I never thought that finding a school can be such a long and complicated process. As I haven’t studied in the UK I had no idea how the system actually works here.
In January 2017 I had to go back to work, leaving my little one in the care of strangers. I found myself visiting places around us in December when everyone is getting ready for Christmas. We moved into a new area and not knowing exactly how everything works I had to decide very quick and somehow blindfolded.
I enrolled my daughter into Bright Horizons Nursery when she was almost nine months old and left her in someone else’s care for a full day for the first time in my life. It was so damn hard and painful and stressful and somehow it broke my heart. I wasn’t ready to do it but honestly speaking it was the best decision I made regarding my child.
Now, almost three years since then, I am trying to keep up to date with anything related. She is due to start reception in September 2020 and we already visited two schools around the area where we live. These are closest to our home and very good schools.
If you are not aware of the system in UK, you can opt for four schools where you would like your child to go to. Visits start around September time along with the new school year and end somewhere around December. Registrations start mid November and end mid January and some time around 15th of April you finally get to find out which school your child will go to.
There are so many parents literally desperate to enroll their little ones in one of the schools here and they would do anything to get in. What I found out though is that admissions are actually not related to the school.
We all have to send applications via our local council website and there is an automated system that will decide where your child will go. The school only receives the list with the names of the children due to start next school year.
I got no idea what criteria this system follows but reading further down on the website it clearly specifies that is not mandatory your little one will be admitted in one of the four choices you opted for. If you are in bad luck they might end up in a school not that close to your home and trust me, nobody wants that.
I am a working mum and I do not drive. Imagine my headache thinking Ruby will end up somewhere miles away from home and I have to balance work and school under these circumstances. My stress levels are so high and until April next year I will keep playing this scenario in my head
The two schools we have visited so far are similar in what concerns activities, parents involvement and structure. One is a well renowned institution with big history and lots of children, the other is a new school striving to succeed. They keep no more than twenty children in one class and they put a lot of accent on children’s background trying to mix everyone and learn from each other.
Honestly speaking I would be happy with any of these two. They both have breakfast club and afternoon club so leaving her in school until six pm is not an issue (helping me with work hours). They both encourage children to learn a second language, to be independent and choose for themselves and these are things I strongly agree with when it comes to my daughter’s education.
Speaking with other mums I realised that I am ahead of things by already visiting the schools but somehow I know I won’t rest until this is done. My insane desire to be in control won’t let me stay calm until the day I will send the applications, or better yet, until I will find out which school she will be admitted in.
Have you started visiting schools? How many will you apply for?
If you are not from the UK, what is the process of admissions in your country?