School Lotto

Sorry for being fickle, but I’m back. I did finish telling our story and most of it’s good, but there are still bad bits. I need to write about them because I know it helps my readers and to be totally honest, it helps me.

This morning, I heard the Thomas the Tank Engine theme tune on the telly and it filled me with dread. That’s because, on a school morning, if we don’t leave the house by the time Thomas finishes, we’re late. It’s not the same tune as it was when we were young, it’s a load of posh kids singing “They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight, shunting bricks and hauling freight -” and they usually pipe up when I’m rushing around with a toothbrush in my mouth, trying to convince a stubborn Tom that his trousers are on back to front and mopping his nose with last night’s pyjamas.

It’s the Easter holidays and we haven’t had to think about school for a whole week. I almost forgot it existed. When I heard Thomas this morning though, I was reminded that school very much does exist. Tomorrow, we find out which, if any, primary school Tom has been allocated. It’s like I wrote exactly one year ago when I found out Tom hadn’t got into the nursery school I chose for him: I never expected this to be my realm.  I didn’t realise there were such enormous differences in the amount of funding and quality of education. Tom’s current school is too far away and far from brilliant. We’ve got the amazing, impenetrable one on the doorstep but sadly I still haven’t found out the secret of getting in there. It’s a real wrench every morning trekking miles in the opposite direction, seeing the lucky few walking to the top notch school around the corner. The best I can hope for is that Tom will get in the second best school I have applied for. Truthfully though, I want us to move. Most of our friends live across town in an area that’s just better for children with much more going on. If Tom doesn’t get in the second best school, then I’ll take it that my old friend Fate is telling us to pack up and move. The only trouble with that is that I can only get a one bedroomed flat for what I pay for a house here. Perhaps space would be a sacrifice worth making if I could guarantee Tom a place in a really good school, but the only way of finding out is moving there and then applying. Children’s Services told me that the worst case scenario would be Tom not receiving a school place until his fifth birthday and even then, it being miles from where we live: If Tom does get allocated the second best school, moving could be a big mistake. I keep dreaming about all of my teeth falling out, which is apparently about fear of losing control.

Doesn’t everyone want the best start in life for their child? I definitely don’t think Tom is more important than any other child, but it breaks my heart to know that he could be having an ‘outstanding’ education and instead he is getting one that’s ‘satisfactory’. It’s so difficult and it’s harder when you have to deal with decisions that affect someone’s future entirely alone. I can understand why people rent properties near good schools, or have their children baptised when they’re not even Christians, or even (almost) why some people pay for private education.

Last year, the decision about Tom’s school place came on an email from a  robot in the early hours of the morning. So here I am, wide awake, the Thomas the Tank Engine Theme Tune on repeat in my mind…

*After I clicked ‘post’, I spotted my Blackberry blinking out of the corner of my eye. He’s in the second best school, so it looks like we’ll be staying put for the time being. Seeing as how I have really missed this blog, we might as well stay here for a bit too.


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13 responses to “School Lotto

  1. Joe

    Yeaaahhhh You’re back! and well done on getting into 2nd best school!
    Missed ya

  2. Yay, you’re back.

    I can’t believe you’re on the doorstep of a school you can’t get him into. What a pain. 2nd best school is pretty good.

  3. Heeey, you’re back! Well done. Tom will be alright. He’s got you hasn’t he?
    (How’s the novel going?) Mxx

  4. Yeah! Hooray! That’s ace news. Welcome back. xx

  5. Glad to have you back, and good news for Tom getting into a not awful place.

    We all want the number one, but let’s face it, we can’t all have it, so to be somewhere in the middle and not at the bottom of the pile means that he’s not getting any huge advantage, but then not any huge disadvantage either.

  6. Luv

    glad u are back..u left right when i had found you..follow me on Twitter

  7. maryfclark

    Glad you are back. And glad your backup school is an option. So much hinges on this that it is difficult at times to sleep…but then, if T gets the perfect teacher, it will matter much less that he is in the second-choice school and not the first. And your clothes/shoe collection will surely be pleased to know that it is not in danger of being downsized so you can fit into a 1 BR flat.

  8. francesca

    I’m so glad to see you back, I missed you!

    Everyone wants the best, of course we do but these early years are about so much more than what ofsted see as outstanding. It’s the environment they’re in, if they enjoy it, if they like their teachers. And he’s got you. You read to him, you talk to him, you tell him all about the things that are important to you. Mummys are what’s important, and you do a fabulous job x

  9. wrysuitor

    yay! on both counts

  10. !!! WOow, you’re back!! Congrats Tom for 2nd place schooling as well, he’s pretty bright you know, he’ll be fine!

  11. Well done!

    And now’s as good a time as any to say you’ve been nominated for 3 MAD Awards – best writer, most inspirational blogger and Blogger of the Year! Well done!

    (To find out more about the awards, prizes and badges if you want to encourage your readers to nominate you, see

    Best Wishes


  12. Eve

    I’m so pleased to see you back, I’d hoped (in a non-stalkery way) that you’d share the rest of your story.

    I’m glad Tom has a place at a good school. He sounds like a really bright boy, the type that will do well wherever he goes. I agree that the education lottery is unfair. I live in an area without nursery school provision so have no choice but to continue to pay for private day nursery whilst I work, although of course the early years funding does contribute towards it. We’re moving later this year for job reasons and I’ve spent hours looking at maps and measuring distances from schools both ‘outstanding’ and ‘satisfactory’. I don’t know what the solution is, but I do know all children deserve the best.

    Good luck for the next phase of the blog x

  13. parklover

    Hadn’t realised you were back! Glad to hear that Tom got into a school you are comfortable with. That’s great news.

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