Thank God it's Friday

6th April 2001 at 01:00
Monday A letter arrives with the worst news. My 11-year-old daughter hasn't been offered a place at the secondary school we want. We're not in its catchment area and it's oversubscribed. I'm devastated, but seeing her disappointment I try to be positive. She's on the waiting list, I'll appeal. She goes to school without saying goodbye.

Tuesday Her four closest friends are in. They either have siblings in the school or live closer. I use the internet to look at all the Ofsted reports for the state schools in my area of outer London. The nearest is in special measures and has recorded the worst GCSE results in the country. The few decent state schools in the borough are selective, far away, and have already had their exams.

Wednesday I get brochures from some private schools. I could put her in one for a term or two until a place comes up. I soon realise that they're out of my price league. Anyway, I want her to go to a good local comp which gets results at least as good as the national average. Wy isn't there one within a three-mile radius of my house? I don't live in a deprived area - only last week the flat across the road was in the estate agent's window at pound;175,000 as an "ideal first-time buy". Maybe I'll move to Scotland, where at least they haven't this ridiculous selective system.

Thursday Her teacher phones me to say my daughter has been a bit weepy today and she's concerned as it's so out of character. As our appeal won't be heard until June or July, I can't imagine that much will change over the next few weeks. SATs are coming up and I want her to do well, but it's going to be difficult not to let this affect her.

Friday I'm resolved to keep my nerve and hang on for the appeal. But I lie awake thinking of what will happen if I don't get it. When I voted for Labour in the last election I was convinced they would improve all schools for all children. And a decent secondary school would be just a walk away. Four years later, why isn't it?

Anna Dewar is a pseudonym


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