Dealing with the primary school application results

Lucky Things is all about looking after ourselves. If you’re a parent it’s also important to look after our parenthood wellbeing; how we deal with life situations, changes and decisions that impact our us and children.
Across the UK, many parents and carers will be finding out which primary school will be selected for their child. It’s something parents and carers have spent ages thinking over. It’s a minefield when every school is so different. It has turned out to be an emotional and anxious process for many. What order should we put schools in? What statistics might help us work out what’s going to happen? What will help us have a better chance of getting the school we want? Should we go for distance or the feel of the school?  Online school applications were submitted in January. The wait has felt long at times but later today we receive the news online. Everyone’s reactions will be different. As it’s something we have no influence over, here are some tips on dealing with the primary school application results (and especially if you’d hoped for another result).

Get your support network ready…Who is your go-to person after finding out the news (especially if it’s not your top choice)? This might be friends, family and parents who are waiting for results too. It might also be friends who went through the application process last year and so remember how it felt to work with the unknown. Whether the decision is what you wanted and especially if it’s not your top choice then think about who you can speak to who will offer some supportive words. Also, if you’re happy with the selected school think about who you need to update and who wants to hear your news. Don’t rush to announce it when you know others are finding out their results.
Take some time to accept the decision before telling your child…Whether it’s a great decision or a surprise, take a few moments for it to sink in before reacting. Accept how you’re feeling but also think about how you’re going to move forward if you’re not happy. Also, look at the results away from your child. If they know it’s the day you’re finding out about their new school, they may clock onto any negative or anxious reactions. So if the result isn’t as hoped, think about if it’s necessary for your child to see how you feel at that point. This also gives you some time to plan how you’d like to talk about the decision with your child.
Give yourself some space…If you need some space, take it. This means online and offline. Stay off the WhatsApp groups or text messages if you’d prefer not to be bombarded with others’ news. Don’t feel the need to reply to text messages announcing schools. Others may be curious about the result for your child. If you see it as an important day for you, your child and your family, focus on who’s important to you. There will be plenty of time to acknowledge others’ messages or concerns. Some parents will naturally be more proud, relieved or possibly competitive. Some will be happy to mention the news, others may enjoy shouting their school application news from the rooftops and others may wish to keep it to themselves for now.
Remember it’s not something we can really influence…Even those parents who have purposely bought a home close to a preferred  school cannot control the outcome. It’s a cliche but it’s true – whatever will be will be.  Some things in life we cannot influence or change. So it’s about managing how we respond or feel about these events or decisions. Don’t kick yourself about your application form or if you visited enough schools. If you have major concerns about the outcome, research the appeals process  or deadlines. Go and get some practical advice.
Does your child need to know much about the application process? When I asked Big Munch what school she would like to go to, she replied “princess school”. I suggested that if we can’t take her to princess school, would unicorn school be an option? No. Then I realised she doesn’t need to know that somebody else is making a choice for us. She doesn’t need to know we put schools down in an order and if the top choice was selected or not. She just needs to know that she’s going to school. So trying to avoid sharing my anxieties with her, I asked her what colour uniform she would like to wear? Pink of course. Back to princess school being at the top of her list then…
“Your child will fly wherever they are”…This was a lovely comment on my Instagram feed yesterday. It’s true. Across the UK, we are fortunate to live around decent schools. Ofsted ratings aren’t the only way to assess schools and they can easily change each year. As a teacher friend reminded me, getting the best education is about a combination of the child’s interests, the parents and the teachers.
School life is a new phase…Of course we have preferences for Big Munch’s primary school, but I’ve been reassuring myself that wherever she goes, it’s also just about her starting school. We may feel nervous about our 3 or 4 year olds starting school but remember kids can see things differently. If you have to accept a school result further down your list, when you’re ready, start focusing on how you’re going to support your child with starting school in the first place. How are you going to enjoy the last few months before school life commences? How are you going to get your child ready emotionally for school? How are you going to get yourself emotionally ready for school life?
When you’re ready, move into a more practical space…So if you’re not happy with the outcome, think about in what ways you can make it work for you as a family? Everyone would love to walk to school or for it to be located on the way to work or the train station. If distance is going to be an issue, work out your tactics and think about how you’ll manage this. To help with any logistical worries, can you trial a school run on your own so you can see what it’s really like? If you’re unsure about the school result for your child, can you visit the school again and discuss any concerns with the head teacher? Would it be helpful for you to speak to other parents whose children go there? Work out what will help you feel differently about the outcome over the coming months.
Whatever the outcome is for our daughter’s school I know there will either be tears of relief or tears of disappointment.  I know Mr.H will keep me grounded if the result is a huge surprise. At the end of the day, I know it’s more important for us to encourage Big Munch to enjoy school life and explore her new era. Now, which local school has a pink uniform again?
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