Secondary school places – it’s a lottery not a choice
Children going to secondary school in September received their offers yesterday – and my daughter was one of them. She was one of the lucky ones who got her first ‘choice’, but what of those who are disappointed?
I should imagine that mobile phone companies will see a peak in activity as parents and children phone and text with news of secondary school places.
As soon as I found out I rushed to find my daughter. For us it was good news, but I know that there are many people who will be coping with disappointment today.
Where’s the help and advice?
I chose to get the news via email. This arrived, just after five on Thursday night, when – I should imagine – offices were closed to any anxious parent needing to talk to someone. Mind you there was no helpful number on the email anyway; no link to a website with advice, nor anything on the homepage of the local authority’s site.
And I’m sure there were a lot of people who were left with the ‘what do we do now?’ feeling after finding out that they didn’t get their preferred choice of school.
Media reports are quoting figures of one in five children not getting their top choice, I even saw one newspaper quoting as many as half of children being disappointed in the secondary school ‘lottery’. Other reports spoke of lawyers waiting for new business in the form of desperate parents needing help to appeal a decision.
How much choice do parents really have?
It seems a long way from last year when many of us were overwhelmed with the potential ‘choice’. We were led to believe that we had the choice of state schools, community schools, academies, independent, grammar and private (well, maybe a choice for some). But at the end of the day, is there a real choice for every family?
Also, making a ‘choice’ really brought home the responsibility of having to make a decision for my daughter. And while we went through the process, against all instincts, I had to make sure that I did not pass on any anxiety to her. After all, 10 and 11-year-olds really shouldn’t have to worry about making potentially major life-changing decisions at this age.
For us, we have been offered a place by the local school and are very happy with the decision. However, I know of several people who feel that they weren’t so fortunate and my heart goes out to them and anyone else in the same situation.
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