That's it. I'm officially one of those mothers. You know the type. The ones who whinge and (red) whine about how their kid should be entitled to go to their local school. Or, for that matter, get a GP appointment. Yes, the really unreasonable ones. How dare they?
I have been a bit quiet since Thursday, I admit. The reason? My son has been offered a school outside of my town, requiring a two-mile walk with a toddler in tow (get that driving licence, mummy) and one which was not on the list of three preferences - all of which are significantly geographically closer. Indeed, the first choice, totally oversubscribed, is a mere 0.4 miles away.
Sadly, I am not alone and many families are facing worse. Families up and down the country have discovered that they live in a 'no man's land' where, actually, no, you can't send your four-year-old to school up the road. You have to drive them in rush hour for over half an hour (or, in car-less families, dump them in a taxi, alone, and ship them off) to school in a village they have never been to before, with mostly children who live miles away from them, and suck it up.
Well, given this is election season, and given all the talk from all the political parties about what they are actually going to do if they get into Government, could I suggest one, teeny, tiny, little thing?
Build. Some. New. Bleedin'. Schools.
If politicians are going to promise building new homes, and thereby expand a population in a town, for goodness sake build an extra primary school and require new GP surgeries to cope with any increasing population in a given area.
Fortunately, I am a 'stay-at-home-mother' who can home educate until a place becomes available. Lucky me, Mother Political; lucky son, Will Get to Go On Holidays in Term Time. But for those parents who have to send their children to school - their families are being let down.
It's so simple. I'm not talking creating bulge classes and rendering primary schools Educational Behemoths who lose their character and personal touch of the Headteacher actually knowing the name of every pupil. I'm not talking expanding class sizes, putting intolerable pressure on teachers, and reducing the personal attention each child needs.
If a population is expanding in an area, there should be an obligation on Government, local or central (who actually cares which) to provide new schools and fund the opening of new GP surgeries. This is the least the State can do - especially given that it refuses to outlaw schools discriminating against pupils on the basis of their parent's religion (whether genuine or contrived for the purpose of getting-little-Harry-into-a-local-school).
Just build new schools. I'm not talking new-fangled free schools of the Gove-era variety. Just create new schools, fund them, and allow children to skip, happily, in to be tested to the hilt (ok, maybe not the last bit). Lucky it's election season and we can start banging on about it to politicians who will have to stand on doorsteps hearing Tony Blair's famous line: Education, education, education.
A simple pledge: we will build more schools and provide more teachers. We will prioritise the availability of education within a local school for every child. Congratulations. You got my vote.
So how's this for a field of many parent's dreams: Build them, and they will come.
This was originally published on my blog, the Politics of Mothering.