Thursday, July 28, 2005

A post I started on Tuesday, and only just finished

Over the last week large envelopes have been arriving packed with papers from R’s secondary school. I did open the first and took a glance through, but hey, he doesn’t start till September, so what’s the rush?

Then last night, I got a phone call from the class gossip (I’m referring to a mother, not a boy ;o)) and true to form, I managed to let know her what a neglectful mother I am.

I thought she was calling to see if she could prize any info regarding Mrs A, who has recently kicked her husband out in favour of Mr B. But no, she stopped gossiping right after telling me Mrs C is in love and having a baby, but not with her husband. I expressed surprise and allowed her to think I didn’t already know.

Then she started talking about the class lists and asked me what I thought. As I hadn’t actually seen the lists, I mumbled about having faith in system (which BTW, I don’t really). She snorted and began commenting on how a certain young man managed to get into the fast-track group with his behavioural problems.

I drift slightly upon hearing the words fast-track. I only found out about this class a few weeks ago at an induction evening. The fast-track group (the A class) is supposedly the smartest boys in the year group, and what makes this desirable (?) is that the boys will take four GCSE’s a year early, and then ten the following year. To be honest, these numbers boggle me. I took six O’levels and failed two. GCSEs are supposed to be the equivalent. I don’t know anyone who sat fourteen subjects! I didn’t know there were fourteen different subjects at school level!!

Anyway, none of this concerned me as your child can only get into the A class if he receives three fives on his Sats.

Of course my child might have achieved three fives if I hadn’t started reading about Sats and got annoyed, so stopped. I was annoyed because they are supposed to be a standard national test, so the government can see how kids across the UK are doing, compared to one another. I have no problem with the theory of this, but what irked me was the way the teachers geared up as though these were A-levels! For months in advance we had mountains of revision, letters were sent home warning that the boys must not be off school for any reason during the week the tests were due, we were told where to buy test papers because several a week in school weren’t enough, and then warned about how to deal with the anxiety our child may suffer if it all got too much for him. It didn't seem like a fair snapshot of accedemic abilities, it felt like fit up for league tables.

So I kinda ignored it all. I told R to do his best, but didn’t know the results would determine his next seven years schooling (this is what happens when you don’t go and chat with the gossips!) I didn’t take the tests seriously, and felt shit when I realised R may have missed an opportunity because I hadn’t helped him to prepare.

But that said, we got his results with the school report and he earned himself two fives. Not enough for the fast-track, but bloody good in spite of a crap mother.

So while my gossipy friend was chatting, I wandered around the kitchen looking for the right envelope. (Do you know, it’s surprising difficult to hold a phone and open an envelope silently? especially if it’s been sellotaped closed!)

I screamed. I really did. Right down the phone. Because there, at the bottom of the ‘A class’ list – was my son’s name!

Before I read it, I didn’t really care he wasn’t going to be fast-tracked, if anything I felt a little sorry for the boys who would be expected to shine. But now his name’s there, I do care. I’m amazed. And pleased.

I think.

Oh, alright. There is a part of me a little unsure about this. But I don’t know why.

All this was racing through my mind as I heard the phone laughing.

“Debi, you are funny! You know, I never believe you when you say you’re scatty, but you really are. Are you sure that boy is yours?”

Well… you’ve got to wonder!


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