PARENTS

Choosing Your Child's First School

23/07/2013 16:40 | Updated 22 May 2015

Happy children at schoolGetty

So there I was, with a newborn baby, concerned with the very important business of the colour of his poo, when a new mum innocently asked me: "Have you put his name down for school yet?"

What? I stared at her in disbelief then distress and finally spluttered no, suddenly feeling a failure because it turned out she had already registered her bundle of joy at a "very good school".

This was the moment when I realised that choosing your child's first school is not simple or straightforward – it was something else to worry about.

Over the months and years that followed, the topic of education filled the air of playgroups, coffee shops and, even on mums' nights out, when we should have been talking about something else, with alarming regularity.

There were those who'd read every Ofsted report going and had begun plotting a plan to rent a house in the catchment area of the very best school just so they had the right address – without even actually living there. "I will get him/her into that school if it kills me," mums always said.

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Others who had started going to church on a Sunday because the Catholic school was 'outstanding' even though their only relationship with God was uttering His name every time they heard something smash, followed by their little one launching into 'waaaaaaaa'.

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Some were interested in the Steiner movement, which would mean their kid would learn drama and knitting while being taught to write in the sand rather than behind desks.

The rich ones were in the process of choosing between private schools – "we want to get him/her networking as soon as possible" - while the normal ones simply opted for the school just up the road.

Suri CruiseSplash

We argued, debated and finally agreed that at least none of us were considering Scientology school, where pupils like Suri Cruise learn how to rid themselves of things called 'engrams', which believers say are past memories that block learning and understanding.

OK, the five-year-old daughter of Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes may be in good showbiz company at The New Leadership Academy in Los Angeles – the school was founded by close friends of Cruise's, actor Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

But, call us unambitious, we just didn't fancy enrolling our kids into low-carb school lunches, robotics lessons and a syllabus built on the 'revelation' that we are all descended from aliens.

My husband and I claimed we didn't care where our son went to school – education is education and we'll be there to support him and help him learn.

But, guess what, when he was two, we ended up moving from a city to a town for cleaner streets, a quieter life and yes, groan, because the schools were better.

I know, I know, what a sell-out. But in our defence, we deliberately chose to live in the catchment area of the kind of school my husband and I went to, your common-or-garden primary, and not into a street which fed into the best in the area – we just didn't want to get sucked into the competitive parenting arena.

But that's the thing about having kids. Whatever beliefs you held in the days before you were acquainted with baby poo generally end up taking a running jump.

Parents want the best for their children. We just decided the best scenario for our son was to be happy. Academic achievement can come later.

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And if we ever doubt our decision, we can always thank our lucky stars our son isn't Suri.

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Are you going through the never-ending school worries and talk now?

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