Last week my Eldest son started his formal education at the school we chose for him last year after visiting it. Since January he had been itching to start, frequently asking “how many days until I start school?”, occasionally getting himself in a bit of a grump when we replied with a number that was a little too big for him to imagine.
We had no doubt that he was ready to start school. When he is feeling secure he comes across as quite a mature little boy, he loves reading and is not frightened to use words that he has heard us use – he usually gets them in the right context too, even if he doesn’t necessarily know what they actually mean.
In July we went to an evening where we were given the school’s “Welcome Pack” which contained lots of information about the school, such as it’s uniform policy, and there was a discussion about what they hoped the children would be able to do before they began school. Looking at that list we were confident he could do everything plus a lot more, we hadn’t fully realised how advanced he was in certain areas because we’d been going at the pace he dictated, offering up more and more information as he wanted it. Knowing this really made us confident he was ready, academically at least.
A revelation at that evening in July that shocked us was that the Headteacher who we had met, along with the deputy head were both leaving to be replaced by completely new external candidates. I have to admit this worried me. The school had a lovely atmosphere when we visited, the Head really showed she knew the school and the children well, and that was in part why we picked the school. A change at the top, in my opinion, endangers that completely.
But, in the first week my Eldest son seemed to thrive. On his first day, he saw his teacher, went in through the door, and never looked back. Not even a word of goodbye to us. That has made the transition easier for us as there is no guilty feeling of leaving him somewhere he doesn’t want to be.
We had a little bit of concern when he came home the first day and told us about a boy who had taken a ball off him at playtime, but other than that he seems happy and is making friends.
Before the holidays we had requested a meeting with his teacher. This emailed request seemed to have missed them entirely before the holidays to the point where we weren’t even sure they had received it, but a quick word with the teacher revealed that she did know about it and had wanted to speak to us. A meeting was arranged.
At that meeting with his teacher and TA we gave a brief history of our son, told them about a few of his potential triggers, and what he does when he does get triggered. We gave them some documents provided by Inner World Work along with a document called the “School Passport” (which we were also directed to by Inner World Work) that we had customised to fit our son. To say that his teacher was pleased with receiving this could be considered an understatement, she seemed utterly delighted. They listened attentively, asked some questions, and seemed to take on board what we had told them. Actually, I know they took on board what we told them because this week she had a quiet word with my husband at pickup time about a book they had read which dealt with an owl losing her mummy and trying to find her. She warned us that he might have some questions about it.
So, his teacher has a big tick from us! The new head? I’m not sure. Shortly after receiving the Welcome Pack complete with uniform policy, they changed the policy without telling the new starters. Somehow we were meant to just magically know that the children weren’t allowed black trainers any more. She has presented as a stickler for smart uniform, which I personally find a pointless waste of effort, but I will support the school’s policy. What I won’t support is them changing it without properly informing people.
The two encounters we’ve had with the new head haven’t exactly left us with positive feelings towards her, the first one she left us wondering if she knew anything about the school at all (which she may not as she had only just started – sort of fair enough), but the second time we saw her she was standing at the top of some steps bellowing out at a line of 5 year-olds getting them to stand in an orderly queue getting them to tuck their polo shirts in. I rolled my eyes while passing that situation. Uniform has never really been a priority to me, I can’t ever remember not wearing it, but I do know it made me very uncomfortable and therefore less able to work effectively – so I do question whether it really should be a priority. As I said though, we will support the school’s policy as it will be better for everyone if we work together and uniform is not something I want to spend energy getting annoyed about.
But, anyway, I shall reserve judgement on the new head for now. I checked the policies of her previous school and actually they seemed very good for our needs, better even than the ones of our school, especially the behaviour policy. So, fingers crossed that will follow through too.
The first week went well, he’s about to start on full days so hopefully his positivity about going to school will continue as he has another 14 years of it! This transition really hasn’t fazed him at all. Every day and at every stage of his development my son continues to amaze me.