On education, education, education and sacrifice.

Since the Star has now turned three, he is eligible for the 15 hours of nursery provision the UK provides, and you could be enjoying blissful toddler free afternoons.

You aren’t.

The Star did, in fact, get a place at the nursery of your choice. The one where they don’t just follow the children around and attempt to get the to count the fish as a nod towards numeracy teaching if he shows a fleeting interest in the aquarium, but actually collar a few kids at a time and spend a short time with a bit of structured learning each day.

You don’t have much time for ‘dogme’ in your profession, so you don’t see why you should support something similar when it comes to your children. ‘Dogme’ rose from Scott Thornbury’s attack on handout driven lessons. You think that a teacher who doesn’t know how to use resources properly is the last person to have the skills to go it alone. You don’t doubt that this kind of student led learning can be done, but only by the most skilled, and even then it is your professional opinion that making it up as you go along is not as successful as a teaching strategy as actually giving it some thought in advance. Although you are also undoubtedly against photocopying a badly designed worksheet as a substitute for actual preparation.

Not that you are opposed to a bit of impromptu teaching, of course.

So, you were satisfied with the school.

The problem was that even though you had booked the Star in for the afternoon session at the nursery and the Star’s Russian playgroup slash language lessons are in the morning, the fact that they are at the opposite ends of South London meant that the clashed horribly and on Tuesdays and Thursdays he wouldn’t make it to the school anything like on time. Plus, if you are honest, you didn’t really fancy plunging the Star into a monolingual English environment for the full five days a week.

You went down fighting. You spoke to his (bi-lingual in Portuguese and English) teacher. You officially requested that the Star be let off Tuesdays and Thursdays to further the bilingual and bi-cultural diversity of his individually tailored diffentationalised syllabus. The (bi-cultural but regretting not being bi-lingual in Norwegian and English) Headmaster himself phoned you up to chat about it.

Both were sympathetic.

But his absences would mess up the school’s official absence stats and that in turn would have an impact on their standings in the school league tables*, and so you had to choose.

Choose to send your child to the excellent local school you hope to get him into when the time comes for compulsory education and enjoy afternoons of sitting, feet up, in front of the TV watching property programmes** and feeding the Comet without the distraction of a toddler demanding attention to contend with. But tip the precarious balance you have gained between English and Russian firmly away from Russian.

Or continue to slog through London traffic for an hour twice a week and have to provide the Star with opportunities to get messy, explore the world and learn maths in the afternoons yourself. But manage to keep a reasonable amount of Russian input in your child’s life.

No contest really.

*You don’t blame the school, you blame The System.

** This is a joke. You don’t watch property programmes in the afternoon. No, in the afternoon it’s mostly antique shows.

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2 thoughts on “On education, education, education and sacrifice.

  1. Yikes. Tough choices. Could you maybe just bring the Star quite late on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that the school can count him present, late enough that he’s not plunged into an afternoon of English after his morning in Russian?

    A somewhat similar conundrum for us occurred this year: we wanted to enroll Griffin in the preschool at the English/Spanish elementary school in town, because then he would be guaranteed a spot in the school when time came for kindergarten (and it would mean less English in his day outside the home). But I didn’t want to miss French playgroup (which only happens once week). He ended up on the wait list for this school year, so we didn’t actually have to make a decision; we’ll try to get him into the preschool as a four-year-old next year. But we’ll still have to keep him in his English-speaking daycare when I’m working anyway. Maybe I should look for a francophone nanny (especially now that I’ll be paying for two kids at daycare)….

  2. Lateness is viewed in much the same way as absence by the league tables I think. I suppose I could have brazened it out, actually. ‘Oh dear, yes, he does always seem to come down with a cold on Tuesdays or Thursdays.’ But that would be unfair to the school – it’s not their fault we’re trapped in this weird statistics war in the UK. Although if I kept them nice and low down in the tables, I probably wouldn’t have to fight for a place when he actually has to go. Hmmmmmmmm.

    We thought about a nanny. They are surprisingly cheap, or at least, they are when you compare them to the costs of nurseries. But I’d have been working to pay the nanny purely so that she could replace me as a language input source and I decided that that was Going Too Far in the end.

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