Before I start on this rant I want to make it clear that I’m obviously grateful for the universal public education offered in this country and that when I was originally bemoaning not getting the school of our choice for our eldest seeing Malala joining Twitter put my complaints in perspective somewhat.
But that doesn’t mean that I have to like all of it.
- The illusion of choice
The majority of people were given a place for their child at their first choice of school. We were in the minority. This did not bode well for me accepting let alone embracing that it was already time to lose my first born to the school gates.
- The effect on siblings and the family unit
Full family time was already at a premium due to working hours but now it is almost restricted to the weekend. Holidays and days out are crammed into the same time and space everyone else needs to cram them into as we all roughly share the same term times. Siblings are separated for hours each day, younger siblings get dragged along on the school run for no benefit of their own, loose their playmate(s) for most of the week and the freedom the eldest child may have been lucky enough to have known for the first four or five years of their lives is truncated for the younger siblings. We thought Willow would miss Luke a lot now he is in his reception year but Luke too has also asked when Willow will be starting his school.
I like a team strip but I’m really not a fan of uniform for uniform’s sake. He has plenty of clothes that fit him already, why are we wasting money and the earth’s resources (the fashion industry is a huge polluter) buying him more in order to deny him the opportunity to be an individual and the opportunity to wear any bright colours or fun designs?
- The school run
All the schools in our area are over subscribed so we knew early on that I would have to start driving frequently and regularly which, considering up until August I barely drove at all as I’m quite scared of the concept, is a very big deal for me. It creates such a busy time on the roads and siblings get to waste double the amount of time in the car due to the return trip. Anyone recommend some interesting CDs to listen to? And my sense of urgency for getting to the school gate on time is rarely reflected in the time it takes the minis to get in and out of the car.
The school gets the best of my son’s time. We get the rush at the start of the day, the tired at the end and we’re always watching the clock in between to make sure we march to the sound of the school bell. They get to see him learn, his wow moments are now shared with his teacher’s and not me and I lose opportunities to learn along with him.
Peer pressure and other adult influences will start to make a bigger impression on my child’s outlook. We’ve already had gender limitations alluded to which I did my best to quash immediately but such labelling can be insidious. It doesn’t help that he is among the many children who subscribe to the “what happens at school stays at school” line of thinking offering up exceedingly little information as to how his day has unfolded or even just whether he’s eaten or not.
I was one of “those” children who actually asked for homework when I was in primary school even though we weren’t regularly set it then in the way children are now. As a parent however, I’m not sure I approve of having too much set (if any) for such young pupils. They already over tired from the school week, have such reduced family time at home or for truly free play, why rob them of more?
I know the answer to some of my genuine concerns rather than just grumpy grumbles would be to home educate which I have considered but, for now at least, he is apparently enjoying school whilst he’s there and his younger siblings can enjoy more of my less divided attention too.
All of this, of course, I do my best not to voice around him and I’m well aware that, after experiencing our first half term, I may well be writing a seven things I love about school instead…