Thursday, 11 April 2013

School Transition

Next week I will get to hear the news on which school from my preferences PJ will be allocated. Will she be allocated to the school of my first choice? Will she take precedence over the admissions numbers as she is LAC and probably newly adopted in September 2013 when she is due to start Reception?
I don't know.
I wait with bated breath.
All is still... and at times, not very calm.
I am told that the system is that my local authority will give me my preferred choice but I have heard and read some horror stories about the process of school admissions and the appeal process.
I have made my choice and filled in all the forms by the deadline of January 2013 and social workers have also written letters of support to go with the application.
And now we wait, for next week to see what happens and how well the transition to school goes. Big school. We have been talking about going to big school since PJ came last Summer.
She points to schools and says - I could go there, Mummy - I have to say - I have chosen a really lovely place but we need to wait and see which school you will go to when we find out if they say yes - not easy for a little girl who has anxieties and controlling behaviours - she has in her head picked her own school a million times - but the system doesn't allow us to begin to start the transition process until after mid April 2013.
It hasn't been an easy road to make my choice in the months before the applications were due in - my very local schools are large - around 350 - and I feel PJ will be lost at sea in such large school systems.  Larger schools, you are not on my list.
Other smaller local schools to where we live didn't have before and after school care on site - they either, walk to and from school to the before and after school club, or they go by minibus - both of which are too vague and transient for a child who is vulnerable, needs routine and structure to breed security - and also a child who as yet has no sense of danger or road sense! I crossed all those schools off the list. Sorry.
Some, I visited, ran a very tightly oiled ship, where all children not only wore uniform but seemed to all be in unison - fine of you want your child to go with the flow and for a child who will just slot in to a well established system - but not so great, I suspect for the vulnerable child who also needs to be their own unique person as well as belong to a school organism - something that grows with vibrancy and vitality - rather than just conforming and being stifled and coming out of a one size fits all,  mould. Likewise, well oiled schools with a hint of uniformity, you are not on my list.
Some schools I had suggested to me, were nigh impossible to get passed the receptionist.
We have already done 5 viewings, she said. We are very popular and we will be oversubscribed, she said.
Well, I couldn't be bothered to remind them that all the admissions selection was done centrally or wish to explain that as my child was looked after or would be newly adopted, they would take priority as I didn't feel that I really wanted to deal with a receptionist every school day who was so rude, opinionated or dismissive. Sorry rude and oversubscribed school, despite getting OFSTED Outstanding, you are also off my list.
I did look at many schools and ask around and collected many brochures before PJ came to me and again once she was with me.
I put down 2 schools.
The admissions form recommends parents put down 3 schools.
School choice number 1 is a small school, recommended by my boss as she has worked with the head. Small, nurturing, caring, with inclusion high on the agenda. I liked the head and the receptionist and they were both very calm in manner and friendly, when I visited the school. It is close to where PJ goes to Nursery which I hope will help her make some connections and there may well be some other wee friends from the Nursery transferring there too. It has before and after school care on site and is on my way to work and not far from where we live.
I put down where I work as my school number 2 choice. 2nd because I am not convinced PJ will adjust well to me working with other children and it might be best for both of us to have some independence. It is a fabulous school and very caring and nurturing, so it has been in my thoughts but hand on heart, I think it would be hard for us both to be in the same place. I would rather drop her off knowing she is in a safe and happy and caring school, where she can develop and grow and flourish and make friends and I can go and do my job and work hard and then pick her up at the end of our day.
So, we wait.
I am planning for the transition.
I am planning on returning to work and am working on a phased return initially to ease my way back in to work and up some of PJ's Nursery sessions this next term. This will hopefully prepare her for a little more social time at Nursery in preparation for doing 5 full days in September. I hope that by PJ being in Nursery for a few more sessions each week, this will lessen the separation anxiety that kicks in. I am hoping that planning a few Nursery retainer sessions in some of the long Summer holiday weeks will help maintain some sense of routine and structure for PJ and thus lessen the huge transition.
This is all running alongside our continuing getting up and getting dressed routine and getting ready earlier to leave the house. We have come a long way from the little girl screaming over every item of clothing and taking several hours to do this - don't plan on doing anything in the mornings, I was advised by her social workers and give yourself plenty of time when you need to leave the house at a certain time her foster carers had said.
We have a long way to go. Can she dress herself, a family member asks? No, I say. We have focused ion putting clothes on - clothes on herself would be too much to ask. We are working on it. Piece by piece. Gradually, slowly.
We are working on following instructions and practising listening skills - we run to certain places in the park and we work on some schedules and patterns to our days - and Nursery are working on so many other things for PJ and helping filling In several social and emotional gaps in her "wall" that are glaringly obvious and staring at us in the face in her EYFS Learning Journey from last term's parent's evening.
We have a long way to go before I will be dropping her off early at before school club and her looooong days in school for 5 days, that will relentlessly continue and then re-start after the weekend - for approximately 12 years.
Learning to sit still, to join in, to feel settled and calm enough to not run around in and on and under and through things. For PJ to feel secure enough that she will let go of control enough to allow another person - the adult - the teacher - to invest in her life. Being secure and happy with her peers to share and take turns without resorting to controlling others. These are a few of my transition to school concerns.
I hope the transition is planned well and that the visits to school start very soon and that they are often and help PJ get to school - every day, on time and for her to enjoy school - and for others to enjoy being with her in school - and for her to learn - A lot is at stake - the pressure is on - this transition is huge - Dear Local Authority, I hope you help me to make this transition work. For all our sakes.
School will be a big part of our lives for a long time.
Transition well.
Leaps and jumps won't work.
Smooth is what we need.
Acceptance and a welcome, would be nice.
Which school will it be, or will I need to appeal?
I will let you know.
As soon as I know.
A week to wait.


  1. I hope you get the school that is your first choice, I really do.
    And perhaps, if you haven't already, get a copy of Education Now by Adoption UK for the teaching staff?

    Thanks for linking up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, and for sharing your concerns over PJ's transition to big school x

    1. me too, vicki, me too. I will find out about the Education Now for the school once I know more - thanks for the tip. There are so mant transitions we go through, it is almost ridiculous!

  2. Getting the school right is very important, you seem lucky to have had many to choose from. I try not to think to far ahead in school terms. At the beginning of this school year it seemed inconceivable that my oldest would be off to high school in two years, now with the last term to go before year six he is doing so well and I have a lot of hope for his future. I hope you get the one you want, I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    Thanks for linking up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out.

    1. thanks - thinking too far ahead is confusing and almost impossible as there are so many unknowns in between, aren't there - delighted yours is doing so well - a great springboard for him for year 6 and beyond. I will let you know how we get on.

  3. We are currently deciding where Jonathan should attend kindergarten next year. We only have 2 choices (based on him being deaf) and they are so vastly different it's hard to know what is right...feels like a lot weighing on one decision:( I can totally relate! Hope you get into your number 1 choice! Good luck!

    1. I hope that with your choices being so vastly different you can make the best choice for Jonathan based on his needs and potential to flourish in the best "establishment" for him. Go with your heart and your hunch - you know him best. Thanks for the good luck wishes - good luck to you and your choices too!

  4. It sounds to me as though you have put a great deal of thought into choosing this school especially for PJ. I am certain that those reading your application forms will understand the difficulties for her and therefore award the best school for her needs. It is a big step for any child but for PJ, it is significantly greater. I have everything crossed x

    1. thanks - I hope they read the forms and put the right supposrt in place too. It is all big steps, yes and am trying to do one at a time!

  5. I am really impressed with the level of care and concern that you have put into the choice of right school for your daughter - I really, really hope and have all my fingers crossed that she will get into your number one choice which sounds lovely! X.

    1. Thank you - it is a crazy system and a crazy amount of choices but when you get to the nitty gritty of what is key for her as she starts school, it was glaringly obvious which place might be best for her - so we will see what "they with the forms" say.


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