Monday, April 04, 2011

School places

I'm a school governor. Until recently, that school was rated as 'satisfactory' and has now been uprated to good. I'm not a particularly good school governor, but I've been doing it for a while and have given up a significant amount of my free time to a local school. I haven't made a major contribution, to be sure, but I have been along for the ride and I hope I've made some small contribution.

Lunch is almost ready
Looks like lots of places.

I put Buddy's name down on the list to go to that school. School governors don't get preferential places, but the school had never been oversubscribed before, so I felt pretty assured of a place. I wasn't thrilled about him going there. He's a smart kid, but he's not a good kid. From having observed classes there, I could see that it maybe didn't serve smart, not-very-good and high-energy boys well. He would have been an ethnic minority in the school - and whatever you may think about that, it can certainly make you more obvious, more vulnerable. Despite the school's improvement, I know they still face a lot of challenges. A school population of high churn. Kids entering every year who don't speak English at all, never mind as a first language. But it wasn't really a bad deal overall. I know the headteacher and deputy head and a lot of the staff. I know they're actually doing a pretty good job. I'm a school governor, so although the boy wouldn't get any special know, they'd look out for him, let me know if there was a problem.

School governors don't get preferential treatment when it comes to school places. And my boy didn't get a place at the school where I'm a governor.

Instead he was offered a place at the worst school within reasonable walking distance. A school which receives low ratings on outcome and on kids perceptions of their own safety. It's next to a housing estate that I know has some significant problems, because my husband sits on the local Safer Neighbourhood Panel. It's a school which, until last year, was in 'special measures'. It's a school that parents sometimes flee from to attend the one where I'm a governor. Sometimes mid-year.

I can't help feel a little cheesed off that I didn't get some good karma for my work, however just about ok it was.

And I can't help but feel a bit desperate. The school must be within walking distance or easy to reach by public transport. There's a nice looking private school that's not too inconvenient for us. But, of course, it's expensive. But I will pay. It doesn't help that I've just taken voluntary redundancy. Fortunately, we can pay at least for a little while - even in my reduced circumstances. And fortunately, my political principles mean that I don't worry about sending my child to a private school. I would prefer to send him to a state school, even if it's perhaps not the best option. But I won't send him if it's the worst option. I just hope the local private school still has places.


Jon J said...

Fabulous photographs of Richmond Park in today's (4/4) Telegraph.

genderist said...

Fingers crossed that there's still openings.