Last week was High School decision time, and when we went through this with Jack he was allocated a School you would not send your worse enemy too. A school in special measures with chronic behaviour problems.
That is the downside of living in the middle of nowhere. We don’t actually have a catchment school. Or indeed a School near us. Thus applying for Schools is a lottery which depends on birth rates of the current year.
I never forget that moment 5 years ago that we pressed refresh, back then it was 6pm not midnight. Jack just looked at me when he saw the decision and said but how will I protect myself there.
That sentence still haunts me, my little boy who was put on this earth for me to protect and care for, asking me how he would protect himself at the school he had been given. He would go from a loving village school to a huge under-subscribed school in special measures, that OFSTED sited had problems with behaviour.
Of course it was never an option, we would never send him to a school that made him feel his safety was at risk.
And then ensued the appeal. A stressful sequence of proving your child is of good character. Getting references to prove your child is an upstanding citizen, when in fact all children SHOULD have the right to a good education. It is a soul-destroying sequence of events. And to make it worse Facebook was full of mums celebrating. Fluffing their feathers and shouting that they have the school they wanted.
Have you any idea how this feels when you are considering selling your house and up rooting your family to avoid a School that you actually feel with be of detriment to you child.
This time around I knew what could be ahead, it didn’t make it easier.
In fact in anything it made it far far worse. Jack’s School was our first choice, then two other Schools we loved. Jacks School is convenient, and a great School but has shown a slight dip in result in the last 2 years. Saying that the teaching staff and ethos of the School is wonderful. But Jack is leaving this time so Joe did not count as a sibling arghhh.
The other two boast amazing results but will prove a bit of an epic journey. And quite frankly I didn’t think we had a chance. Any other School was just not an option. It was those or fight another appeal, pay for private school or move.
I didn’t notice the build up over the weeks, it was only when a friend asked how I was as she had noticed my stress levels, that I realised how utterly stressed out I was. I felt sick with dread of what was ahead.
We were lucky this time, we did not get Jacks School. And yes we feel a little sad as we have an emotional attachment to the school. We have an epic journey, but a school with a truly inspiring head teacher that moved me to tears during his introduction speech when we visited.
And as I watched FB Wednesday morning, I felt sad for all those mums watching the show. I knew how they felt. So I didn’t post. Don’t get me wrong I am not condemning anyone for sharing their joy. And if they knew how it felt to be at the other end, I am sure they would be far more sensitive. They are lovely people. But just haven’t experienced that fear for their childs education and welfare.
I just wanted to share what worked for us at appeal. It may not work for others, but if what we went through can help someone then I would be thrilled.
- Tell your child it will all be ok, us parents are resourceful beings. We didn’t want Jack worrying about this when he had SATS and diabetes to worry about. He believed us, trusted us, it was now up to us to deliver.
- Contact the head teacher of your chosen school immediately, just a nice email stating why your family is so disappointed at the decision. Focus on the positives of the school and how it would benefit your child. Not too long, just a quick email with the facts. Do not mention the school you have bene given.
- Phone the school admissions officer as soon as School opens the next day to find out the correct appeals procedure and get your child on the waiting list. I did this a 9am and Jack went first on the list, and because of my email the school were already aware of us.
- Start to collect references, from cubs, guides, football teams, class teacher, current head teacher. Everything counts.
- Get a doctor’s letter if applicable. We were advised not to put Jack’s diabetes as a factor on his application. I was told afterwards that this was the wrong information.
- Look at other school’s you would consider and appeal for those too. You can appeal for any number of schools. I never did this. But a friend of mine did and was successful.
- Never at any point highlight the negatives the school you are allocated unless they are facts.
- Print of the OFSTED report for your chosen school and allocated school and highlight facts and comparisons i.e. behaviour, school ethos but do it on both. This is useful when asking or answering any questions related to your decision or appeal.
- Remember all facts should relate to how your child will perform educationally.
- Keep calm and deal in fact, not emotion and save screaming until you are behind closed doors during school hours!
- Don’t give up! It is a scary, daunting process, and the stakes are high. But keep going.
It may not work for everyone, I am not sure if there are any hard and fast rules, but I hope it helps in some way. x