Monday, 23 April 2012

Primary school saga continues.....

I knew that I had to speak with Croydon Council to see what had happened with our placement.  As I said in a previous blog, we had entered the schools as per the listings on the Croydon Council's interactive map.  Twice I have spoken with the council and have had a few conflicting responses - albeit from very helpful people -  I was informed that all the local schools have had half or more than half their places given to siblings! I cannot really argue with that and that is why we did not get anything on our list.  We will be appealing.  This is where it gets hard.

On appeal you need a really good reason why you should be allowed a place at a school.  I know that my daughter has had hearing problems, so I can use that but I am also wondering about my issues.  My IBS and depression/anxiety issues can mean that on a bad day, I would need to get her to school as soon as possible so I can get home again.  The school they gave us would leave me in traffic and so would increase my stress levels bringing everything to the forefront again.  Do I use that?  That is the decision I am faced with.  Do I tell complete strangers, people who are there to judge me, all about my insecurities?

Thinking starts here.......

Friday, 20 April 2012

Primary School Places

The education system in this country has its ups and downs.  From a parents point of view, you want the best for your child and therefore you want them to go to the best school locally.  I have a 12 year old and a 4 year old.  When it was time for my eldest to got to primary school it was very straight forward, she got into the school we wanted, we lived close and that was that.  Now for the second and youngest child.  Changes have happened, for example, the eldest has gone to secondary school and we have moved house.  Slightly different area of schools so we re-visited all of them.  You hear stories about people not getting schools on their list and you think they must have put down schools totally out of the area and not enough locally.  So we used the interactive map that Croydon Council have on their website to find the schools most local to us.  We could choose up to 6 but only put 5 down.  We thought that would be enough.  Especially as our top 2 were in the top 3 results from the Croydon map.  Sent off the form and waited.

April 18th came and the day we would find out the decision of the council.  We were not too nervous as we thought we had covered the bases, choosen 5 schools all close to us and we would be happy with any of them.  The email started with 'We regret to inform you......' and I thought I would cry.  We had been given a school that was not on the list,  one that was further away than any on our list.  I had to call the council to find out why and part of the conversation went like this:
Me:  'I was wondering if you could tell me why we did not get any of the 5 schools we had placed?'
Council Person: 'Let me see...... ah well, you see, all the local schools did not have any spaces.'
Me: 'So no school local to us had a place?  Out of 5 schools, nothing?'
CP: 'That seems to be the case. You can appeal the decision and your daughter is on all the waiting lists'
Me: 'I really do not understand how that can be, we followed your rules on your web site, placed the schools all locally and you are telling me there is nothing?'
CP: 'Yes that is right.  As I said you can appeal and she will stay on the waiting lists.'
Me: 'I will need to know the distances of the children living furthest out who did get accepted at each school.'
CP: 'I cannot give you that information at this time, but email in and they can do that for you.'

Helpful as ever!  Actually, to be fair, she was really nice but she cannot tell me what she does not know.

I am left still confused.  I am fully aware that the system is automated by computer.  This computer selects the children for the schools and the idea is you will get a place at the highest selected school on your list.  It is not definate you will receive an offer for a choosen school and the list is meant to be your 'preferred' choices.  But I followed the rules.  I used their software and still I did not get anything.  I have been left with a school much further out that does not meet my child's needs on more than one level and I have been left with a much longer journey to and from the school which eats into my work time. I have to decline the place.

I am not the only one, of 6 of my friends, only 2 got something on their list.  The rest of us got schools not on the list.  This does not make sense on many levels.  I was told by a teacher, that Croydon changed their selection process this year and I think something may be wrong with it!  They will have a lot of appeals to go through I think, especially after hearing another 2 parents at nursery complain they had not got anything on their list either.

I have requested paperwork and details from the council.  I can send the appeal paperwork to Croydon council between 2nd May and 16th May.  Wish me luck, this may take some time.

I love a good Wedding!!

Weddings bring out the best in people.  You have all the stresses and strains in the run up until the day breaks and it all disappears.  You are left to (hopefully) enjoy the day and what it brings as you start your new life as husband and wife.

My  sister was married at the weekend.  She and her partner have been together for a long while now but only now did it feel right for them to take the next step.  Good for them.  It is important that marriage is not rushed into and you know you are doing it for the right reasons.  The sun shone the whole day - it was a tad chilly at times, so I will call it a bright and breezy day!  The church was decorated beautifully with flowers and the blossom started to fly from the tree as the bride arrived.  It was like nature was sprinkling its own confetti.  The marriage was finished off with a reception at a local golf club complete with a trip on a golf buggy for the bridge and groom!

The speeches are always something that make people nervous but it is also a time for the fathers of brides to talk.  Let's face it, they do not always get themselves heard during wedding preparations do they?!  The speeches bring the room together.  All the guests finding different parts of the speeches relevant to them and smiling when they do.  A great time to get pictures is during the speeches especially of the bride.  As her father's speech starts, she is smiling, this can turn to embarrassment, shock, tears (joy or happiness) and then finally back to smiles.

I have been to a few weddings where people have had unusual cakes.  A few years ago, friends had an Inca Temple as their wedding cake, (made by my Mother in fact, as she is brilliant at cakes) with caricatures placed on top.  It was fantastic!  Something different and it had meaning to them.  The bride and groom had met while traveling, with the Temple being the spot where they interacted for the first time.  My sister had 5 tiers of differing types.  Fruit, sponge and red velvet were the choices and all tasted beautiful.  Yes my mum made them too and no I am not bias as other guests commented!

This wedding in particular encompassed all the good parts and no bad ones.  The day saw beautiful weather, smiling guests, flawless timetable of events and of course, a smiling happy couple.  What more could anyone ask for?

Marriage is a special day and one to be remembered forever.  Make it special but just remember, it is not about the cost you spend or the size of the venue/flowers/dress, it is about you showing family and friends just how much you mean to each other.  Anything else is just the icing on the cake.  I love a good wedding!!