Well, what else could I write about today? National Offer Day. It’s got capital letters, it’s that important.
If your children are under 10, you probably won’t know what I’m talking about. If they’re over 12, you will have memories of a sick feeling of nervous anticipation. And if your kids are in Year 6 right now, you will know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
D-Day. The big day. The day we find out which secondary school my son will be going to. This day will basically be the day that maps out his future into adulthood. Put it like that, and it’s a really big day.
I’ve been thinking about this day for six months. No, I’m lying, I’ve been thinking about it for about three years. Ever since Year 3 when I took the possibly controversial, probably sensible, decision not to tutor and cram and pressure my poor son into doing an exam to get into grammar school.
My son has been counting down the days for a month now. ‘It’s 28 days.’ ‘It’s 16 days.’ ‘It’s four days.’ Even his little sister has joined in this past week.
Getting into the right secondary school and getting good GCSEs and A Levels isn’t the be-all and end-all. But it certainly helps. It certainly keeps your options for the future open if you do well at school. And you’re stacking the odds in favour of doing well if you’re at a good school, with good teachers, surrounded by good kids.
Even though I said I wouldn’t, I’ve fallen into the trap recently of saying ‘When you go to… (the school we want him to go to)’. Then I correct myself. Because we don’t know. We can’t assume.
Then I remind myself that I am very happy with the second choice school, that in some ways the second choice school might be better for my son than the first choice school. Then I wonder which school his non-grammar school best friend will go to. And if they’ll be together. Then I start to drive myself a bit mad.
I’d seen the council stats – 89% getting their first preference, 98% getting one of their preferences. That’s something to feel very positive about. I reckoned that, based on where we live, we could push our ‘first choice’ odds up to 95%.
If we didn’t get our first choice, I kept telling my son (and myself), it wouldn’t actually mean he wouldn’t go there. It just means we would have to go through various processes – appeals, waiting lists, finger crossing etc and hopefully he would get there in the end. But we didn’t want to go through that. I just wanted to see that email, with the right school on, then we could carry on with our lives. We know where he is going. We can draw a line under it for a few months.
I wondered if an email would come through at midnight. I often don’t go to sleep until just before midnight, perhaps I should stay up? Or maybe I needed to log on to the website at midnight? But what if it’s bad news? What if it’s good news? Would I sleep? Would it really make any difference for me to wait until the actual morning?
My son came home from school yesterday and said a girl in his class had told him it wouldn’t be midnight, it would be 9am. Her sister said so. How old is her sister? 13? 14? TWENTY SEVEN. Actually closer to my age than my son’s. Things have probably changed quite a bit in that time. When she went through the ‘secondary transfer’ process, the internet had barely been invented. It was only proper geeks that used the internet back then.
So, to cut a short story, long… I know the suspense is killing you, but I’m giving you a flavour of what we’ve been through… I went to bed at normal time, I got up at normal time and I WAITED. Waited until my son got up. It felt like my news, but it was his and it was right that he should find out with me.
Surrounded by my son, daughter and husband, and with only one minor forgetting of my password, I logged onto the site… AND… HE GOT IT!
He got the the school we want. The school that ticks all the boxes. The school I went to as a child. And his best friend got it too!
We are one very happy family today.