School places: Overjoyed or overwhelmed?

Take me back to last weekend in Italy when all I had to think about was what wine I was going to order with my antipasto.....

Last night my phone was alight with whatsapp messages from numerous gaggles of my fellow september-intake mums awaiting news of the school place announcement.

Until the messages flooded in, it hadn’t occurred to me that it wasn’t just me being incessantly punched in the stomach yesterday every time I was reminded that we were now less than 24 hours away from finding out the result of one of the most significant decisions to affect Xav’s little life yet.

Even for those unaffected by this date that has loomed over us, today the news of the national announcement date for the allocation of school places for September seems to have dominated social media (alongside the other major announcement today…no comment on that here, though ;).

We fought hard to get Xav a place at a great school just outside of our catchment area. We did everything we could, involving our health visitor and Paediatrician and enlisting their support to help us show the powers that be we felt it would offer an environment in which he could thrive.

My personal choice was to largely ignore the Ofsted reports and focus on finding out whether my boy would be happy, safe and treated as an individual – things that it seems (and this is purely my opinion) aren’t given the limelight they merit within any report I’ve read. I get why this is and I understand the system, but I’ve found myself wishing many times throughout this process that we lived in Finland.  I feel very strongly that our children should be under significantly less pressure than our curriculum burdens them with, and that there exists a direct correlation between the state of the mental health and overall wellbeing of our children and young people and our education system. A discussion for another time, perhaps.

After we’d applied in January I tried to let the school place announcement drift to the back of my mind, knowing we’d done everything in our control. In spite of my better judgment I’ve found myself over these months regularly fighting against a primal voice within my soul that is un-silenceable and screams to me that I should be deeply uncomfortable with the pace at which this is all happening.

My rational brain has been thinking about the gift of time that will be mine when for 30 whole hours each week, Xav is at school and I can devote those hours to Mumbelievable and its mission.

And so, back and forth has been this game of emotional tennis.

I had played out this morning’s scene many times. If we got the place we wanted, and if we didn’t. I’d thought I’d prepared for every eventuality. HA!!! Motherhood strikes again.

What I envisaged would happen was that if that hotly-awaited email gave us the news we’d been hoping for, a weight would lift and I’d feel light with heady relief.

So I was caught completely off-guard when I read those words and a feeling of desperate sadness engulfed me.

I’m excited for Xav as he moves into this next phase of his life. Actually, I’m excited for me too – all of us, in fact. I’ve got no interest in prioritising my emotions over his development and would never allow my discomfort to cloud my judgment over what’s right for him.

What I understand with clarity now I am one of those mums who feels deeply torn over this day is that it’s ok to be confused. It’s not just me who is bemused by how sad I feel and what a weird day it has been as I have looked at my child and wondered how the hell we have screamed through his life and arrived at this point ALREADY.

Whatever I’m feeling, it’s ok. Because we know that we will always and without exception do what is right for our boy. If it doesn’t work out, fine. We’ll change it. Together.

Have you received news of your child’s school place today? Did you get what you wanted? How do you feel about it?



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  1. 27th April 2017 at 10:33 am — Reply

    School places work differently in Ireland. I totally understand your anxiety and frustration though. Hope all goes well with it for you all. #coolmumclub

    • 27th April 2017 at 10:45 am — Reply

      That’s so kind. Thank you so much for reading lovely! X #coolmumclub

  2. 27th April 2017 at 1:54 pm — Reply

    Oh hon it’s a stressful time. We got news of our school place last week and we got ours and now I’m worried about he next phase what an emotional roller coaster! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub my lovely xoxo

  3. 28th April 2017 at 10:09 am — Reply

    Oh it’s so so hard when the plight of your child’s future is in someone else’s hands. It’s the hardest thing for a parent to handle. I remember all those emotions too. We still have them now as they are older with exam results, team selection, castings – it’s the handling their emotion of the results that I find hard as they get older. Oh it’s not easy being a mum sometimes. Children are more resilient though, mostly. And as you say, things are not set in stone. I hope everything goes well my lovely xx #CoolMumClub

  4. 29th April 2017 at 9:47 pm — Reply

    We’ve just received our school place too but we’re so lucky that we live on the doorstep of a good and generally undersubscribed school. We never really had to worry about it, but I have friends that feel so let down by the system as they too haven’t got the places they so desperately wanted. I have one friend who is now faced with having to put each of her two children in different schools and try to mange two school runs simultaneously? It really is so frustrating and I can imagine how you must be feeling. Really hope all goes well and it works out for you. xx #coolmumclub

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