It’s almost six months since my daughter sat the grammar school entrance exam she’d worked so hard for. It’s almost five months since we received the great news that she’d reached the pass mark for both girls’ grammar schools. But reaching the pass mark is no guarantee of a place.
For many years now, I’d pictured my daughter at a particular girls’ grammar school, although I actually knew very little about it. We all fell in love with it when we visited for an open day last spring.
The other girls’ grammar school had one big advantage for my daughter in terms of its curriculum and would be more likely to be supportive of a child taking time off for panto. Its big disadvantage is that it’s a bit further away and would even involve a short car journey to get to the bus stop.
Round here at least, when you hear that your child has passed for grammar school, they are also given a ranking. Generally speaking, the very top kids will choose the mixed grammar school, then there are the ‘top’ boys’ and girls’ grammar schools, followed by another boys’ and girls’ grammar school just below them. But some kids who gain the top marks opt for a single-sex education and some kids choose the third ranked grammar schools over the second ranked ones because of their location, their curriculum or because a sibling goes there. So you can never be sure which school your child will get until 1st March.
Looking at the figures, it looked likely that my daughter would get into our preferred grammar school. Her ranking placed her with a small, but hopefully big enough, buffer.
I’ll be honest, we’ve spent the last few months imagining her at that school. We’ve talked about what time she will have to get up to get the bus to that school. We just couldn’t imagine her at the other school. But we knew it could still happen.
I reminded my daughter and my husband (and myself!) that we were in a win-win situation. It didn’t matter really if she got the other school. Because she was definitely going to grammar school. The alternative wasn’t a school in a rough area, with terrible GCSE results, bullying and truancy. It was another grammar school.
We weren’t sure what time the offers would be made on 1st March, but it seemed likely it would be midnight. I can’t manage to stay awake until midnight, but my husband can. He woke me to show me the name of the school on the computer.
OUR PREFERRED GRAMMAR SCHOOL!
She’d done it! She was really going there.
I woke at 4.30 and wondered if it was a dream. Had I been mistaken?
I got up at 5.45 and checked. It was really true. She was really going there. I must admit I shed a little tear. I hadn’t thought it had been hanging over me for months, but of course it had. To see it there on the screen on black and white was such a relief.
I couldn’t wait to wake her up and tell her. I was getting more excited by the minute. And she was so happy! I was even more tearful when I saw her reaction.
It’s only when you know that your dream has come true that you realise how long it’s been at the back of your mind, niggling away at you. And now there’s no more niggling. No more uncertainty. We can look forward and know which school she will be going to, which uniform she will be wearing and which bus she will be catching.
My little girl is going to grammar school and I know she will thrive there. I couldn’t be happier!