The Redster: Four years and three months
Babeling: One year and a week

We have to put three schools down on the form.

The very best schools that people move house for and camp in the car park to get into (yes, I know I’m only talking about primary schools, but this is London) are way out of reach. We forgot to move house next door to one, or baptise our children into the Catholic church to get into the other.

That leaves: a church school that the Redster might squeak into but it’s looking tenuous – and we’d have to drive there; the nearest one, which is popular and OK, but got a very average Ofsted due to some dubious teaching; and a blank space for choice number three. I’d written off a couple as not having great Sats results, but a mum I spoke to persuaded me to go and check them out.

So yesterday I dragged the kids along to see a school which is avoided by the middle class suburb it’s situated in and got below average sats results, and I loved it.

I loved it for the following reasons:

– The headteacher is new. She is going to turn the school around. I believe her.
– Lots of green space outside.
– The library was appealing.
– The Victorian building had large airy classrooms with high ceilings.
– They all get swimming lessons, French, and violin as part of the curriculum. Violin!
– Part of the walk to school is alongside a canal. We saw a heron.
– A pure white cat with one green and one blue eye came some of the way with us.
– I think I’m ovulating and I love everything.

How else do you choose a school?

There’s the fact that a lot of kids come from backgrounds where they haven’t spoken much English until they come to school, because it’s not their first language, or because they have been dumped in front of a TV/playstation from the age of two. That’s the head teacher’s verdict, not mine. The head claims that children starting with a better grounding in English won’t suffer as a result.

Then, it’s very multi-racial. I experienced a frisson of white middle-class alarm at the thought; then I thought, why live in a multi-racial city and choose a mainly white school? Don’t I want the Redster to experience the real London in all its glory? Isn’t this our community? We already have a multi-racial household thanks to the presence of the lodger (and babyfather, who is Welsh).

So, we’ll see. One more school to look at, but I doubt it will get on my list unless we are accompanied there by a white albatross with one green and one purple eye. Then I will consider it seriously, unless, of course, I have PMT.

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