The Black Adoption Project – creating better futures for Black adopted children in London

Which School Help – Easy as A B Let’s See!

12th January 2021 Blog

Parenting comes with no guidebooks, often advice but who knows which bits work for who; in the end, the buck stops at your door and you make decisions on your own experiences and for your child’s personality and benefit. But with schools – where do you start?

For many, it starts with toddlers at nursery age.  There are a ton of online guides about which childcare you can use – child-minders, nannies, nursery, playgroups, babysitter.  But what is the right way to decide who you entrust your child’s welfare, development, happiness too, and in these formative years?

I ended up creating spreadsheets to compare – how local the place was and easy to get to, what time they open and close, costs, did they do food, did they have their own children or other wards to look after, and would my child be treated fairly, are they registered to work with various childcare benefit schemes. How did they discipline? Ofsted ratings, reviews, can you trust them? A new question always popping up to be added.

Another concern for me was – would my child become overly attached to them, whoever they were? In actual fact, I eventually decided that I would not choose to send my child to any one place for the duration of time they couldn’t be with me.

The COVID pandemic has simply added another dimension to the mix.  We’re thankful that childcare is still top of the agenda to stay open and accessible during such an important time in your child’s development.

Being an only child she loved the interaction with other kids, even while being away from home; with flexible working, it became a mix of nursery and child-minders that we chose to switch between.

One minder had seemed ideal, and so while looking online for someone initially freaked me out, it’s fair to say you simply have to go with your gut!  She felt right, had looked after special needs kids before too, and as a result had all kinds of additional ‘good to have’ certificates – from childcare to health and safety and even food prep.  She seemed perfect for what we needed, was flexible, had her own child too… and then she missed our meeting. Back to square one…

Eventually, a local nursery was sorted which she loved, local back-up childcare in place and then they hit 3 and you’re all geared up to start the process all over again – with schools for when they turn 4.

This time your spreadsheets and advice etc might help, but you’re at the mercy of the local authorities and COVID restrictions this time. Talking to others I felt helped, who’d already been through it, then the same charts and spreadsheets came out again! We’re fortunate that in theory previously looked after children have the right to attend a school of choice as a priority admission, which slightly helps the selection. I wanted my child to have opportunities, to shine in areas she excelled in, be that academia or creative areas, and shine while letting her personality continue to flourish.

We looked at schools locally, talked to neighbouring parents about their challenges and choices, filled out online forms, shared online documents. Extracurricular activity versus languages taught. Breakfast clubs and afterschool versus sporting facilities available. It BLOWS YOUR MIND, and ultimately will grow theirs!

We selected a choice, and then waited, waited, forgot, remembered, checked confirmation dates, compared notes with parent friends – have you heard, when do we know, what have you received..? Wait, wait wait, and then…

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