When Liz submitted this post, I couldn’t believe how timely it was – I could have written it myself, albeit with more ranting and CAPITAL LETTERS. I know from recent conversations with a lot of readers with young kids that it’s a highly contentious, relevant topic and I know that no one seems to have the answers. No one knows what the ‘right’ thing to do is to change this ridiculous system and so, as ever, we simply have to do what is right for ourselves.
I have recently started going to church on Sunday mornings. I was christened as small child, got married in my local church but I have never really gone to church other than the usual weddings, funerals, christening and Christmas carols.
So what changed? The answer is simple, it consists on one word and It’s not something that I am entirely comfortable about – schools
The commuter town I live in has been subject to the most amazing baby boom over the past five or so years. One of the local hospitals closed the doors of its maternity wards to women from here as they were so overwhelmed
As it stands there are not currently enough primary school places for the year that my daughter will be in. The education authorities will obviously have to sort this out, but at the moment it’s not clear how or where
There is a primary school at the end of our road, about a 3 minute walk, and it is rated outstanding. We would love T to go there, convenient and high quality, why wouldn’t we? The only problem is that it’s a Church of England school. The number of children in the town means it can be picky about who gets a place, it has no catchment area, admissions are based purely on church attendance in the two years before joining.
Our catchment school is roughly a 25 minute walk and is currently in special measures due to the poor quality of teaching there.
The 4 church schools within the town are so good, and sought after, that it has brought down the quality of the standard state schools. Such that people would rather not send their children to them.
And this is the bind…
Before I had T I was the person who would mock others who were snobby and preoccupied with what school they would send their children to. I went to a pretty third rate primary school and I did ok, so why would my daughter do any different?
I couldn’t understand the people going to church for the sake of school admissions. Didn’t they see that if they all just stopped this pretence then the church wouldn’t have a stronghold over the schools anymore? Everyone could then breathe again, happy that their child would get a good education. I wasn’t going to be part of this, perpetuating the problem.
Then one day, it was my daughter’s education I was talking about and it started to matter to me. I wish I was brave enough to say sod this system. It’s bullshit that you have to go to church to get a chance at decent schooling. However, I’m not sure that I want to take the risk. I want to be able to say that I gave T the best chance, and if that is going to church then so be it.
I still wouldn’t rule out sending T to our catchment school if it’s standards have improved by the time it comes to filling in the forms. But I don’t want it to be the only option open to us if things haven’t changed. So for now, I attending church.
In actual fact I’m actually enjoying going; that hour of peaceful reflection early on a Sunday morning. It also seems like there is a lovely sense of community there (I guess partly because it’s full of other families like us), which can only be a good thing to get involved with.
But seriously, there has got to be a better, more equitable way of having access to quality education hasn’t there?