Yesterday was National Offer Day, meaning half a million families across the country found out if their child got into their secondary school of choice. A local mum describes her experience of the run-up to the news
My eldest keeps asking, “Where will I go to secondary school?” As we await National Offer Day, that is a very good question.
I know which state school we are hoping for; in fact, I can tell you the exact distance we live from the gates, as my husband borrowed a surveyor’s measuring device and rather self-consciously wheeled it to the school. Just as he neared the site, he unwittingly knocked the dial and had to wheel it all the way back again.
This all girls' school is so popular, that many families have rented or bought on its doorstep and the catchment area has shrunk as a result. The week before applications are due in, my husband panics and decides that moving is the only way to bag a place at this top notch school.
“You can't get much closer than that!" he says, pointing to a property ad for the former caretaker's home in the school grounds. But it is too late for such tactics and, besides, I don't want to follow in the footsteps of a neighbour who moved into temporary accommodation for the duration of the application process. When her daughter's place was safely secured, she returned home, to find former friends crossing the road to avoid her as if she had committed the worst imaginable sin.
Our second choice is the equally good mixed school but, after another embarrassing walk with the wheel, it seems we live too far away. That just leaves the new non-inclusive church school which is also our nearest – I can see the science lab from my bedroom window. But, as we only go to church at Christmas and have forgotten to get our children christened, I don't think our daughter has a chance. But, in desperation, I find myself at the Open Morning with a like-minded friend.
"I feel like an outsider," my friend Natasha mouths, as we file into the hall for the Head Teacher’s talk.
"Me too," I whisper back.
As the Head winds up his speech and leads us in a final prayer, I find myself automatically making the sign of the Cross along with all the other prospective parents.
"What are you doing?" hisses Natasha.
Well, I did endure seven years at an all girls' convent school – surely that must count for something!