It transpired I can no longer ignore the fact that he is growing up at an alarming rate. We received leaflets from school informing us of the open days coming up and that we not only need to visit them but also make a decision about which school he will attend by the 30th October. My head is currently a swirling hotpot of a million questions and worries about making the wrong decision and I hope you're not expecting a moment of clarity at the end of this blog post because you'll be disappointed!
I had fairly romantic ideas about the decision making process. I would look at the Department of Education website and Ofsted reports and it world then of course present me with an easy decision to make. My son would naturally be bowled over by the facilities etc and it would be job done.
So I looked up the 3 schools which are the reasonable options given logistics etc. The first date was probably from my point of view the middle one in the desirable stakes. VERY poor GSCE results though they're ditching their headteacher. Poor history of dealing with bullying. Great sports facilities, close enough to walk or cycle. Good SEN results. His best mate is definitely going there.
He walked in and loved it immediately. Doh.
We still have two schools to visit. Top choice (for me I might add) has excellent GSCE results and by all accounts good facilities etc. Smart uniform and really excellent reports of student attitude etc. It is 2 towns away so he'd need to get a school bus to get there. That would be a major pain with after school clubs.
Bottom choice (again for me) is a school in the next town. No idea if there is a school bus or public bus. It is placed at the top of a very deprived area with lots of social issues. Last year results were terrible but they also have a new teacher who took her last school to 'Outstanding'. It's am academy and has had plenty of money chucked at it to develop its facilities. Some parents I know who had similar concerns about it to me, visited the other night and fell in love with it, as did their kids.
My son is, to his credit God love him, saying he wants to see all of them before making his decision and he is being so grown up about it. Apparently not agonising and waking up in the night thinking about it (what just me?) so it's just me having vaguely childish tantrums about results and options and opportunities. At the end of course the final decision is with him... slightly tactical of course - if I tell him where he's going and he hates it then it's my fault. Let him go where he judges best and if he loves it then he's happy, I'm happy, the universe is happy... and if he hates it then Mum can save him. I hope.
And it IS frustrating that not all schools offer the same... why can't it just be that it's just the 'feel' of the school is the only factor because all kids will have the same opportunities to reach their potential wherever they go? The education lottery is now open and at the moment it very much feels like my son's future is going to be influenced by the roll of the dice. I can do all I can at home but I'm not a teacher and certainly can't get him through his GCSEs if his school appears unable.
So here we have it, my angst filled blog post with no moment of clarity or pithy conclusion. You'll have to wait until we've visited the next two... or for his results in 6 years to discover whether he wins the lottery or not.