when my littleone was 15 months old! I had no idea where she was going to go ...so we hotfooted it out into the country and she will go to the village school here with the thatched roof that she can walk to every day! ( although even here we are not immune to people whose kids are at private school asking where she will go!!!

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Boy, what a scary bunch of parents. Would you be able to avoid them if your son DID go there? Keep up 'doing your own thing' who wants to be a yummy mummy clone when you could be an interesting indiviudal. (which you are) Keep seeking adventure & 'the path not taken' It will make all the difference I think.