With shoes not yet scuffed and no lost PE kit yet many children are now settling back into the routine of term time. Usually this time of year is full of as yet unbroken promises and lots of enthusiasm. Young people refreshed from the summer with the memories of holidays still etched in their minds as they head back to the classroom. New beginnings, new teachers and new topics.
Yet if you are the parent of a year six child this term is one of the busiest. Far from enjoying the back to school routine it is a merry-go-round of grammar school tests, LEA school application forms and the endless viewing of potential secondary schools. This is even before you consider the SAT’s word.
This weekend will see my 10 year old and several hundred more year six pupils take assessment papers to see if they make the grade to a grammar school. Of course this is our choice as parents to put him in the spotlight but still I question the decision.
Chloe didn’t take the grammar test five years ago, instead we opted to send her to a very good mixed Catholic School which was the right decision for her. We still had a terrifying wait to see if she had ‘got into’ the school because we are not very close to it and neither are we Catholic. But we had done our research and got letters of support from our CofE church so we knew we had a good chance.
Dylan though has been tutored and prepped for a morning of assessment. We have had weekly sessions for the past year and now I am feeling the pressure. He has worked hard but so have many others. There are some 270 boys taking the exam at the same school as him. Plus there are two other grammar schools that take boys who will have similar numbers sitting the same paper. We have told him time and time again that there is no pressure because we love the school his sister is at and we are more than happy for him to attend there. This is his choice, his doing. Yet who am I kidding? The pressure is there as we have paid for tutoring and invested time, we are not concerned about how much it has cost as whether he gets in or not the extra tutoring has improved his numeracy and literacy understanding and ability no end. But the pressure has already been applied and if he doesn’t score enough on that day, he will be upset and I know that we will have caused that.
I tell myself and him that we are just giving him options. That whatever school he goes to will give him endless opportunities, we are lucky as both possible outcomes are excellent schools so then I ask ask myself why are we doing this. Is this about me and Lee and our vanity to know we have a child at grammar school? Is this for Dylan’s benefit or mine? Having Chloe and Dylan in the same school would certainly make life easier so why are we looking at the more difficult decision. Dylan has driven this as he wants to do the test and he wants to go to the boys school but I have colluded with him, promised him a reward if he passes and cajoled him into doing the required practice papers. I only hope I haven’t caused him to feel any pressure.