Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Photo 36

It was Thomas' induction day at High School today. They're supposed to make their own way there either on the bus or by walking but as we're not on a bus route and it's just short of 2 miles away, Mark dropped him off and he made his own way in. 

He's not even walked to the shops so there's no way I'd be happy letting him walk on his own just yet, not knowing whether he'd arrived safely or not. Amy started walking with a friend in Year 8 so it will come. Plus it takes about 30 minutes at a good pace - Thomas would take a lot longer.

Anyway, he had a great day, he likes his form teacher, he's with some friends from school and he's met up with a couple of friends from his old school again.  

Tonight I'm going to the parents meeting. Here I will be told how wonderful the school is and get to meet his form tutor. If it's a repeat of Amy's induction evening I will also be told that the school is in the top 12 in the country. When I first heard this I thought 'that can't possibly be true', so I looked it up. What they'd omitted to say was 'in the most deprived boroughs'. It's really not what you say but what you don't say isn't it lol. It doesn't bother me. I tend to think all schools are as bad as each other. Amy was pretty happy there and we didn't have any issues from a teaching/staffing point of view. She came out with good grades and the staff seemed dedicated, supportive and on the ball. 

Just while I'm talking about school again, I received an e-mail from the Deputy Head about the £35 trip money. 

She answered all my questions and said she understood how frustrating it was that 'disadvantaged children' (her words not mine), would be getting lunches and trips for free. I replied that yes, it was frustrating on a number of counts - that certain children will always be financially favoured throughout their school life yet aren't necessarily 'disadvantaged' - that a lot of working families are struggling but don't meet financial criteria for help and they're expected to find the funds - and that most frustrating was school had in effect spent £35 of my money without asking me and now wanted reimbursing for a trip that seems unnecessary.

I also mentioned that as it was educational and taking place in school hours no child, regardless of whether they receive free school meals or not, had to pay and queried why that information hadn't been forthcoming yet the information about free school meals was typed in bold. 

She offered to ring me and discuss the matter or meet with me. I politely declined both offers because I'd made my point and I'm sure she knew where I was coming from.

I will obviously pay for Thomas as I can afford to. But once again, it's not what's said but what isn't said....I guess now she knows that I know that. 


  1. Oh, don't tell Thomas but look at that little face! I just want to squish those cheeks.
    I'm so pleased the school visit went well and Thomas is happy about going. I don't blame you for dropping him off though. It's a long way to walk on his own.
    Parents introduction evenings are entertaining at least. Usually the same speeches year after year. As long as the children are happy there is what matters. If they learn something too then that's a bonus.
    It's a shame you didn't receive any definitive answers to your questions but as you say, you made your point and unfortunately it goes on in schools all across the country, although they usually have to state 'voluntary contribution' on the trip letter.

    1. Haha, I won't say a word Jules but I might just give him a squish on your behalf!

      He really enjoyed his day which is a relief and the evening meeting went well. The school seemed a lot more relaxed than when Amy first went. There is a different headteacher who didn't do the hard sell and his form teacher is young and lovely. It was her first day back today from mat leave.

      Yes, I've seen voluntary contribution before which is always followed by "if not enough children pay the trip won't be able to go ahead" which also really annoys me. It's emotional blackmail.

      Anyway, it was a good day for Thomas and that's the main thing. We will be doing our 'first days' together in September with Lily starting school :) xx

  2. He looks mischievous 😁. I completely agree with you all schools suffer the frustrations. I've always maintained (having worked in a secondary school in a previous life before the immigration service) that parents values and participation in education is just as important.

    1. He is Tania and he has a cracking sense of humour, he has us in stitches at times.

      The parents meeting was very good. Lots of useful information and as well as the usual focus on attendance there was a great deal of focus on communication between parents and teachers and the various formats that can be used. The welfare of the children seems to play a very big part in the school environment these days and I know it's not just words because they were very good with Amy during her last year there with a few things.

      There is a new headteacher and she seems very nice. The old one used to 'hard sell the school' but did turn it around. Anyway, she didn't do the "top 12 schools" routine but the school is the top one in Rochdale which is true. I don't mind what it is actually as long as they're honest about it! xx

  3. Violet has the next two days are her high school. She's excited, but I know some of the kids are quite the opposite! I've decided to walk her most of the way, then leave her to cross the road and walk along and in by herself, then do the same on the way home. It'll get her used to the idea of doing it herself, which she's not quite ready for but not totally horrified by either.

    I'm glad you got some sort of response from the school about the upcoming trip. Still seems ridiculously steep.

    I agree, schools are schools. They all have their good and bad points. A lot of people were snooty about the High school Violet is going to but as I went there too, I'm ignoring it. I loved high school. I felt like I was in Grange Hill! ha ha!

    Love the paint work you've been doing! xx

    1. I hope Violet enjoys her High School visits. Thomas was really looking forward to his and came home very happy. Even though he got a lift he had to walk through the gates and into the playground on his own. I can't believe how much he's come on the past year. I think what you plan to do with the walking halfway is perfect.

      I paid the £10 deposit tonight for the trip. I bet they rifle through those slips seeing if Mrs .... has paid or not after getting on her soapbox haha. I had my say though and she agreed with me, but it is what it is. She doesn't make the criteria rules but it's the staff that organise the trips.

      The school used to have quite a bad name, then they brought in a new headteacher who was a little rotweiller but fair play to her she completely turned it around. She was one of these 'business type headteachers' though, the kids never saw her and she really did the hard sell but that's what she was paid to do I suppose.

      It's ranked the top school in Rochdale and has been for a few years so she must have done something right. The new head seems a lot more human but time will tell. Actually, I'll probably never set foot in school again apart from parents evening. That's the biggest shock of them moving to High School, parents seem to be banned from crossing the threshold!

      The chest of drawers turned out better than I thought it would. The house stinks of paint at the moment and it's getting on my chest. Luckily we've been able to have the doors open but I'll be glad when it's done.

      Let me know how Violet gets on :) xx

  4. Oh golly....time for big school. I've got a lump in my throat just thinking about it.
    Ruby will have to move from her tiny infants school in a village to a middle school in town before she goes to big school and I am panicking about that even now.
    I'm glad Thomas enjoyed his day...bless him.

    Good to hear that you got a reaction at least from the Deputy Head.

    1. Time just whizzes by doesn't it Sheila. Is it an automatic move to middle school with all her friends and will she be integrating with other schools? I suppose the positive is it will get her used to a bigger school in preparation for High School.

      We did something similar when I was in High School. The first 2 years were at one school, then the last 3 years at another. It was really strange looking back because they were miles apart but maybe it was quite common then.

      Yes, I'll give school it's due, they did reply and I was happy with how she responded. xx

  5. Glad to hear that the school responded to your email, Suzanne. Hope Thomas will continue to like his new school. He looks quite handsome in that picture!

    1. Yes, they responded as well as could be expected given they're not allowed to really say anything these days!

      Thomas really enjoyed his day and we met his form tutor last night. She seems lovely and just the sort of teacher I would have chosen for him. He only sees her for 20 minutes first thing in the morning but she'll be his form teacher for the full 5 years he's there.

      Her job is to get them ready for the day by making sure they have all their equipment ready, they have their school diary with them, their uniform is being worn correctly etc. She's also first point of contact for any problems they have or anything we need to discuss with her. I've always like the way they do this. I think seeing a familiar face every morning and especially one who makes sure they're all set for the day is a really good idea. xx