I'm nearly at the end of the seemingly endless round of school visits to potential primary schools for Isla for next year. In our borough we have to put down 6 school choices and so over the past few weeks I've been visiting the 6 nearest schools to us to get some sort of sense of order I might put them down on the form. The visits have all been very different. Each Headteacher seems to take a different stance on how best to show parents their school. Some have favoured the method of getting the kids to show us round, which I quite liked, others the Head or Deputy Head took us round personally. Some have done a formal presentation to parents and others have been more informal and chatted to parents on their way out (I liked the formal presentation personally).
This whole process gives the illusion that you somehow have a real choice in where your child will go to school. The likelihood of getting your first choice though when you live in a borough where the schools are heavily oversubscribed is low. I have liked aspects of all the schools I have seen over the past few weeks but there is one school that in my eyes really shone out for me and I would love for Isla to go there. The facilities were amazing, I had a good opinion of the headteacher and the children seemed happy. However it's third nearest to our house (as the crow flies), so locality is against us - which seems ridiculous as we're only 0.74 miles away from it but looking at last year the furthest they took children was 0.6 miles. Before distance is even considered priority is given to looked after children and children with medical conditions. Then you also have to factor in siblings - last year this school had 31 out of 60 places taken by little brothers and sisters.
One thing I noticed about all the schools that I have seen is that the children are mostly very proud of their school and they are amazingly confident and articulate. I loved it when a school let the children show us around - after all they know the school best don't they and will be more candid? It really helped me to imagine Isla in a years time in her school uniform and to visualise her in the future being part of a class.
I will put my preferred school as first choice but I feel sure that we will get the one which is 2 minutes walk from our house and it's not a major problem as I did like it too. It's just that when you find somewhere that you totally fall in love with and you start to imagine your little one going there, it's hard to convince yourself that other places will be just as good. Anyway, one more school to visit and then time for the form filling and the dreadful wait until April!