Our children go to the kind of school that’s held up as a shining example of all that is right with state primary education. They build dens, dress up when writing to ‘get in character’, eat healthy homemade food, turn classrooms into campervans and ‘travel’ around Australia, have winning sports teams and get visits from circus performers and the Royal Shakespeare Company. All this and they also pass their exams.
As you might expect from such a beacon of educational wonderfullness, competition for places is fierce. Despite taking on 90 children a year, the catchment area stretches less than half a km and about half of places are taken by siblings.
So when we started talking about our trip, we decided that we’d only do it if we were able to keep the children’s school places. We’d be mad otherwise, right? Hmmm.
About two years ago, we wrote to the Head of the Infant School asking her what she thought about our idea to go travelling. She sent us a lovely letter in reply, enthusing about the great opportunity it would be for our children, but dealing a killer blow. The school isn’t allowed to keep our places open, the council automatically gives them away after six weeks.
For months, we tried to think of ways around it by trimming our plans to fit. But it just didn’t feel right. I was already in mourning for the trip that we weren’t going to have. After talking and talking and talking, we decided to go ahead anyway and keep our fingers crossed that we’ll get places on our return.
Yesterday we wrote to the headteachers informing them that we’d bought our tickets and would be leaving. Gulp. Are we mad?