School daze: Choosing a primary school for the big one

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I can hardly believe it’s time to start looking at schools.

Six months or so ago, I was still claiming to have two toddlers. Now I have one very school-ready child, and one who’s off to preschool in January. At this rate, by the end of next year I’ll probably have teenagers.

In September, most of her friends from preschool went merrily off on their way to Big School (well, little Big School). I have no doubt that the big one could happily have joined them; she will be one of the older ones in her year and (even if I do say this myself, although I might just be a little biased) she’s a very clever and confident young girl. Much like her mum, eh (shhhhhh).

This means that somehow, we have to start the process.

I admit, I didn’t know this until people started asking me whether I’d looked round the schools yet, which was more or less as soon as the term started. I’m not stupid (honestly, although at times like this I worry that I might be) but I had rather expected that perhaps I’d get a letter encouraging me to take a look, or containing details of which schools there were around here and who to contact to make appointments, but apparently not. You’re on your own and you’re just expected to know what to do, which of course you don’t because you’ve never done it before.

This isn’t a new phenomenon; apparently it was the same when I was starting school which is crazy really because the internet didn’t even exist back then and there were no Facebook groups with wise women to guide newbies through the rather daunting process which could make or break their child’s entire future.

No pressure then…

Where we are, unless you go private (ha ha ha ha *dies laughing*) we have a choice between two local schools; three if you’re a Catholic, a few more if you want to spend your life in the car trying to park on residential roads where all the homeowners are angry that they bought houses next to a school which children have the audacity to attend. So two really. One of these is where she goes to preschool which is about a two minute walk away (15 minutes when flanked by two small children) and another, bigger one, a little further down the road… somewhere.

Honestly, I would love her to go to the closer one because she knows it and it is really really easy to get to. That counts for a lot when you’re dragging two children out of the door. I’m not saying we’re never late, but it’s rare.

But obviously, it isn’t just about proximity. There’s Ofsted (but that’s apparently a load of rubbish) and league tables (but they never tell the full story) and 17,600,000 google results for ‘choosing a primary school’ (there goes any views on this post then…). The advice I’d been given over and again by other mums though, was to ‘go and visit, and see what feeling you get’.

And so, with that in mind, we looked round the nearer one.

And I realised quickly that I knew nothing about primary schools and I couldn’t think of a single intelligent (or otherwise) question to ask and instead nodded and smiled my way around like some kind of grinning village idiot. It was nice, as places with tiny chairs and colourful wall displays go. Everyone seemed nice, and I can confirm I didn’t see any children being flogged or caned and it was definitely an actual school so¬†two thumbs up from me.

I will of course, being the dutiful parent I am, look around a few more probably being equally as inept and clueless, hoping that my gut instinct kicks in at some point. I might even look around the same one again once I know what it is I’m supposed to be looking at.

I’m sure that whichever one we choose, I’ll get emotional (and not just because of the cost of the uniform) and she will love it, make friends easily and continue to boss all the boys around.

Have you got any great advice for looking at primary schools?

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