When my son started school 10 years ago, it seemed like a big and scary place. Not just for him, but for me. All those hundreds of pupils, the teachers we didn’t know, the parents we didn’t know… The year 6s seemed impossibly big compared to my tiny boy. Surely he would never be that big.
Perhaps down to the fact that I worked three days a week and wasn’t at school as much as most parents, I felt like we didn’t fit in there and weren’t really a part of it.
Fast forward three years to when my younger son started and, what a difference! Suddenly I had two kids there and the whole place seemed a lot less mysterious. We’d entered the juniors and were getting a much better feel for the kids, the teachers and the parents. At last, I felt like a proper school parent. I felt like we belonged there.
By the time my daughter started, we’d got it NAILED. A child in year 5, a child in year 2 and a child in reception, plus me a hard-working school governor. It felt like there were four of us at the school. No year group was more than a year above or below one of my kids’ year groups, so we knew everyone – the kids and the parents. I knew which teachers taught which class and knew them all by their first names. We really belonged there.
When my eldest left, we still fitted in. I had two kids there and was still a governor myself. With one child in the infants and one in the juniors, we had a pretty good handle on the whole school.
When we reached the dizzy heights of one in year 6 and one in year 4, and with me no longer a governor after five years of hard work, it felt like the lower school was slipping away from us. I no longer knew who taught in reception or year 1. Some of those teachers didn’t know my kids or me. But my son was head boy and my daughter was pretty well-known about the place. We still belonged.
And now we’re back to square one. Albeit with 10 years’ experience under our belts. My daughter is the only one.
Year 4s looks tiny to me. So do year 6s, in fact. I don’t know who teaches in reception and I don’t know so many teachers by their first names. We don’t know the little kids or their parents. For the first time since my younger son started school in 2008, I have no idea who the chairs of the PTA are. Our paths have never crossed. Their kids are so much younger. I miss the old year 6 parents, most of whom didn’t have a younger child. They left with their kids.
I loved it when we were all at the school, now it’s starting to feel a bit lonely again. I walk to school with just the one child and wait in the playground to pick her up on my own. My daughter will move on, just like her brothers did, and we will never have that lovely community feel in a school again.