Monday, 10 September 2012

What choice?

You may well know that S goes to a private school.  We’re not snobby and we’re certainly not rolling in it, but her education is very important to us.

Now, why did we make this decision?  Well, if you have a read of a previous post, you’ll understand.  The schools in our area are simply, well, not good.  We refuse to send our children to a ‘failing’ school.

However, on 1st September, like many parents, I went on to the Council’s website and decided to choose a few schools that I wouldn’t mind S going to locally.  Of course I’d be delighted if she got into a good State school but what are the chances?

Firstly, the website says very clearly it is a ‘preference’ not a ‘choice’.  So, I would ‘prefer’ her to go to a non shit good State school clearly. Wouldn’t any parent?  Herein lies the problem.  Every ‘good’ school in our area is oversubscribed. To give you an indication, the two top schools take in 60 and 90 pupils per new year and are oversubscribed by 295 and 378 respectively.  So, 60 places and 295 wanting them.  I think that tells you something.

Our local school (about 150m away) isn’t oversubscribed at all.  Well, it has an impressive reputation – it is almost bottom of the primary schools list for the whole of Surrey.  Wow, how awful must the teaching/teachers be there to achieve this?  Please don’t tell me it’s all due to ‘thick children’ because that clearly cannot be the case.   I admit seeing all the pit bulls and chain smoking parents outside in the mornings fills me with horror but I am sure some of the kids must be nice and bright.  Yes, I have a very, very bad impression of the school.  So what! So does everyone I know with more than a single brain cell around here so, again, that must tell you something.

The State school I would like S to go to is the one I went to when I was a child. Yes, it is still there and no it’s not a museum piece!  It is, as the crow flies, 7 schools from our house.  It is also a very popular one and oversubscribed (by...well, a lot).  I would like to shoot that crow.

So, the fate of whether our daughter goes to a good State school or whether we have to work even harder for her to go to a private school is in the hands of some jumped up Council official no doubt with a piece of string and a drawing pin producing circles on a map.

I find it sad that not every State school has the same quality of teaching.  I find it sad that people actually move house to get into the right school.  What does this say about our school system?  How poor, and selective, has it become?  Every child has the right to have a quality education, no matter which side of the road they live on.

So, for us, it’s still the private or home education (which hubby isn’t keen on) route whilst we keep our fingers crossed.  Somehow I can see our ‘preferences’ being ignored completely and that officious piece of string offering us a school I wouldn’t send a dog to.

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