My experience: Starting school – three months before September start date

It’s just under three months until Miss NHM starts school and I’m feeling quite despondent about the whole thing.

I’m desperately trying not to get stressed about it but the more I see and the more I read, the more worried I’m becoming.

I do my best to be as positive as I can on NorthHantsMum but I also pride myself on being honest and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like I do about my child starting school…

Receiving our confirmation email

We received our email confirmation of which school Miss NHM would be starting on April 16th 2015 at 6.40am.

Despite thinking I wasn’t too worried about it, I had very little sleep the night before, lots of nightmares and was up at 6am waiting for the email to arrive.

(Just as a side point, whoever put that email together at Hampshire County Council should be sacked! It was in four different font types, different colours, and very hard to read. I literally had to read it three times just to confirm which school Miss NHM had got into, because the structure was so bad!!!)

We were then told that we had to return proof of identify within two weeks. It was a good thing we weren’t on holiday because you had to confirm your child’s identity within those two weeks or you would lose your child’s place at school.

(I was shocked to see on the original form that you have to return to confirm your child’s identity, that you have to detail if there are any restraining orders against any people in your children’s life!!! Naive? Moi?)

When I went into the school during the following week, and took Miss NHM’s passport with me, I asked some standard questions about when Miss NHM would actually start school. The receptionist couldn’t answer these questions. (I have already established which receptionist is the rude and obnoxious one ;-)).

They couldn’t actually tell me as the date wouldn’t be confirmed until three months before she started school. Yes, three months before starting school. It’s a good thing that I had anticipated this and kept enough leave from work because otherwise we would have been in trouble. They hadn’t actually confirmed, by the end of April, when Year R would start school…

Parents introductory meetings

There were two parents meetings, one in May and one in June, that we were told in November that we HAD to attend as they were mandatory.

Shortly after receiving the email confirming which school Miss NHM was going too, we received a letter in the post saying that the date for the meeting was now completely different. When we were on holiday. A holiday that I specifically booked so that we could attend the original two dates. I was not best pleased.

It the turns out that everything we were told at the November meeting has changed. Even the start and end of the school day has changed. We now also have home visits which we were told in November weren’t going to take place.

So, we missed out introductory first meeting with the school last week.

I found out, through telling someone about how unimpressed I was so far, that the headmistress has changed. Nobody told us.

Confirmation of start date

I finally got confirmation of when Miss NHM would be starting school this week. (I feel so sorry for those working parents who haven’t saved enough holiday so they can cover the childcare of those first three weeks of school when children do half days or whatever system their school has devised.)

We got back from holiday and I went in to pick up our “welcome pack”. It wasn’t a welcome pack at all. It was an envelope filled with 27 forms that need to be signed in blood. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic but I’ve since seen other schools “welcome packs” and the difference is dramatic.

A friend of mine very kindly let me read her “welcome pack” and the difference was staggering. Her daughters pack even had a letter from the teacher to the new starter, which was a lovely touch.

No such pleasantries in our “welcome pack”.

The first form I read, about pick ups and drop offs from school was like some kind of dictatorship letter.

For example: “Should a child not be collected by an adult by 4.30pm, the school will contact Children’s Services for support”.

Marvellous. So, if I get stuck in traffic, trying to get back from work to pick up Miss NHM from school, and there is nothing I can do about it, the school is going to call children’s services on us. Fantastic.

Oh and did I mention that you “MUST (their bold and capital) notify the school in writing and the note must be handed to the class teacher at the start of the school day” for any changes to pick up’s. Any changes at all.

There is also a very officious “school accessibility” form where you have to note any difficulties that your child may have had or will have during school.

I spoke to nursery about this and was told that they had ALREADY spoken to the school! Are they even allowed to do this?

My concerns

I’m not stupid, I get that there are rules in place for a reason, to protect our children, but these draconian letters just make me feel even more worried.

Now that I’ve compared what we received with a friends “welcome pack” I’m even more worried.

I’ve spent many years avoiding the nanny state that we currently appear to be living in and it’s been a bit of a shock at the rules and regulations that are going to be “enforced” on my family in September.

I’m also very worried that Miss NHM is going to be “labeled” and I will be devastated if that happens.

She is a bright, strong willed little girl and the state seems to be encouraging us to raise independent and ambitious girls. If this is the case, then why do I feel like she’s just going to be a number in a class of 30, where her real educational and development needs aren’t considered because the teachers have too many forms to fill in and not enough time to teach the children.

Settling in sessions

We have our first settling in session next Tuesday and I’m going to be keeping a very close eye out to see what happens.

(Interestingly, this is one of four, half our introductory sessions where sibblings are unable to attend. Four half an hour sessions. Really? So I’ve technically got to take four half days off work for half an hour? I’ve been warned that schools are less than sympathetic to working parents, but really, half an hour? By the time we get there, we will be coming back home again!)

I am really hoping that over the next few months my mind is put at ease but at the moment, I’m worried. Very worried…

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