Monday, March 05, 2007

unspeaking learn'd volumes

There's a lot of panicky stuff in the media around these parts about not being able to get your child into the best local school. There's much coverage of league tables and "value added" scores and SATs, sports awards, arts awards, healthy child awards, church school control, diversity . . . . .

it's a mine field.

P is 3.5 - most of my friends with children began thinking about where their child would go to school from about 18months/2 years. I thought I'd better get with the program.

There are 5 infant/junior schools (age 4 to 11) within about 20 minutes walk of our house. None of them look dreadful on paper - in fact, even though among the parents and childminders around here there seems to be a definite hierarchy of opinion relating to these places - in actual fact the standard of education around here is pretty far ahead of the national average.
P and I went on our second "big girl school for when I'm five" visit this morning. The school concerned has strong church connections, but has an inclusive policy for those like us who are not religious. This is a school which sits high in every table, test and league of school metrics.

P hated it. She clung to my leg and wouldn't speak to me. My daughter is naturally a very chatty, confident and inquisitive person. She had been excited all morning about visiting the school, especially since she'd enjoyed the previous visit we'd made to another local (also church-based, though not featuring so highly in government spreadsheets) school.

This school may well be brandishing it awards and achievements and status HOWEVER the headteacher did not address a single comment to my daughter, in fact barely looked at her, other than, as we were walking through the library, when P picked up a book and started looking through it - the woman took it off her and said "shall I put that away for you?" Needless to say, this was a rhetorical question.

P was really uncomfortable, and no amount of encouraging her to look at what the children were doing or becoming engaged in any way was going to convince her to give the place a second look. Not even the tree lined field or bike populated yard.

As we walked away, I asked her what she thought.

"I don't like that school. when I'm a big girl I want to go to Mrs Bowers school, even if they haven't got trampolines." (mrs bowers being the deputy head teacher of the first school we saw, with whom P was enchanted and wanted to sit down and start working on the spot)

"Do you know what it was you didn't like?"

"The children didn't smile at me, and I didn't like that lady."

"What was it about the lady you didn't like?"

"Her hair."


At 1:21 pm, March 05, 2007, Blogger Beccy said...

Many years ago I took a diploma in pre-school childcare. The one thing that stuck with me was to watch the interaction between the adults (carers) and the children, that was more important and should come first even if it interferes with adult to adult communication.

The first school you visited sounds a far more child friendly place. You are lucky to have a choice. Where I live there is one parish school unless you pay for schooling.

At 3:03 pm, March 06, 2007, Blogger HerImperialMajesty said...

Mrs Andrews was my head mistress when i went to junior school. she wore denim skirt suit and american tan tights that i could see her incredibly hairy legs through in assembly.
my teacher that i liked best was Iris Walker. my dad knew her and i liked that i knew her name and it is, i now recall, because of her divine son and his penchant for wearing jeans as a twenty something coming to fetch stuff for him mum, that spawned my endless love for the right kind of guy in jeans. i must now telephone my mother to know what became of these legends.
i also remember that Mrs Walker smoked. this seemed exceptionally risque to my tiny mind and made her tonnes more interesting than Mrs Lowe, who just had bad bowl hair.

You'll know when you've found it honey bun xx

At 11:41 pm, March 06, 2007, Blogger debbie said...

damn, but kids are perceptive.

more than anything, though, is how well you've captured that, while P didn't know just what it was that she was vibing negatively about the second head master's inherent lameness, she managed to zero in on something that helped her explain the bad vibe, anyway.

(was her hair like a cake?)

P is so delicious.

At 8:06 am, March 07, 2007, Blogger dodo said...

hair was black, thick, cut fairly short but seriously glued down.

she also had really strong 'old fashioned' perfume (I don't know how to describe perfumes, since I'm not a great perfume wearer(i wear Chance by channel that we bought when we were in the airport in Italy last year)but it was kind of oppressive)

At 4:58 am, March 29, 2007, Blogger Andrea said...

Aw, how sweet (the hair comment).
I can't believe that bitch took the book away. This is a SCHOOL?


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