The whole process of finding a school for your child is not easy. At all. In fact, it can be quite a gut-wrenching ordeal!
But not for the reasons you might think. I mean, yes, it is quite stressful going through the whole schooling process. It starts early. I recall sitting in my mother’s group, my 7yr old only 8 weeks old at the time, and one of the mums asking, “So, which school has everyone put their child’s name down at?” What? We hadn’t even given schools a single thought at that stage. And in fact, didn’t start the process of listing our boys’ names down anywhere until years later.
And especially when you’re not native to the city you’re living in; it’s hard to know which school to choose. Which school is best for him? And then after a while, once you start the process, you start thinking: will he even be able to get in to the school of our choice? Already, we’re at a disadvantage with many of the schools here. Many give preference to sons of “Old Boys” (fathers who attended school there) or siblings (brothers of boys already there). We’re from Perth. Our schooling was in Perth. And the 7yr old is our first son. And places are limited. At one school last year, only 1 new family (from what I’ve been told) got a place for Year 3 this year. All the other places were given to siblings or sons of Old Boys. This year, that same school has approximately 90 applicants for Year 4 next year. Only 20 will be offered a spot. That’s not great odds. It’s not bad, but it's certainly not great either.
And I have some good stories that would make your hair curl about just how far some parents will go to secure a spot for their kids at the school of their choice. We know one parent who offered a big “donation” to a school to secure a spot for his child (it was not accepted), and parents we suspect baptised their child a certain religion (not their own) so they could get their child in to a school of the same religion. (Why else would they do that?) One woman I worked with once wouldn’t even attend other children’s baptisms, because she so wholly does not believe in God (her choice), and therefore, doesn't agree with the process of baptising a child. She planned to send her son to church on weekends so that she could ask the priest for a reference when applying to a well-known prestigious Anglican boys’ school. (I was appalled to say the least.) There are parents who have their primary school-aged kids tutored on a regular basis; often for years, to help increase their chances of passing entrance examinations. That's definitely not for us. My concern is: what happens when the child gets in, and he/she can’t keep up?
But even with all that in mind, it’s not whether the 7yr old gets in to the school of our choice or not that’s bothering me. It’s not like he’ll be without a school. He won’t. There are plenty of great schools around, and you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, and I don’t know anyone that does. It’s more about how he feels about the possibility of not getting in to the school of his choice. His decision about which school he likes is based on a) how many of his friends currently go there or plan to go there; and b) because he's been there a couple of times and feels comfortable there. It's what he knows.
Nope. Choosing a school is not fun. It’s not easy. If fact, the whole process sucks. But for me, it’s more about my kids. Yes, I want them to have the opportunity to receive an education at a good school. I want that school to reflect our own sense of morals and values we teach at home. But most of all, I just want my kids to be happy. To be given a great start to life, but to have fun in the process. They must have fun. It'll all work out in the end.