Deciding which school to send your child to is a monumental decision at the best of times, but when you have to switch mid-year, the pressure to make the right choice is enormous.
That was the very choice I found myself faced with last week when months of discontent with the catchment area option came to a head with a less than favorable Ofsted report and my child coming home from school, bursting into tears of frustration after yet another day of confusing boundaries, pleading to leave his current place of education.
Pre-report, we had already decided the move had to be made but I was dreading Harry's reaction as I knew there were many elements of school he loved and he had lots of lovely friends he'd be loathe to leave behind.
A catalogue of errors affirmed our decision to be the right one for us. Some children are flourishing beautifully there, but we know our own child and also our own personal experiences, and for us, it just wasn't working.
So there followed a scramble for info, and in-depth scrutiny of various Ofsted reports, locations, denominations, personal recommendations and the like. After a whirlwind tour of the best schools we could find within driving distance without having to upsticks and move house, we had a clear idea of our top two choices. The only thing left to do was for our golden boy to have a look around and as I took him to the first contender, he was shy, nervous (understandably) and a little withdrawn if I am honest. By stark comparison, five minutes into the tour of option number two and my son absolutely lit up! He visibly relaxed, was animated and engaged and he was tugging at my sleeve within no time, asking to come to this school. What a relief I can tell you! Something magical happened there.
The hardest part is your child's wishes of course, because you have the hideous hurdle to overcome of them leaving their friends and the teachers they have made bonds with - usually P.E. where mine is concerned!
So, massive headache over, we will have to sort the next issue of where my younger son will go, as he is due to start his schooldays in September. Its in the hands of the authorities now. Such a big step for him, but now he may no longer be set on the path his brother walked of to our lovely local lower school. Logistically, it is just not physically possible for me to facilitate that, long term. It's sad, because I longed to see Dominic scoot to school with his new friends, in their cute little uniforms, squealing and whooping on their way to the day ahead. But circumstances change and now it will probably be a different scenario, dropping the younger one off close to his big brother so that I am able to see them both in safely. Luckily, there is a gorgeous little school in close proximity and although it will be all new and strange to him, I have no doubt he will settle quickly and flourish there enormously.
Having no available family around, pick ups and drop-offs are solely down to me now, with the odd respite for work commitments thanks to the hubby, so it's an enormous undertaking and quite a daunting one as it changes so many things for me. No more ringing another mum at school or my gorgeous friend and childminder to grab the kids if I'm stuck in traffic/delayed for any reason! However, the impact of that relaxed smile Harry had in his new school and the opportunities which lie ahead far outweigh any inconvenience to me, because at the end of the day, we are here to give our kids the best chance, whatever it takes within our capabilities.
Be brave, you fellow parents who may be in this very predicament, switching schools is one of the most daunting tasks I've ever undertaken but I know in my heart it is the right one and since the moment the decision was made, my son has blossomed in front of my very eyes.
Hold their hand, take the plunge, make the change and watch the magic happen!
Have you ever had to changed schools part way through the school year? How did your child take to the change?